Basics of Obsessive-compulsive Disorder

What is obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a type of mental illness. If you have OCD, you may often do compulsive and repetitive behaviors because of some obsessive thoughts and urges.

Despite the fact that you may try to stop your obsessions, your actions can still be out of control.

It often comes down to certain themes. For example, you may have the fear of being infected by bacteria, and then you may wash your hands repeatedly after you have touched anything.


How many types of obsessive-compulsive disorder do we have?

Common types of obsessions include:

  • Fear of dirt of contamination
  • Concerns with safety
  • Need for order, exactness and symmetry
  • Unwanted thoughts about aggression
  • Unacceptable thoughts about sexual or religious subjects

Common types of compulsions include:

  • Checking
  • Excessive cleaning
  • Following a strict routine
  • Counting
  • Ordering and arranging

What are the symptoms of OCD?

Signs and symptoms of obsessions include:

  • Fear of getting dirty or getting contaminated
  • Urge to place things in a specific order
  • Worry about getting hurt or other being hurt
  • Need for checking whether the door is locked, or the stove is turned off, etc.

Signs and symptoms of compulsions include:

  • Washing hands repeatedly and consecutively
  • Counting in specific patterns
  • Finishing tasks or putting things in a specific order
  • Checking your doors and stoves excessively


What are the causes of OCD?

Doctors have not discovered what are the exact causes of obsessive-compulsive disorder.

OCD may be relative to biological factors, such as the abnormal areas in the brain. Genetics may be to blame, but there still needs more evidence.

The following conditions can make you more likely to have OCD:

  • Having a family history of OCD
  • Anxiety and stress
  • Depression

How do doctors know whether you have OCD?

To diagnose OCD, your doctor may give you a physical exam to check whether there is any complication.

Then your doctor may give you an evaluation of your psychological status. You and your doctor will discuss your feelings, thoughts, and symptoms. Based on your condition, your doctor will make the diagnosis.


How to prevent OCD?

There is no sure way that can promise the prevention of OCD yet. However, a healthy lifestyle, including a healthy diet, regular exercise, enough sleep, and enough relaxation, can help you have a better psychological condition.


What are the treatments for OCD?

Although there is no cure for OCD, some treatments can still help control the symptoms. Treatments include psychotherapies and medications. You may need both of them based on your condition.

Psychotherapies include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This involves exposure and response management, which can help you deal with your anxiety.

Besides, medications can also help improve your symptoms. Some antidepressants are approved by FDA to treat OCD. Before you take any medication, remember to consult your doctor first.


What are the medications for OCD?

FDA has approved some psychiatric medications to treat OCD. These antidepressants can help improve the symptoms. Here are some of them:

  • Sertraline (Zoloft)
  • Paroxetine (Paxil)
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac)
  • Clomipramine (Anafranil)
  • Fluvoxamine


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* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.