People with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) suffer from intrusive thoughts that cause them to feel stressed, anxious, and even physically unwell. People affected by OCD may behave in certain ways based on their compulsions i.e., obsessions.
About 2% of people are thought to have OCD at some point in their lives – it affects men and women equally.
Although there are treatments available, OCD is a challenging condition to deal with because people can’t “just stop” having distressing thoughts or behaving in ways that are out of their control.
What’s it lLke to Live with OCD? We Take a Look…
What are the symptoms of OCD?
Obsessions are repeated thoughts, impulses, or images that occur over & over again. They are intrusive and cause a great deal of distress. Common obsessions include fear of dirt or contamination; fear of harming oneself or others; an excessive need for order or symmetry; unwanted sexual thoughts or images about hurting children.
Compulsions are urges to repeat certain behaviours or tasks over and over again. They are usually done in an attempt to neutralize or stop the anxiety caused by the obsessions. Common compulsions include excessive hand-washing, cleaning, checking, counting, or hoarding.
People with OCD may experience a range of symptoms that can vary from mild to disabling. Some people show symptoms mainly during times of stress, while others experience them every day.
How is OCD Treated?
There are several treatments available for people with OCD, depending on their symptoms and how severe the condition is.
Medication can help to control compulsions and anxiety caused by obsessions. Anti-anxiety medicines called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are usually prescribed first to treat the condition. If SSRIs prove ineffective or lead to uncomfortable side effects, other options include clomipramine, risperidone, fluphenazine decanoate, quetiapine fumarate, olanzapine. Tricyclic antidepressants can also be used. The benzodiazepines alprazolam and clonazepam can help to reduce anxiety.
Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) is a type of counselling that aims to change the way you think and behave. In particular, it can help you identify negative thought patterns and irrational beliefs that may be behind your symptoms. It involves gradually exposing yourself to feared situations or being confronted with an obsessive thought to help you learn that these things are harmless.
In addition, other forms of psychotherapy are effective for some people including self-help therapies such as stress management programs and behavioural therapy which helps a person use a structured program of activities designed around their needs e.g., social skills training, activity scheduling, relaxation training, assertiveness training.
What’s it like to live with OCD? Many people experience this condition and yet don’t seek help – or they find treatments ineffective.
OCD is a challenging condition to deal with because the symptoms aren’t just “all in your head.” As a psychiatrist in Bhopal, Dr. Sanjeet Diwan explains: “Even if you tell yourself ‘That thought about hurting someone is nonsense’ nobody can make that go away instantly; it will come back again. That makes living with OCD very difficult.”
Treating OCD involves getting an accurate diagnosis (from a psychiatrist) and making sure the treatment chosen is suitable for you. Not everyone responds well to SSRIs, for instance, but some may benefit from CBT or other therapies.
Getting diagnosed with OCD can be challenging, too. Signs of the condition vary from person to person and it is often only when the disorder has reached a very advanced stage those friends, family members, or even the sufferer themselves realize that something’s wrong.” But then if you ask them about their obsessions and compulsions they will immediately know what you’re talking about,” continues Dr. Diwan. “They say ‘That’s me! That’s exactly how I feel!'”
“It’s not like there are any physical changes in people with OCD; it’s all in their head. So many people think ‘I’m just making this up… which makes living with this illness even harder.”
I hope you found this article useful and now know more about the mental illness OCD. It’s one of the hardest conditions to live with because it feels so real – even though nobody else can see it. It can take years for people with OCD to get a diagnosis and often they find treatments don’t work or only help temporarily.