What Is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder All About
You might have heard of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and wondered what exactly it is. OCD affects people of different ages and backgrounds. As the name suggests, it involves a person getting caught up a cycle of both obsessions and compulsions. What exactly are these things? Obsessions are thoughts, urges, or images that are unwanted and trigger very strong feelings of distress. How about compulsions? These are behaviors a person does to try to end obsessions or lower his/her distress.
Like other conditions, the basis of OCD are behaviors that are quite normal in people’s lives. For example, the majority of people have experienced some obsessive thoughts or compulsive behavior during their lives. That said, it doesn’t mean that everyone in the world has OCD. People who are obsessed with obsessive/compulsive disorder experience the obsessions and compulsions to such an extreme that it prevents them from doing their everyday activities.
It’s important to note that there’s a wide variety of common obsessions linked to OCD. They include:
- Losing Control
- Sexual Thoughts
Meanwhile, common compulsions linked to OCD include Mental, Repeating, Washing/Cleaning, and Checking. As with other conditions, it’s important not to assume a person has OCD just because they show behavior that OCD sufferers can have. For example, just because a person wants to keep their home or office clean it doesn’t mean they have an obsession with contamination.
If you think a loved one you know might have OCD, it’s important for them to get an evaluation by a certified expert. It will help to ensure that they’re diagnosed property about whether or not they indeed have OCD.
The definition of obsessive-compulsive disorder has changed greatly over the years. For example, during the 1600s obsessions/compulsions were often described as signs of a person having religious melancholy. There are several cases of this during that time. Its basis was on people’s misunderstanding of what the condition was.
However, modern ideas about OCD started to evolve during the 1800s. During this type psychology, itself was changing, and several new theories were popular in the profession. For example, “neurosis” referred to a neuropathological condition. During this time obsessions slowly became a separate classification from delusions. Meanwhile, compulsions also became new classifications that were distinguished “impulsions.” Psychiatrists debated whether OCD results in disorders of a person’s emotions, mind, or will.
A major change in the classification of OCD took place at the start of the 1900s. That’s when Sigmund Freud and others classified OCD as a different condition as “neurasthenia.” Pierre Janet proposed that compulsions/obsessions occurred in the 3rd stage of psychasthenic illness. The belief is that a person lacked enough psychological tension to do high-level mental activities. There was a move from nervous industry into more basic psychological functions like obsessions /compulsions.
- Symptoms/Treatment (specific drugs)
- Fears of contamination
- Obsession with things in orderly/symmetrical way
- Stressed when objects face a different direction
- Fear shaking hands/touching objects
- Counting in patterns
- Checking if stove is off
- Phrase/prayer said repeatedly
- Checking for locked doors
- Strict routine
- Arranging items to face one way
- Hand washing
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one type of psychotherapy that is often effective for people suffering from OCD. One kind of CPT therapy known as exposure and response prevention (ERP) involves slowly exposing people to feared objects/obsessions like dirt. The patient learns healthy/effective ways to deal with anxiety.
It’s important to note that ERP requires effort/practice. However, when OCD sufferers learn how to manage obsessions/compulsions better, it can improve their quality of life. Therapy can involve sessions that include individuals, family, or groups.
It is usually the first type of psychiatric medication that’s used to treat OCD patients. There are various ones that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved to treat OCD including:
- Clomipramine (Anafranil)
- Fluoxetine (Prozac)
- Paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva)
- Sertraline (Zoloft)
These medications are for adults and children of different age groups. It’s important to get guidance from a mental health professional to make sure the patient is taking the best medication for their situation. As with other physical/mental conditions, no panacea works 100% of the time. In fact, it’s possible medications might be changed if the first one(s) aren’t effective.
When picking a medication, the main goal is usually to control the symptoms using the lowest dosage of the medication possible. It’s common to go through to different drug tests before selecting one that works the best. It’s also possible a doctor will prescribe different medications for different symptoms. It can sometimes take weeks/months before there’s a big change in the patient’s symptoms.
When picking a medication here are some of the most important factors to consider:
It’s important to note that it’s possible for any psychiatric medications to cause side-effects. It’s important to talk to a doctor about the possible ones and any health monitoring that’s required while the OCD patient is taking the psychiatric drugs. After a patient starts taking a certain drug they should also contact their doctor if they start experiencing any side-effects.
It is one of the general problems using prescription meds to treat various physical /mental conditions. Such medications have powerful chemicals that can provide quite results. However, the main drawback is they can also cause unwanted side-effects due to the chemicals. It explains why more people are choosing holistic/alternative options since they don’t include the high risk of side-effects.
- Interactions with substances
It’s important to note that when OCD patients are taking an antidepressant, it’s critical to inform the physician about other prescriptions or OTC medications, or supplements like herbs they’re taking. The reason is some anti-depressants can cause negative reactions when combined with particular medications or supplements.
It is also in line with the issue of whether or not OCD patients should take prescription meds to treat their conditions. Some patients insist they treat their condition holistically. When that’s the case, they only use treatments like psychotherapy and natural supplements. While prescription meds can certainly be effective one of the main possible drawbacks is the potential side-effects they can cause.
- Risk of suicide
The majority of anti-depressants are safe. However, the US’ FDA requires that all anti-depressions include black box warnings. They are the strictest warnings added to prescription meds.
For example, there are cases when kids, teens, and young adults below the age of 25 might have higher rates of suicidal thoughts/behavior when they’re on the anti-depressants. This situation is most common during the first couple of weeks on the meds or when the OCD patient’s doctor changes the dose.
In the case that the patient experiences suicidal thoughts, it’s important to contact the doctor quickly or contact the emergency number for help. While there’s a risk of suicidal thoughts, it’s important to note the meds provide long-term benefits in reducing the risk of suicide. That happens by improving the patient’s mood.
- Stopping anti-depressants
Antidepressants fall into the category of addictive drugs. However, there are times physical dependence can take place. Keep in mind that this isn’t the same as addiction. As a result stopping OCD treatments quickly can result in various symptoms that are like withdrawal. It is also known as “discontinuation syndrome.”
If you have OCD and you’re taking prescription medications, it’s important not to stop taking them without your doctor’s permission. That’s even true if your symptoms start going away. There’s a chance that the OCD symptoms could return. So it’s important to communicate with your doctor so you can slowly/safely lower your dosage of your meds.
- Deep Brain Stimulation
When psychotherapy and medications don’t work, DBS is the next option. However, take into consideration that DBS hasn’t been tested completely for treating OCD. So it’s important to learn all the pros/cons and health risks related to making a decision.
- Drug Abuse of OCD Medications
There have been reports that over one-quarter of people treated for OCD also meet the requirements for substance disorders. Also, people who experience OCD symptoms first when they’re a child are more likely to have a drug/alcohol addiction later. It is often a way to deal with the high degree of anxiety/fear. When giving treatment for OCD patients suffering from drug addiction, it’s important for their emotional symptoms related to OCD to be dealt with to get the best results.
What’s the most effective way to deal with the disorders of OCD and drug addiction? TI’s important to join a program that includes trained health/addiction professionals who have experience treating both OCD and drug addiction. That can help to produce the best results.
OCD patients not only can experience general drug addiction but addiction to their medications is also possible. It is even the case when they have a prescription from their doctor for the meds. One of the most common types of addictions is to anti-depressants. That’s because they’re one of the most common types of medications prescribed for OCD patients.
It’s important to note that anti-depressants aren’t addictive like alcohol, cocaine, heroin, etc. The reason is that people who are addicted to antidepressants don’t have the cravings the other substances cause.
People who become addicted to antidepressants might have never prescribed to use them. Some people are wrongly diagnosed with depression and then prescribed anti-depressants. In fact, there is misdiagnosis to about two-thirds of people prescribed these drugs.
Physicians are still debating today whether or not antidepressants are addictive. In fact, many of them consider the drugs to be not addictive. However, others say that because they cause withdrawal, it’s a sign that dependence is possible. People who stop anti-depressants do have symptoms of withdrawal like tremors, nausea, and depression.
Should people with OCD take anti-depressants due to the possibility of them being addictive? There are certainly some risks linked to taking anti-depressants. However, the meds have helped several people to live better and healthier lives. If you’re weighing whether you should stop taking your antidepressants do make sure to consult a doctor before doing it. Anti-depressants are one of the most often prescribed meds in the US. Doctors tend to consider the drugs as safer because there’s a lower risk of abuse. However, there are still people who abuse anti-depressants so there’s a chance that it could happen.
How does it happen? In many cases, it involves a person boosting the dosage that was doctor-prescribed. They do that when they think the drug doesn’t seem to be working. Some people combine other substances like alcohol to boost the effects of the medications.
In the long-term anti-depressants can stop working for OCD patients. That can cause some users to boost their doses when they were not getting the relief they had when first prescribed with the meds.
- Drug Rehab/Recovery for OCD Medications
As with other drug addictions, it’s important for OCD patients to get help with rehabilitation and recovery when they start abusing their meds. There are various reasons why this is important. Anti-depressant addiction can develop quickly. After taking the drugs, their personality can change quickly. If the person feels happier after taking the drugs, there’s a chance they’ll become dependent on them.
Here’s the thing. As with other drugs, the effects of the anti-depressants can drop over time as their tolerance increases. Doctors sometimes reduce the dosage or change to a drug that’s stronger. When a person builds more tolerance for a certain antidepressant, they’ll be more likely to develop a craving for them. That’s even true if the drug doesn’t include substances that are addictive.
Drug abuse treatment is a requirement for many addicts of anti-depressants. It usually includes support groups and psychological counseling. It allows OCD patients to deal with the various problems that are causing their depression. Studies show that this type of treatment works with people who have become dependent on their prescription anti-depressant drugs.