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31

OCD – Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

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OCD – Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Article by Chris Craigie









Obsessive compulsive disorder is an Anxiety Disorder characterized bycomplaints of persistent or repetitive thoughts (obsessions)and/orbehaviors (compulsions).

On a personal note, we have a 28 year old son who suffers from thiscondition and believe me, he is not easy to live with. He does haveother neurological disorders as well such as Asperger’s Syndrome andOppositional Defiance Disorder but OCD is by far the one problemwhich wrecks his life. We are committed to an ongoing search foranswers/cure. Below is what we’ve found out thus far.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a psychiatric disorder mostcommonly characterized by a subject’s obsessive, distressing,intrusive thoughts and related compulsions (tasks or “rituals”) whichattempt to neutralize the obsessions. To be diagnosed with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, one must have either obsessions or compulsionsalone, or obsessions and compulsions, according to the DSM-IV-TRdiagnostic criteria. Obsessive-compulsive disorder is often confusedwith the separate condition obsessive compulsive personalitydisorder. OCD is ego dystonic, meaning that the disorder isincompatible with the sufferer’s self-concept. Because disordersthat are ego dystonic go against an individual’s perception ofhis/herself, they tend to cause much distress. OCPD, on the otherhand, is ego syntonic–marked by the individual’s acceptance that thecharacteristics displayed as a result of this disorder are compatiblewith his/her self-image. Ego syntonic disorders understandably causeno distress. There is a significant difference between thesedisorders.

Because sufferers are consciously aware of this irrationality butfeel helpless to push it away, untreated OCD is often regarded as oneof the most vexing and frustrating of the major anxiety disorders. People with OCD may be diagnosed with other conditions, such asanorexia nervosa, Social Anxiety Disorder, bulimia nervosa, Tourettesyndrome, compulsive skin picking, body dysmorphic disorder andtrichotillomania. OCD is placed in the anxiety class of mentalillness, but like many chronic stress disorders it can lead toclinical depression over time. One explanation for the highdepression rate among OCD populations was posited by Mineka, Watsonand Clark (1998), who explained that people with OCD (or any otheranxiety disorder) may feel depressed because of an “out of control”type of feeling. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder tends to be slightlymore common in females than in males. Violence is very rare amongOCD sufferers, but the disorder is often debilitating and detrimentalto their quality of life. Also, the psychological self-awareness ofthe irrationality of the disorder can be painful.

It has been alleged that sufferers are generally of above-averageintelligence, as the very nature of the disorder necessitatescomplicated thinking patterns, but this has never been supported byclinical data. Studies have also been done that show nutritiondeficiencies may also be a probable cause for OCD and other mentaldisorders. Certain vitamin and mineral supplements may aid in suchdisorders and provide the nutrients necessary for proper mentalfunctioning. Emerging evidence has suggested that regular Nicotinetreatment may be helpful in improving symptoms of obsessivecompulsive disorder, although the pharmacodynamical mechanism bywhich this improvement is achieved is not yet known, and moredetailed studies are needed to fully confirm this hypothesis.

A physical exam is performed to rule out physical causes, and apsychiatric evaluation is given to rule out other psychiatricdisorders. There is no known prevention for this disorder. Differentiating between obsessive-compulsive disorder and adepressive disorder may be difficult because these two types ofsymptoms so frequently occur together. Obsessive-Compulsive Disordersymptoms can range from strange or disturbing thoughts to extreme’ritual’ behaviour. An

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