Obsessive-compulsive disorder, also known as OCD, is a very real psychological condition that can be taken for granted in modern society. Unfortunately, the term ‘obsessive-compulsive’ has become a modern idiom we use to describe anyone who might be considered a perfectionist, detail orientated or meticulous. Such a loose application of the term does injustice to those who are suffering from the clinical disorder.
OCD is a condition that can be mild on one end of the spectrum while completely debilitating on the other. The severity of the disorder in any one patient depends on a number of factors, including the specific compulsions, what triggers them, and how the patient views his or her own condition.
Because OCD can be complex, it requires professional treatment to overcome. We are here to help you get that treatment if you believe you are suffering from OCD. One call to us gives you access to OCD rehab clinics and support groups around the country. In just a very short time, you could be on the road to recovery from obsessive-compulsive disorder. Just like addiction rehab, OCD rehab has its specific requirements and programmes.
Clinical Definition of OCD
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is an anxiety disorder that will result in a handful of very definitive and measurable manifestations:
- intrusive thoughts resulting in irrational fear, worry, and apprehension
- repetitive behaviours the patient believes are necessary to relieve anxiety
- increased anxiety if the repetitive behaviour is unsatisfactory.
Clinical OCD should not be confused with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD). OCPD is a personality disorder characterised by a preoccupation with orderliness, in its many forms, at the expense of any measure of flexibility. It is part of the autism spectrum rather than an anxiety disorder.
If a patient is suffering from genuine OCD, he or she will usually recognise their own compulsive behaviours to the point of knowing they are irrational and need to be corrected. Yet he or she is unable to make the changes necessary to do so. This is the primary difference between the two disorders. The OCD patient recognises the issues; the OCPD patient does not.
Symptoms of OCD
The definition of obsessive-compulsive disorder gives us a great deal of insight into the symptoms patients will exhibit. Right from the start, the disorder’s name indicates the main symptom of a patient compulsively engaging in some repetitive behaviour without any rational basis for doing so. That individual is unable to stop engaging in the behaviour at a moment’s notice. He or she must wait until their anxiety has subsided before they can managed to stop themself.
Some of the recognisable symptoms of OCD are as follows:
- excessive washing or cleaning rituals
- repeated checking of surroundings, circumstances or details
- obsessive thought patterns (for example, violent behaviour, religion, sex)
- obsession over personal relationships
- resistance to certain behaviours by others
- aversion to specific numbers, letters or words
- ritual behaviours (for example, opening/closing doors, turning light switches on/off, etc.).
As obsessive-compulsive disorder progresses, a patient may become paranoid or borderline psychotic. However, such cases are the exception to the rule. Most of the time OCD is recognised and treated before it reaches such advanced stages.
For those living with an OCD patient, the condition can be extremely frustrating and annoying, especially when it causes routine inconvenience. The patient often experiences the same frustrating emotions as well. The difference is in how the patient handles those emotions.
While family members can shake it off and move on, OCD patients can feel overwhelmed by the fact that they cannot control either their anxieties or their compulsive behaviours. Sometimes a patient will develop new compulsive rituals as a means of battling those other behaviours he or she does not like. This only serves to increase anxiety levels, which, in turn, lead to new compulsions.
OCD is very treatable through medication and psychotherapy. It is important to seek help for yourself or a loved one if any symptoms of OCD are observed.
A typical OCD rehab scenario involves a combination of both medication and psychotherapy. Medications are prescribed when a patient suffering from mild OCD is not helped with behavioural therapy alone, or when the patient has been diagnosed with moderate to severe OCD. The purpose of medication is to increase the amount of serotonin in the brain.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter used by the brain to transmit information from one cell to the next. It is believed that increasing serotonin levels enables the OCD patient to think more clearly, thus allowing him or her to better respond to psychotherapy.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is the most common type of therapy used to treat OCD patients. Within CBT is a specialised therapy known as exposure and response prevention (ERP); it has proved to be a very successful rehab treatment for patients suffering from moderate to severe OCD.
ERP works by identifying specific circumstances that trigger anxiety in the patient. Once identified, the therapist creates those circumstances to purposely trigger anxiety without allowing the patient to engage in his or her compulsive behaviour. With practice, the patient learns to deal with his/her anxiety in ways that are more acceptable.
As part of the treatment, patients learn several strategies for continued self-treatment after professional sessions end. The patient will learn how to trigger his or her own anxieties in order to face them down without engaging in their compulsions. Though this may sound scary at first, most patients can become very proficient at self-treatment.
Start Your Recovery Today
If you or a loved one suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder, you know how troubling it can be. Nevertheless, help is available right now if you are ready to start down the road to recovery. We urge you to contact us via telephone or e-mail, so we can begin working with you to get you the help you need.
There is no need for you to continue living as a prisoner to OCD. You can learn to face your anxieties without engaging in compulsive behaviour; you can learn to overcome your irrational fears; you can learn to break those obsessive thought patterns that rule your life. It only takes a decision and a willingness to seek help. Are ready to change your life?