Obsessions and Compulsions
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, commonly referred to as OCD, is an anxiety disorder that traps people in repetitive thoughts and behavioral rituals (obsessions and compulsions) that can manifest into a disabling mental illness. People who suffer from OCD often have uncontrollable thoughts or impulses that can occur over and over and lead to repetitive behaviors in order to drive out fears of harm or contamination.
Researchers have found that the overall cause of OCD results from a biological predisposition acquired in childhood that eventually morphs into a faulty thought pattern. Clients often say they understand how useless their obsessions and compulsions are and know they are not normal. Many say that no matter what they do to overcome feeling threatened, the effect doesn’t last long and many times that same fear continues to worsen. In severe cases, people become so frantic that they are scared to leave their home.
OCD commonly coexists with other mental illnesses, such as depression, eating disorders, ADHD, and others. Although the symptoms wax and wane over the years, if left untreated, the disorder will eventually take over and affect someone’s life for decades.
Research shows that both medication and behavioral therapy have been proven to be effective in treating OCD. Medication allows the frequency of the obsessions and compulsions to become easier to manage on a daily basis. Therapy focuses on two things — unraveling the irrational thoughts clients suffer from and then gradually exposing them to an object or idea that creates fear in order to desensitize them and teach them to tolerate the anxiety.
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