Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

It’s the end of the work week and I haven’t blogged in nearly a week. I have not only been busy with work but with life in general. I mentioned in my last two blogs that once mental health week was over with, that I would continue educating you on a particular mental health diagnosis. That is what I plan on doing this evening. I plan on educating you on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). I have been diagnosed with a mild form of OCD. The information I am about to tell you I got off of the Natation Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) website at nami.org.

What is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?

     Obsessions are intrusive, irrational thoughts – unwanted ideas or impulses that repeatedly appear in a person’s mind. Again and again, the person experiences disturbing thoughts, such as “My hands must be contaminated; I need to wash them”; “I may have left the gas stove on; I need to go check it fast”; I am going to injure my child by accident; I need to be very careful or else something bad will happen.” On one level, he or she fears these thoughts might be true. Trying to avoid such thoughts creates great anxiety, distress and dysfunction.

     Compulsions are repetitive riturals such as hand washing, counting, checking, hoarding or arranging. An individual repeats these actions many times throughout the day and performing these actions releases anxiety, but only momentarily. People with OCD feel they mush perform these compulsive rituals or something bad will happen to them or their loved ones.

Most people at one time or another will experience obsessive thoughts or compulsive behaviors. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder occurs when an individual experiences obsessions and compulsions for more than an hour each day, in a way that interferes with his or her life. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that more than 2 percent of the U.S population, or nearly one out of every 40 people, will be diagnosed with OCD at some point in their lives. The disorder is two or three times more common than schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

OCD is often described as “a disease of doubt.” Individuals living with OCD experience “pathological doubt” because they are unable to distinguish between what is possible, what is probable and what is unlikely to happen.

Who gets OCD?

People from all walks of life can get OCD. It strikes people of all social and ethnic groups and both males and females. Symptoms typically begin in childhood, the teenage years or young adulthood. The sudden appearance of OCD symptoms later in life merits a thorough medical evaluation to ensure that another illness is not the cause of these symptoms.

What causes OCD?

People with OCD can often say “why” they have obsessive thoughts or “why” they behave compulsively, but the thoughts and the behavior continue. A large body of scientific evidence suggest that OCD results from a chemical imbalance in the brain. For years, mental health professionals incorrectly assumed OCD resulted from bad parenting or personality defects. This theory has been disproven over the last few decades. People whose brains are injured sometimes develop OCD, which suggest it is a medical condition. If a placebo pill is given to people who are depressed or who experience panic attacks, nearly 40 percent say they feel better. If a placebo is given to people who experience obsessive-compulsive disorder, only about two percent say they feel better. This also suggest that OCD is a biological condition as opposed to a “personality problem.”

Genetics are thought to be very important in OCD. If you, or your parent or sibling, have OCD, there’s close to a 25 percent chance that another of your immediate family members will have it.

OCD has been found to be connected with dysfunction in certain parts of the brain, can cause the repetitive movements and rigid thinking that effects people with OCD. Successful treatment with medication or behavior therapy changes the activity in these brain regions, which decreases the symptoms of OCD. Two specific chemicals in the brain – a neurotransmitter called serotonin and a hormone called vasopressin – have also been studied by scientist who have found a link between these chemicals and OCD. Researchers believe OCD, anxiety disorders, Tourette’s and eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia, can be triggered by some of the same chemical changes in the brain.

A world-renowned expert, Judith Rapopart M.D., describes OCD by writing, ” something in the brain is stuck, like a broken record.”

Now that I have educated you on OCD, I hope that you have learned something. I got the above information  from NAMI’s website at nami.org.

I plan on blogging on one mental health diagnosis a week so I can be able to continue to educate others on mental illness. I just want to  lessen the stigma of mental illness. I am going to call it an evening. Peace Out!!

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