What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

Symptoms of obsessionObsessive compulsive disorder is a serious mental disorder. The affected people compulsorily reintroduce the same rituals or are troubled by disturbing thoughts, which they can not escape.

Although they recognize that their actions and fears are irrational, they can not control their thinking and actions. As soon as they try to stop them, restlessness and anxiety rise in them – and produce an increasing internal pressure, which they can not sustain in the long run.


Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Definition

The obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a serious mental disorder that is severely debilitating.

Charles Darwin and Martin Luther are said to have suffered a distress. Compulsive disorder includes a wide range of behavioral and other psychological characteristics. The affected person is persecuted by forced thoughts or is under the pressure to carry out certain actions again and again in ritualized form.

This can be the compulsion to wash yourself according to a certain scheme or to count things. Others have the compelling idea of having to commit acts of violence or sexually undesirable actions.

A bit of compulsion is normal

There is a bit of compulsion in every human being – superstitious ideas are just as much a part as harmless rituals. Thus, some otherwise rational man feels a slight discomfort when he is to sign an important contract on Friday the 13th.

The transition from normal behavior to compulsive disorder is different. For example, some may feel compelled to check once again whether the stove is switched off before sleeping, even if they have not cooked at all.

Others, on the other hand, have to do a multi-hour wash rinse before they can leave the house. In principle, a compulsive disorder only applies when the person suffers from it or is severely restricted in his everyday life.

How many people are affected?

People who suffer from a compulsive disorder are often ashamed of their irrational behavior. Experts estimate that about one to three percent of the population is affected by a disorder during their lifetime. There are more control pressures in men, whereas women suffer more frequently from washing or cleaning. In addition to the obsessive-compulsive disorder, other mental disorders such as depression or anxiety disorders occur.

Forced Control

You can find out how a control constraint is expressed and how it is treated.

Constraints in children: Compulsive disorder often begins in childhood or adolescence. In about half of those affected, the first signs of obsessive-compulsive disorder appear before age fifteen.

Children and young people often try to keep these constraints secret. Boys are more often affected than girls. Massively, the constraints often manifest themselves in life crises or conflict situations.

Compulsive disorder in children is treated as well as in adults in the context of cognitive behavioral therapy. If the constraints are very pronounced, medicines, especially selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors may also be used in children.


Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Causes and Risk Factors

What causes obsessive compulsive disorderHow compulsory disruption arise is not yet clear. Family studies and twin studies show that, as with most mental illnesses, there is a hereditary pre-stress for the compulsive disorder.

In order to break out, however, further factors must be added. These include, for example, childhood experiences that have led to a person being more insecure and having a stronger need for control.

In most cases, compulsive disorder is a particularly stressful experience or life crisis. With the help of the forced ritual, the affected person regains the lost sense of security.

The external uncertainty is balanced by an inner structure. But this security is deceptive: if the ritual is not carried out, fear returns with power. In the long term, it becomes increasingly stronger, which in turn increases compulsory disorder – a devil’s circle.

Overactive brain lobes

In the meantime, it is known that the brain’s frontal lobes are overactive in people with an obsessive-compulsive disorder. These are brain structures that are responsible for the motor processes.

This hypothesis is hardened by the fact that people whose basal ganglia are affected by tumors or head injuries are not infrequently affected by the development of obsessive-compulsive disorder.

In addition, the serotonin content in the brain appears to be disrupted in people with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Many patients are taking medications that increase serotonin levels.

Environmental Influences

Together with the personality and the biological conditions can contribute to the development of the compulsive disorder. Children who are more anxious, are additionally unsettled by their overbearing behavior.

They learn from the parents to avoid menacing situations, rather than stand up to them. Even parents who are very critical with the children or who have perfectionist expectations can promote a compulsive disorder.

Triggers of a compulsive disorder are often incriminating events. Any over-demand creates the desire for control. If, however, the situation is not manageable for the person, forced thoughts and compulsions serve on the one hand as a distraction.

On the other hand, forced thoughts and actions provide persons who are anxious and have an increased need for security, the illusion of basically controlling uncontrollable events. For example, they hope to be able to avert disasters by means of certain rituals.


Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Diagnosis

Frequently, those concerned are ashamed of their compulsion because they feel it as nonsensical. It is difficult for them to trust a psychologist or doctor.

However, those concerned should be aware that the strange thoughts and actions are part of a compulsive disorder and many people struggle with the same or similar constraints.

Above all, constraints do not usually disappear by themselves. Therefore, It is important to answer the doctor or psychologist frankly and honestly, so that doctor or psychologist can recognize and deal with the obsessive compulsive disorder.

Diagnosis

For the diagnosis of the compulsive disorder, the therapist focuses on the ICD-10 classification of mental disorders. The following criteria must apply:

Those affected have compulsive or compulsive (or both) on most days for a period of at least two weeks.

The compulsive thoughts and actions show the following characteristics:

  • The concerned persons know that the thoughts / actions are their own and are not generated by external influences
  • The thoughts / actions are constantly repeated, are perceived as unpleasant, and recognized as exaggerated or absurd
  • The victims are trying to resist the obsessions or actions
  • The execution of the compulsive thoughts or actions are felt unpleasant

In a first interview, the doctor or therapist will determine whether the above criteria apply to the person. The expert could ask the following questions:

  • Do you often have unpleasant thoughts that are pressing on you?
  • Do you feel an inner pressure to carry out certain actions again and again?
  • Do you feel these thoughts or actions as nonsensical?
  • Are you afraid that something bad could happen if you did not perform the actions?

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Treatment

The best treatment success is shown by cognitive behavioral therapy. The therapist discusses the specific procedure with the patient at the beginning of the therapy. One method in cognitive behavioral therapy is exposure exercises that are considered to be particularly effective.

While the urge to follow the usual ritual seems overwhelming at first, the patient experiences pressure slowly, without the compulsion. Through this conscious experience, he gains a little more control over his behavior. However, at the beginning of compulsive disorder therapy, it may take several hours for this effect to occur.

To cope with compulsive thoughts, patients are encouraged to allow the unpleasant thoughts. Because the suppression causes occur even more frequently. If the concerned people get involved with it and deal directly with the thoughts, they can defeat their constraints.

In addition, the behavioral therapist explains to the patient how constraints develop and helps him to change unfavorable mental patterns. Methods for reducing stress such as autogenic training, progressive muscle relaxation or mindfulness training also have a supporting effect.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Medications

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) – a special group of antidepressants help a large part of the compulsive disorder. They usually need to be significantly higher in doses than in the treatment of depression.

The intake decreases the inner tension in most patients. The symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder are diminishing, but usually do not disappear completely, and are also reversed again after discontinuation of the medications. Therefore, Concomitant cognitive behavior therapy is always recommended.

Tips for Relatives

A compulsive disorder is not only a burden for the patient but also for those who live with it. The time-consuming compulsions are also at the expense of the partners and the family. Sometimes they are even required to submit to compulsion, for example, by complying with exaggerated hygienic rules.

The following tips can help you to cope with the difficult situation:

  • The forced ritual can only be deliberately limited by the patient and can be controlled with great effort. Therefore, the demand to get together or to discuss the meaninglessness of doing does not help. The therapy is the only helpful.
  • Encourage your loved ones to seek therapeutic help
  • Do not support your sick relatives in their ritual. Do not help him, for example, to control all electrical appliances or leave things for him before he leaves the house. In the long run, you are only stabilizing your compulsive behavior
  • Praise him for progress, but do not criticize him if the symptoms intensify once again- for example,when concerned person is under pressure. Such fluctuations in symptom are normal
  • Do not allow yourself to be forced by your relative. Continue to pursue your hobbies, make friends, and try to do something with the compulsorily as well
  • If you are sometimes angry, this is inevitable and make it clear that this is related to the symptoms and not to your loved ones

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Course and Prognosis

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder usually occurs chronically. Symptoms worsen under the stress. Nevertheless, with the current state of psychotherapy and certain drugs, the chances of an improvement in the symptoms have increased significantly. A poorer prognosis is affected by those who suffer from depression.

Previously, obsessive-compulsive disorder was considered to be barely treatable. In the meantime, the symptoms can usually be reduced to a tolerable level. The earlier the therapy begins, prognosis is better.

Long-term studies have shown that the condition of about two-thirds of treated patients has improved or improved two to six years after therapy. However, a complete cure of the compulsive disorder is very rare.

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