Warning Signs of OCD
• Do you wish you had an “off” button so you could stop thinking about the same thing over and over?
• Do you feel the need to repeat a ritual that would be embarrassing if others knew what you were doing?
• Are you so competitive that if you are not the winner or the absolute best you feel deeply upset?
• Do you need to control everything and everyone?
• Do you worry about your sexuality, your performance or your orientation?
• Do you wash your hands repeatedly? Do you take several showers a day? Are you a neat freak? Does mess, disorder or dirt bother you a lot?
• Do you bite your nails, pick scabs or pimples, pull skin, pull out hairs, or mutilate your body in some other way?
• Do you hoard items, especially things that are not really needed, or in amounts that are excessive?
If you answered yes to these questions you may have obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Interventions and treatments for obsessive-compulsive symptoms can bring you relief and a new lease on life.
Treatment Options for OCD
There are several kinds of treatment for OCD. Psychotherapy, behavior therapy, and medicines are available for people who have obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Most research and psychiatrists recommend Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) as the therapy of choice for this condition. CBT is not concerned with the reasons that someone is OCD instead they focus on extinguishing the symptoms and changing the negative self-statements that often occur. CBT is most successful when the patient practices the techniques that are taught by a qualified therapist. CBT is often used with children who have OCD.
Some people want to understand the underlying sources of anxiety that contribute to their obsessive thinking, rather than focusing only on symptoms. Talking therapies, such as interpersonal psychotherapy or psychoanalysis are recommended for patients who are willing to use insight, reflection and analysis to explore their issues.
Medicine may be necessary and is prescribed by a psychiatrist or internist to alleviate symptoms of OCD. SSRI’s such as Prozac are often used because they reduce anxiety which helps change obsessive thinking and compulsive actions. Other kinds of prescription medications are also available.
Alternative remedies, such as teas or valerian root can help. Acupuncture, relaxation and yoga, may reduce anxiety, which in turn, allows an individual to manage their obsessive-compulsive symptoms.
These two examples illustrate why it is important to treat OCD.
David vs. Drivers
David, age 7, had a compulsion to walk 6 steps forward and 3 steps backward. This did not seem harmful. One day David reported that he was crossing the street as usual, and when he walked backwards a car had started to turn… and almost ran him over.
Anna vs. Doctors
A 30-something year old dancer was obsessed about her body and health. She maintained a strict macrobiotic diet, often used colonics, natural vitamins, remedies and did yoga on a daily basis. Anna followed an obsessive-compulsive regimen concerning diet, exercise and beliefs. Despite her healthy lifestyle she developed a lump in her breast. Though traditional and alternative doctors diagnosed it as breast cancer, Anna refused surgery and traditional treatments. She babied her breast for nine years until it became black and started to ooze. She sought treatment from holistic doctors who insisted that she have surgery. Afterwards, she obsessed about the surgery believing she made a mistake and she refused to continue appropriate treatment.
Anna died due to untreated obsessive-compulsive disorder. After her death, her diaries documented the degree of torment that she suffered, physically and psychologically.
People may suffer from obsessions, compulsions or both.
The symptoms can be found on a continuum from mild to severe.
Treatment is based on the degree that the disorder interferes with one’s daily life.
Treatment should be sought when the obsessions or compulsions cause significant distress; for example:
- They are time consuming and the rituals take up more than 1 hour a day
- Normal routines are significantly disturbed
- Symptoms cause problems in school or work
- Interference in socialization and relationships
- Sleeping and eating become problematic
Treatment varies according to the severity of the symptoms, and the degree to which the disorder interferes with functioning.
Patients can use one kind of treatment, or a combination of treatments.