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Have you ever left the house and wondered if you have switched something off or closed a window properly? If so, you'll know how annoying it is to feel even slightly obsessive about something. But for victims of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) the situation is a hundred times worse.
Most sufferers of OCD cannot make it though the day without carrying out small rituals such as excessive hand washing, checking electrical sockets and so on. Victims fear that if they break these rituals, they will become contaminated or something terrible will happen to them or a loved one.
Could it Be You?
Many of may be sitting in front of your computers thinking 'Oh my god, that sounds like me!'. Don't worry. Most people feel superstitious about certain things, for example standing on cracks in the pavement or walking under ladders.
If your worried that you may be suffering from OCD, here are three questions that you should ask yourself:
Are your habits/rituals taking up more than an hour of your day?
Are they stopping you doing things you want to do?
Are they causing you distress and annoyance?
Who's More Likely to Be Affected?
The Researcher of this entry was unable to retrieve any facts to suggest that a particular gender was more at risk of OCD. Some information, however, seems to suggest that men tend to have the disorder earlier on in life than women, with most men being diagnosed between the ages of six and 15, while women are often diagnosed in their 20s.
Men are more likely to have 'chronic' OCD whereas women are more likely to have 'acute' or 'episodic' OCD. Men are also more likely to have co-morbidities ie, Tourettes syndrome, an anxiety disorder, ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), and so on.
It has been shown that you are more likely to have OCD during adolescence (childhood/teen). PANDAS (Paediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcal Infections) is a term that is used to describe a subset of children who have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and/or a tic disorder such as Tourettes syndrome. There is no evidence to prove that it is caused by childhood experiences or is anything to do with the individual's basic personality.
What are the Symptoms?
The most common signs of OCD are repeated hand-washing, mental rituals such as doing things in threes, checking things many times and wanting things to be arranged in certain ways.
OCD sufferers also tend to be plagued by unpleasant thoughts and ideas that they cannot get out of their mind. This is the obsessive part of the disorder. Additionally, victims feel they have to do certain tasks even if they don't want to. This is the compulsive part.
Not all people with OCD will have both obsessions and compulsions; many people have just one or the other of the symptoms.
What are the Causes?
The causes of OCD are yet to be established, but it is thought to be a chemical imbalance in the brain.
The most popular way of treating OCD is with therapy and/or medication. One of the most common therapies is called Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT). This particular type of therapy is centred around teaching sufferers how to recognise and change the way they behave, for example, they're taught to change the way they respond to any unwanted thoughts and obsessions.
CBT also helps sufferers to learn how to control their compulsions and deal with terrible feelings of anxiety that OCD often causes. During the treatment, OCD sufferers will be encouraged to confront the things they are afraid of, this is a technique known as 'habituation'.
The most effective medications for OCD are SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors), medicines such as Prozac, Paxil, Luvox and Zoloft as well as Tricyclic Anafronil are all proven effective for OCD. Other medications are frequently added to improve the effects.
Unfortunately there is no 'quick fix' for OCD sufferers and it is rare for the disorder to just 'disappear'. Treatment usually takes time and a lot of patience but it is worth it.
Here are some links to websites for more information on OCD: