What is OCD?
How Common is OCD?
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, obsessive-compulsive disorder affects an estimated 2.3 percent of adults over 18 in the United States.1Symptoms don’t typically manifest in children, with the average age of development being around 19. However, children can experience OCD, with an estimated one percent showing OCD symptoms.2
Although anyone can be affected by OCD symptoms, a demographic is more likely to be affected. For instance, women are three times more likely to be diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder than men are. Obsessive-compulsive disorder is one of the more common disorders experienced by adults in the United States, along with depressive disorders and anxiety disorders.3
How is it Diagnosed?
OCD Diagnosis: Step OneFirst, your doctor will conduct a physical exam. This may include blood work or other tests, and it is used to help better understand if there is a physical root for what may appear to be OCD symptoms. Sometimes, the root cause may be a deficiency or a physical disorder.
OCD Diagnosis: Step TwoNext, your doctor will work to establish a better background and context for your health. This can include looking at your personal medical history and gathering more information on your family history.
OCD Diagnosis: Step ThreeFinally, after combining this information with additional information on the OCD symptoms you’re experiencing, your doctor will be able to make the diagnosis.
OCD TriggersThere is no single cause of OCD. However, certain triggers can cause OCD symptoms to either develop or grow in severity. Some of the triggers that can affect obsessive-compulsive disorder include:4
- Lack of sleep
- Poor diet
- Other mental health disorders
Types of OCD
- Causing harm
Symptoms and Common BehaviorsEach type of OCD may come with its own symptoms and behaviors. These mainly have to do with the root of anxiety and concern. For instance, some of the symptoms of OCD revolving around contamination can include excessive hand washing and avoiding social situations where they may encounter contamination.
However, while OCD symptoms and behaviors may vary, there are some that may be present in all types. This includes:
- Uncontrollable thoughts that can be distressing or disturbing
- Uncontrollable behaviors used to relieve the anxiety related to those thoughts
- Gradually increasing symptoms
- Double-check thoughts, behaviors, and actions
Treatment for OCD
Medication can be beneficial in treating the anxiety that comes with the cycle of obsessions and compulsions in OCD. This, as a result, can help alleviate the mental burden that OCD may place on individuals. Other types of medication that can be used include SSRIs, which increase the serotonin in the brain to produce natural feel-good effects, and antidepressants.
Some of the medications used in the treatment of OCD include:
- Clomipramine (Anafranil)
- Fluoxetine (Prozac)
- Paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva)
- Sertraline (Zoloft)
Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, is one of the most common forms of treatment for mental health disorders. This includes obsessive-compulsive disorder. Psychotherapy involves working alongside a licensed and professional therapist to better understand the root of symptoms and how to manage them.
There are several different types of psychotherapy. One of the most common is cognitive behavioral therapy, although it is not the only type. Different types of psychotherapy can be used to treat different aspects of OCD. Some types of psychotherapy can include:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Psychodynamic Therapy.
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
- Humanistic Therapy
Neurotherapy, also known as neurofeedback, is a unique type of therapy that is separate from psychotherapy or other types of treatment. Instead, it is a type of biofeedback, which involves watching how the body reacts and responds in real-time.
For neurotherapy, a medical provider will watch the electrical reactions happening in the brain. This allows them to gauge responses and reactions to certain things, helping to better understand OCD symptoms and how they impact the individual.
Neurotherapy can be a safe, non-pharmaceutical method of managing obsessive-compulsive disorder. It can help reduce the severity and intensity of symptoms while also working to help the individual better understand how they can manage their OCD symptoms independently.