Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) - Experience

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Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) facts

  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by irresistible thoughts or images (obsessions) and/or rigid rituals/behaviors that may be driven by obsessions (compulsions).
  • OCD occurs in about 2% of populations worldwide across cultures and has been known to the field of medicine for at least 100 years.
  • The average age of onset of OCD is 19 years of age, and it usually begins by 30 years of age.
  • OCD sufferers are more likely than those who do not have the disorder to also suffer from other anxiety disorders.
  • While there is no known specific cause for OCD, the presence of the illness in other family members and an imbalance of the brain chemical serotonin are thought to increase the likelihood of OCD developing.
  • OCD is diagnosed by the practitioner looking for signs and symptoms of this and other emotional problems, as well as ensuring that there is no medical condition that could be contributing to development of OCD.
  • OCD tends to respond most to a combination of behavior therapies (exposure and ritual prevention), group or individual cognitive behavioral therapy, and medications.
  • Although not as effective in treating OCD as clomipramine, SSRIs are the group of medications that are most often used to treat this illness since the SSRIs tend to cause fewer side effects.
  • SSRIs are thought to work by increasing the activity of serotonin in the brain.
  • When the combination of psychotherapy and SSRI treatment is not sufficiently effective, neuroleptic medications may be added to improve the treatment outcome.
  • For some people with severe OCD symptoms, deep brain stimulation can be helpful, and the use of hallucinogen medication as a treatment modality continues to be researched.
  • Although the symptoms of OCD may last indefinitely, its prognosis is best when the sufferer has milder symptoms that have been present for a short time, and the person has no other emotional problems.
  • Without treatment, OCD can worsen to the point that the sufferer has physical problems, becomes emotionally unable to function, or experiences suicidal thoughts. About 1% of OCD sufferers complete suicide.
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See what others are saying

Comment from: rubyred24, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: November 07

When I was younger I had rituals and things I had to do. Everything has to be even (volume on a radio or TV, temperature, letters in a sentence) I had to touch everything I ate to my lips first. My teachers would call my parents often for disrupting classes. When I was older I noticed things were better when I was drinking or on drugs. I spent 10 years in addiction and alcoholism. I have been sober/clean for 16 months and it is back and worse than ever. I have to touch everything with my pointer finger last (I have some fear that if my middle finger is the last things that touches something that's bad so I have to touch it again with my pointer finger). I check locks, alarms, ovens and timers over and over. Nighttime and in bed is the worst. I'll be exhausted but get out of bed 20 times or more to check things or try to go to the bathroom when I've already been 2 minutes earlier. If my right leg itches I have to scratch my left too and then my right again because it itched first. I have Bonne Bell Lip Smackers chap stick in every room in my house, car and, office. I have to put it on every 30 minutes. They stopped selling that type of chap stick so I have to order in bulk online. I replay past situations or have fear of future ones nonstop until I end up in a panic attack or tears. I love being sober and clean but I can't sleep unless I'm drugged and it feels hopeless.

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Comment from: theweechicken, 19-24 Female (Patient) Published: February 24

I have had obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) for a very long time, and never really realized that the people around me never thought like I did. I used to wash my hands until they would bleed from being so dry. I had to wash them every time I touched a door, thinking about all the other people who had touched that same door. That subsided as I grew older, but I still wash my hands every night before I go to sleep, and I have to make sure every drawer and door are shut in my room. My hands have to be moisturized and my rings have to face the correct way. I have intrusive thoughts that don't feel like they're mine as well. If a stupid, worrisome or scary thought crosses through my mind I will harbor it for months. It's awful. That thought will be in the back of my mind 24/7 until I find a solution or some resolution. It's like being in a battle with your own mind all the time. OCD never stops. I would love to know other people's experiences with using Zoloft and Prozac. They tried to put me on Prozac when I was at a near suicidal point and I refused, but now that I am at a somewhat rational thinking level, I think it may be up for some consideration.

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