Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) - Experience

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Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) facts

  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is one of a number of obsessive compulsive and related disorders that has irresistible ideas or images (obsessions) and/or specific rituals/behaviors (compulsions) that may be driven by obsessions as characteristics of the illness.
  • OCD occurs in a small percentage of populations worldwide in every culture and has been described in medicine for at least the past century.
  • The average age for OCD to begin is 19 years of age, and it usually begins by the time the individual is 30 years old.
  • People with OCD are at risk for also suffering from anxiety disorders.
  • While there is no known specific cause for OCD, having other family members with the condition and an imbalance of the brain chemical serotonin are thought to increase the likelihood of OCD occurring.
  • OCD is diagnosed by the health-care professional looking for signs and symptoms of this and other emotional problems, as well as assessing for the presence for a medical condition that might be a contributing to developing the disorder.
  • OCD has been found most likely to improve when treated with a combination of behavior therapies like exposure and ritual prevention, group or individual cognitive behavioral therapy, and medications.
  • Although not thought to be as effective in treating OCD as clomipramine (Anafranil), 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 does not produce adequate symptom relief, a neuroleptic medication may be added to improve the treatment outcome.
  • For some people with severe OCD, deep brain stimulation can be helpful, and treatment with hallucinogen medications continues to be studied.
  • Although the symptoms of OCD may last indefinitely, the prognosis for OCD sufferers is best when the person's symptoms are milder and have been present for a short time, and the OCD sufferer has no other emotional problems.
  • If left untreated, OCD can worsen to the point that the sufferer develops physical problems, becomes unable to function, or experiences suicidal thoughts. About 1% of OCD sufferers die by suicide.
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See what others are saying

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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Comment from: dachiemom, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: July 06

My obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) started at 9 years old and at 51 now it has gotten worse. I take 40 mg of Celexa once daily but it is not helping me at all. I twist my hair up into knots then pull it out. I am missing a section of hair on the side of my head and I also pick my skin badly and it usually is always on my face or arms and is very embarrassing. I want to stop this but I don't know how. It is ruining my life.

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