December 1, 2015
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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

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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 a small percentage 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.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/21/2014


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