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  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a disorder characterized by recurrent obsessive, unwanted thoughts that cause anxiety or distress and often lead to repetitive actions to relieve anxiety. Although included among the types of anxiety-related disorder, it involves certain peculiarities worth specifically addressing.

    As its name suggests, obsessions and compulsions interfere with mental processes. Obsessions are thoughts, images or impulses that are recurrent and persistent and uncontrollably invade the individual’s mind, despite being often recognized as absurd or exaggerated, and cause significant distress or anxiety.

    In response to these obsessions, the individual incurs rituals or compulsions, which are repetitive behaviors, often stereotypically performed, in order to end the anxiety that was created. An example of this disorder is the obsession with hygiene, inciting compulsive hand washing.

    Although the exact cause of OCD is unknown, there may be genetic, educational or personality type factors that contribute to a greater predisposition to this disease.

    Today there are very effective treatments for this disorder, which also forms a part of a field that is still being actively investigated in order to find new treatments to help even more in recovery.

  • They are frequent rituals such as repeatedly checking to see if a stove is off before leaving home or even mental rituals (such as going over what you’ve done). But an individual can be considered to have an obsessive compulsive disorder when these rituals are such that they interfere with daily life and doing them is not normal. A person has OCD when he or she:

    • Has thoughts, impulses or images that appellants cannot control and that cause considerable anxiety.
    • These thoughts are based on situations that are not a concern under normal conditions and do not represent a real danger.
    • Tries to answer these impulses with repetitive actions, whether physical (such as ordering) or mental (such as counting) that they feel compelled to repeat the stereotyped actions.
    • These compulsions do not give pleasure, but merely momentary relief from the anxiety that they cause.
    • Often the individual himself or herself accepts that these actions are irrational, but needs to continue making them.
    • These actions, in addition to interfering with the individual’s daily routine, constitute a significant waste of time because it may involve more than one hour a day.

    Finally, it is necessary to rule out that these symptoms are not the result of taking medication, drugs or any other condition before making a diagnosis.

  • There are many types, depending on the subject within the obsessive compulsive disorder. The most common are:

    • Questions and checks: They review the same issue concurrently for fear of having an accident, especially in the home, for example checking that a tap is closed, or repeatedly going over the actions they have done.
    • Contamination and Cleaning: are pursued by sensations of lack of hygiene or possible contamination that make them wash their hands repeatedly or clean objects or areas in order to avoid germs.
    • Order and symmetry: They feel the need for everything around them is organized according to their own very rigid patterns, often including symmetric distributions. In other cases obsessions can be related to numbers, or counting operations.
    • Accumulation: They keep objects that they are unable to discard despite knowing that they are useless or insignificant. This sometimes also involves creating collections that must be strictly followed.
    • Forbidden thoughts: They have unwanted thoughts related to the possibility of hurting someone, unwelcomed sexual behavior or acts against their moral or religious beliefs.
    • Superstitions: The person has to perform certain behaviors (eg, playing something a certain number of times, performing actions in a certain order, having specific thoughts when doing a specifc activity) in order to avoid any negative consequences that might occur, even if the person recognizes that it is absurd.
    • Other: Other obsessions may be related to repetitive thoughts about illness, health, food, physical aspects of the person, or meaningless repetitive behaviors.

    We should also mention obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, which does not imply a particular obsession or compulsion, but a permanent concern for order, control, detail and perfection. Although it is advisable to address such cases, treatment is required if it impedes a person from a normal leading a normal daily life.

  • Obsessive compulsive disorder is a clearly defined disease for which there are specialized and highly effective therapies. In most cases, the best way to cope is by combining the psychotherapeutic help of a professional and especially effective medication for these disorders.

    Psychotherapy for this disorder is often based on what is called exposure therapy and response prevention, in which the person is put into the situations that cause fear in a safe environment in order to understand that they pose no threat. A complementary approach is to try to instill different ways of thinking, to show that there are other ways to do the same thing, and therefore no reason to get anxious if the compulsion is not activated.

    With regard to medication for obsessive-compulsive disorder, specific antidepressant drugs are used individually according to each case, which are helpful in most cases, reducing the intensity of obsessions and compulsions in addition to fueling a quicker recovery.

    Normally these are drugs which act on the serotonin system, which is the neurotransmitter serotonin, a chemical in the brain involved in many mental processes. Studies have shown that drugs that affect the serotonergic system have been effective in treating OCD.

    If professional treatment is administered properly, combining both psychotherapy and medication, obsessive compulsive disorder can be overcome. In Centre Medic BM we have a team of professionals with extensive experience in treating these disorders and ongoing research that will help you overcome it.

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