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OCD, or obsessive-compulsive disorder, is a type of mental illness that affects how people act in their lives. OCD, along with many other mental illnesses, harms directly and indirectly with no chance of ever disappearing. The disorder refers to people being stuck in a loop of obsessions and compulsions during their lifetime, even if one wants to break out. The simplest explanation of OCD is that folks diagnosed with the disorder will commit themselves to repetitious tasks, being compulsions, due to overwhelming thoughts, being obsessions, as described in the Merck Manual (Phillips and Stein 2018).
OCD is a common mental disorder, affecting millions of people per year, e.g. about two percent of the U.S. population alone. The disorder can be diagnosed at any age, the earliest being during childhood. According to the obsessive-compulsive disorder article on Merck Manuals, the average age in which symptoms of OCD will arise is typically 19 or 20 years old and occurs in males and females equally (Philips and Stein 2018). The obsessions and compulsions would typically worsen over time more often than not. Uncommonly, they would fade away and reappear, albeit random. They can also naturally be eased when an appropriate amount of time passes by but is unlikely. Unfortunately, those affected would attempt to hide their disorder out of embarrassment, creating a large gap between them and the need for help.
OCD has two primary components that classify as a mental disorder: obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are thoughts, visual imagery, and feelings that are undesired by the individual. Naturally, in most cases, these obsessions stem from feelings of paranoia and anxiety, such as whether or not you’ve locked the door when you’re outside your house. Other obsessions can be traced from feelings such as aggressiveness and danger like seeing potential hazards. These thoughts would escalate to higher degrees until they become excessive and begin to directly affect their personal health (Canadian Journal of Psychiatry 2006). As such, people try to counter these horrid feelings by doing the task necessary to ease themselves, with them being referred to as compulsions. Compulsions are these repetitive tasks that are at first, normal. An example of this would be to clean up the kitchen counter when it’s stained. However, the tasks become more prioritized over time and irrational, e.g. wiping a recently cleaned counter. As a consequence, their personal lives are being neglected in order to be relieved. The mental process of these two components will continue in a cycle, obsessions leading to compulsions and then back to obsessions and so forth, further adding damage to their health physically and mentally.
OCD isn’t always a standalone disorder when diagnosed with it. Studies have shown that OCD is simultaneously identified with other disorder types such as anxiety, bipolar, and OCPD, obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, which is similar but is focused on perfection and control instead (Philips and Stein 2018). Symptoms that are commonly associated with the illness include: uncontrollable behavior and mood, spending too much time countering the behavior, neglectfulness of one’s health, and lack of relief. This can indirectly affect others, such as family and friends, by distressing them or being easily angered. These symptoms and effects are the results of normal OCD characteristics such as counting items and having thoughts of anxiety. The intensity of the symptoms increases by a large margin with other mental illnesses, creating a more harmful case of OCD to treat.
There is no definite cause of how obsessive-compulsive disorder came to be, but there are certain factors that would influence the chances of being diagnosed with the illness. One of the factors involve genetics and the implications are that OCD is inherited from parent to child. Genes do play a role, but the contribution is small and the relationship between genes and OCD still remain unknown. Scientists have suggested that illness or stress may activate these genes, but they require more investigation (Fornaro et al. 2008). Another factor is the environment, most notably getting a bacterial infection. The infection causes PANDAS or pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorder associated with Streptococcal infection (Moretti et al. 2008). This would result in OCD due to changes in neurological conditions immediately after symptoms of fever and strep throat (NIMH 2018). The infection shows signs of oncoming symptoms that affected individuals have and the various common habits associated. PANDAS would occur usually in children and rare in adult cases. Brain function also plays a part in the development of OCD.
There is no definitive cure for OCD, but there are methods in treating the disorder for more voluntary control over one’s life. The most prevalent treatment for the illness is medication, commonly antidepressants. The most commonly used type is called a selective serotonin inhibitor reuptake, or SSRI, in which they are used to undermine the symptoms (Coryell 2018). SRIs and SSRIs work by increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain, a chemical that connects to neurotransmitters, which can be described as receptors. Serotonin is commonly associated with mood and how it relates is that SSRIs block specific neurotransmitters, hence inhibiting. This would allow the amount of serotonin to build up before locking on to the receptors again, hence reuptake. When diagnosed with OCD, there would lower levels of serotonin because of poor mood. SSRIs act as a solution, but short-term. People would also take therapy as another way to treat them and is considered to be just as effective as taking various medication (NIMH 2018).
OCD is a disorder that requires more research and investigation into why it happened. Modern medicine helped those who are affected bear the negative consequences, but in the long-term, the disorder will not fade away, as it’s only kept down at a minimum. Advances in psychiatry and medicine can perhaps make the path for professionals to further understand more and its effects on people. There are still unsolved mysteries that are associated with the illness and it would be only a matter of time for professionals to uncover the answers. Mental health as a whole is critical to keep stable, thus it is important to receive an early diagnosis and treatment to help unfortunate people that will need as much help as they can get.

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