OCD: Do You Have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

Do you count how many green cars you pass on the way to work? Are you constantly concerned whether you left the stove on when you leave your home and go back to check several times? Is it important to continually wash your hands? If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these you may be suffering from OCD, obsessive compulsive disorder.

OCD Definition

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, obsessive compulsive disorder is “an anxiety disorder in which people have unwanted and repeated thoughts, feelings, ideas, sensations (obsessions), or behaviors that make them feel driven to do something (compulsions).”

Who is Affected?

Many people display symptoms of OCD but are able to carry on with their normal, everyday lives. They may have to count their steps, ritually wash their hands or take the exact same route to work every day without ever telling anyone. It is those that become consumed by the urge to constantly complete such compulsively repetitive behavior that it ends up taking over their daily existence. When this happens, there may be a problem. If such behavior is unable to be completed, it can throw off a person both mentally and physically.  It can strain relationships as well as careers creating the stress that would otherwise be quelled if able to resume OCD behavior. Most people who are affected by OCD are over thirty years of age however it can slowly manifest in childhood and adolescence but easily be masked due to the young age of those afflicted. It is not until adulthood, when someone is living on their own, that it becomes more noticeable. Approximately 3.3 million adults and about 1 million children and adolescents are afflicted in the United States.

Symptoms

In addition to the OCD symptoms mentioned above others that may be displayed include: fear of germs, need for order, symmetry or exactness, fear of evil thoughts, refusing to touch doorknobs or shake hands, repeatedly checking locks, being stuck on images, thoughts or words and collecting or hoarding various items.

Causes

There are no known medical causes of OCD however theories include: illness, abuse, a cataclysmic event such as a death of a loved one; environmental factors such as exposure to toxins, a brain chemical imbalance or a high stress situation.

Treatment

If you got up to check the stove five times while reading this, you may need treatment for OCD. Treatment can be administered using a western medical approach such as a specific drug protocol known as SSRI’s (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) such as Prozac, Zoloft or Paxil. There is also cognitive behavior therapy which teaches how to handle fears, phobias and exaggerated thinking as well as naturopathic remedies such as acupuncture, homeopathy, botanical medicine, clinical nutrition and detoxification.

If you think you suffer from OCD visit your medical or naturopathic doctor. Choosing to break such a cycle could surprisingly enhance the quality of your life that you would otherwise be unaware of if you did not take the first step.


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