List of Illnesses

OCD

Introduction

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a type of anxiety disorders that causes repeated unwanted thoughts. To get rid of the thoughts, a person does the same tasks over and over.

Overview and Facts

For many people, OCD starts during childhood or the teen years. One-third of adults with OCD develop symptoms as children, and research indicates that OCD might run in families.

Symptoms

Symptoms of the disorder include:
  • Obsessions. These are unwanted thoughts, ideas, and impulses that you have again and again.
  • Compulsions. These are behaviors that you repeat to try to control the obsessions.

The obsessions or compulsions usually take up a lot of time-more than 1 hour a day. They greatly interfere with your normal routine at work or school, and they affect social activities and relationships.

Consult a doctor if:
  • You feel like you have obsessions or compulsions and they are interfering with your work, relationships or other parts of your life
  • You feel depressed, have trouble with alcohol or drug use, or have other mental health concerns along with anxiety
  • You have suicidal thoughts or behaviors

Your worries may not go away on their own, and they may actually get worse over time if you don't seek help. See your doctor or a mental health provider before your problem gets worse. It may be easier to treat if you address it early.

Causes and Risk Factors

Experts do not know the exact cause of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Research suggests that there may be a problem with the way one part of the brain sends information to another part. Not having enough of a brain chemical called serotonin may help cause the problem.

Some experts believe that a problem related to infections, such as strep throat or scarlet fever, can suddenly bring on the disorder or make its symptoms worse in some children.

Tests and Diagnosis

To diagnose OCD, a person should consult a mental health professional who will rely on scientific criteria to check whether he/she has OCD. Your doctor can check for obsessive-compulsive disorder by asking about your symptoms and your past health. He or she may also do a physical exam. It’s important to talk to your doctor if you think you have OCD. Many people with the disorder go without treatment because they are afraid or embarrassed to talk to a doctor.

Treatment

The main treatments for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) are:
  • Psychotherapy and counseling for the disorder includes a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy called exposure and response prevention. This therapy slowly increases your contact with the thing that causes worries or false beliefs.
  • Medications such as antidepressant medicines called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are most commonly used
  • Combination of psychotherapy and medication

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