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Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a mental disorder where a patient experiences consistently strong thoughts (the obsessions), followed by an action (known as a compulsion.)

In order for someone to get an OCD diagnosis, the compulsions must happen for at least an hour a day, and it has to prevent or make it difficult for the person to function normally.

OCD Diagnosis

The majority of people with OCD get diagnosed before the age of 19, but there are cases where it occurs at all ages. When receiving a diagnosis, there are a few various tests a person may undergo.

The doctor may start with a physical exam and lab tests. This is generally to look for any other causes or problems, such as PANS. Then the process for diagnosing a disorder that is mental, not due to physical infection, is usually a psychological evaluation.

This can be done by a primary care doctor, or a patient may be referred to a psychologist or psychiatrist for formal diagnosis and to come up with a treatment plan.

In order to get the diagnosis, a person must experience obsessions, compulsions, or both that take up at least an hour of time or significantly interfere with functioning in another way.

Additionally, to be diagnosed with OCD, the obsessions and compulsions can not be the result of a different physical or mental condition. Once a person is diagnosed, they will probably undergo other tests to figure out the severity of the disorder.

The severity will help the doctor or other professionals to figure out what the best treatment plan is.This disorder used to be considered extremely rare, but now studies have shown that it is the fourth most common psychiatric disorder.

Ready to get help?

At Rehab 4 Addiction, we offer high-quality counselling & therapy services tailored to your individual needs.

To receive help with your OCD, call us today on 0800 140 4690.

Examples of Obsessions

Below we have listed some common behavioural patterns associated with people suffering from OCD.

If you have noticed some of these signs, and would like to approach an individual to discuss OCD treatment, call Rehab 4 Addiction today on 0800 140 4690 for guidance and support.

The signs can include:

  • A constant need for reassurance
  • Repetitive actions for a set number of times or in a set period of time
  • Compulsively avoid certain situations
  • An excessive need to pray or complete a different religious ritual

Physical & Behavioural Symptoms

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OCD is a serious cognitive disorder which can affect daily life from the minor to the extreme. Studies have shown that individuals living witih OCD often exhibit the following physical and mental symptoms:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Abnormal stress levels
  • Frustration
  • Paranoia
  • Sleep problems
  • Drug and alcohol abuse
  • Inability to focus
  • Low self-esteem
  • Increased or reduced appetite
  • Isolation
  • Failure to perform as well at school or work
  • Cannot complete day to day tasks

OCD Categories

The most common misconception of OCD is overly-hygienic obsessions, or tidying up objects around the house or workplace.

While these are common indications of obsessive-compulsive disorder, people with OCD generally fall into one of the following behavioural categories:

Washers

Washers’ fear or obsession is contamination and dirtiness. Their compulsion is usually some form of cleaning or hand-washing.

Checkers

Checkers associate certain things with danger or potential for harm, so they will check them repeatedly. Compulsions for checkers include things like checking that the oven is turned off over and over again, repeatedly making sure the door is locked, etc.

Doubters and Sinners

Doubters and sinners are afraid of their own imperfections. They usually believe that if they make a mistake, something bad will happen, or they will be punished. For this reason, they spend a lot of time trying to ensure tasks are done perfectly.

Counters and Arrangers

Counters and arrangers want order and symmetry. They may be very specific or superstitious about numbers, colours, or how their things are arranged.

Hoarders

Hoarders are afraid that if they get rid of something or throw it away, something bad will happen. For this reason, they compulsively hold on to lots and lots of stuff that they do not need.

Behavioural Treatments For OCD

At Rehab 4 Addiction, we offer many treatments and therapies to help deal with obsessive-couplsive disorders. Call us today on 0800 140 4690 for specialist advice and guidance.

Below we have listed the most popular forms of therapies for you to consider:

1. Imaginal Exposure

Imaginal exposure is good for people who are not ready to be placed in a real-world situation with their trigger.

Instead of actually placing the patient in the situation, the therapist will have the patient repeatedly visualise themselves in the situation. Eventually, anxiety should decrease, and they will be ready to try exposure therapy.

2. Habit Reversal Training

Habit reversal training involves a person focusing on what sensations they feel or what his happening when they do a certain tic or complete a certain habit.

Once they learn the signs and more about the compulsion, they will begin to work on how to stop practicing the habit by replacing it with something new.

3.  Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

CBT is one of the most successful treatments for OCD. Cognitive-behavioral therapy or CBT is a form of talk therapy.

During the sessions, a patient can learn about their disease as well as learn certain coping mechanisms. For people with OCD, one of the most successful parts of CBT is what is known as exposure therapy.

During exposure therapy, a professional will slowly expose a patient to their trigger event or situation a little bit at time to help them learn to control their response.

What are the Causes of OCD?

OCD is a pattern or learned behaviour which the individual has found alleviates the intensity of stress or anxiety relating to a certain action, event, or object.

While the scientific cause of OCD is still undiscovered, there are many theories surrounding the psychological reasons behind OCD. These include:

The root of OCD is generally considered to be neurological. That means, the brains of people with OCD actually function differently than those who do not have the disorder.

However, researchers have not figured out what the exact neurological causes are. There are differences in specific areas of the brain, and it is believed that imbalances in chemicals (neurotransmitters) such as serotonin and glutamate may be related.

OCD, just like many other psychological disorders, can be seen throughout families. If someone has a family member with the disorder, they are at significantly higher risk for developing the disorder themselves [2].

While there is a clear genetic correlation, researchers have not yet identified any specific genes related to the disorder.

When OCD comes on quickly and suddenly in children, it may be due to an infection (group A streptococcal infection) of other bacteria such as Lyme disease and H1N1.

These infections can cause inflammation to the basal ganglia and result in Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome, also known as PANS. While this is not technically OCD, the symptoms are very similar.

In some cases, OCD can develop due to a behavioral connection a person has made. Someone may connect a certain object or event with fear and then a certain action with minimizing that fear. When that connection has been made and reinforced, obsessions and compulsions can begin to take root in the person.

Other theorists believe that the OCD is due to misinterpretation of a thought. Everyone has intrusive or negative thoughts, but someone with OCD can not control the thought to push it away, so they end up have compulsive behaviors to try and control it.

Other Forms of Treatment

The severity and impact one’s obsessive-compulsive behaviour has on everyday life varies from person to person. While some individuals learn to manage and cope with their compulsions or obsessions, others require more guidance and support in tackling and overcoming these habits.

Below, we have listed the most popular forms of treatment for OCD which are available at Rehab 4 Addiction:

Day programs do not require a patient to stay overnight, but it does involve them going to treatment centers for at least several hours a day several times a week.

During this time, they can get more intensive therapy in various forms, including both individual and group sessions. The goal of day programs is to help a patient learn how to cope with their disorder.

Partial hospitalization is very similar to the day programs as a patient will come to the hospital for a chunk of time, usually during the day, to receive support in various settings and forms.

The difference is the setting. Partial hospitalization takes place in a hospital of some sort, while day programs are at a clinic or different type of treatment center.

Residential treatment is when a patient is living in a care facility voluntarily, and it is unlocked. This means that they usually checked themselves in and can check themselves out at any time if they want.

Residential treatment can take place at a hospital or a different treatment center, but it allows the patient to have 24/7 access to care and support while they learn to cope with their disorder.

Inpatient therapy is when a patient needs intensive enough therapy that they can not just leave whenever they want; the facility is locked. A patient may voluntarily check themselves into inpatient therapy, or someone else may check them in.

People in inpatient therapy generally can not care for themselves or are a danger to themselves or others. The goal of inpatient therapy is to stabilize a patient and transition them to a lower level of care, such as residential, partial hospitalization or day programs.

More Invasive Treatments

The following forms of therapy are generally last resort but can work for people who do not respond to more traditional forms of treatment like medication and therapy.

1. Brain Stimulation

Deep brain stimulation is still being researched, but there is evidence that it can help people whose symptoms worsen despite other forms of treatment.

During brain stimulation, electrodes are implanted into the brain and connected to a small electrical generator in the chest. The electricity can help regulate the transmission of signals in the brain.

2. Electroconvulsive Therapy

Electroconvulsive Therapy is the process of sending electrical pulses into the brain to trigger seizures. Doing so can help reduce a person’s symptoms to a point where they are able to manage/cope with it.

3. Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

This is a noninvasive treatment where certain areas of a person’s brain are targeted with electromagnetic currents. After several sessions, many people have shown to get relief from the symptoms associated with OCD.

OCD can be a scary disorder to have to deal with, so if you or someone close to you are experiencing symptoms associated with it, it is important to reach out and get treatment.

It is possible to manage the symptoms and live a life not controlled by the disorder.

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