How to Deal with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) | obsessive compulsive anxiety


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How to Deal with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder OCD
 If left untreated, OCD can hamper one’s social, occupational and daily functioning.

When was the last time you jokingly referred to a friend’s repetitive habit as an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)? While they may (or may not) actually suffer from the problem, experts are shocked that many people have started using the term casually. They say that it ridicules those who genuinely suffer from OCD, which is a serious disorder.

What is it?
OCD is an anxiety disorder in which an individual suffers from unwanted repetitive thoughts and behaviour. Says psychiatrist Dr Samir Parikh, “OCD is a clinical psychiatric condition where an individual experiences obsessions — repetitive, intrusive thoughts, ideas or images — which he is unable to stop or control. Individuals with OCD also display certain repetitive actions or behaviours, aimed at reducing the anxiety which he is experiencing at the time.”

“It occurs in a spectrum from mild to severe. If left untreated in severe cases, it can destroy a person’s capacity to function at work, school, or even home,” adds Hingorrany.

How serious is it?
A person with OCD has obsessive and compulsive behaviours that are extreme enough to interfere with daily life. “People with OCD shouldn’t be confused with a much larger group of individuals who are sometimes called ‘compulsive’. Such people are perfectionists who are very organised in their work, even in recreational activities. In that respect, it differs from the lifewrecking obsessions and habits of a person with OCD. When obsessions, compulsions and perfectionist behaviour take up excessive time and significantly interfere with your daily life and relationships, it is time to seek help. Left untreated, it can hamper one’s social, occupational and daily functioning,” says clinical psychologist Seema Hingorrany.

Symptoms

 

  • Worrying constantly about having dirty hands or clothes, or about catching or spreading germs. In some cases, the fear of contamination extends to sexual activity. 
  • Worrying constantly that the front door is not locked, the oven is not turned off or a cigarette has not been snuffed out completely. 
  • An obsessive need for order and precision. 
  • Anxiety if even the smallest detail is missing. 

Treatment
OCD is primarily treated with medicines that help reduce excessive thought processes and enable an individual to reduce compulsive habits. “Psychotherapy is also frequently used. Another popular treatment method is Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. It is imperative to consult a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist to determine the right course of treatment,” says Dr Parikh.

Hingorrany suggests a combination of medication and psychotherapy for best results. “A specific therapy approach called EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing) is effective for many people with OCD. For the treatment to be successful, the therapist should be fully trained. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy helps one overcome faulty beliefs — such as fear of contamination — which lead to OCD. Families can learn specific ways to encourage a person with OCD, to adhere to behaviour therapy and/or pharmacotherapy programme.

Family therapy and support groups are also equally helpful,” she adds.

How to deal with an OCD patient
Experts say being exceptionally calm and patient are important. If you know someone who is suffering from OCD, offer support and understand what the disorder is all about. Realise that a patient isn’t doing anything deliberately — it is a clinical disorder.

Occurence in India
“OCD is a common psychiatric disorder across the world, among both children and adults,” says Dr Parikh.

“It is very common here. I attend to at least 30 such cases a month. With the right intervention, it can be treated,” adds Hingorrany.

Common OCDs

  • Repeatedly washing hands or bathing. 
  • Repeating routine actions until it feels just right. 
  • Excessive checking of locks, stoves, light switches, etc. 
  • Repeatedly making lists, counting, arranging, or aligning things. 
  • Collecting and hoarding useless objects. 
  • Unnecessary re-reading and rewriting or excessive praying and performing rituals. 
  • Trichotillomania — the repeated urge to pull out scalp hair, eyelashes, eyebrows or other body hair. 
  • Body Dysmorphic Disorder — imagining exaggerated defects in appearance. 
  • Eating disorders, such as bulimia or anorexia nervosa. 
  • Hypochondriasis — unfounded fear of having a serious disease. 
  • Substance abuse. 

Images courtesy: © Thinkstock photos/ Getty Images  
Author: Zeenia Baria 



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