Study: Psychologists Placing Nail-Biting In ‘Obsessive Compulsive’ Category

WASHINGTON (CBS WASHINGTON) – New psychological testing places nail biting in the pathological grooming category of, “obsessive compulsive disorder.”

The American Psychiatric Association, in a new study published in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, is rethinking how “pathological groomers” – aka nail biters – should feel about themselves.

In testimony from an afflicted nail-biter, National Public Radio spells out some of the personal anxieties that one nail-biter felt during their 30 years of the habit.

“I can tell you the exact moment I became a nail biter. I was 6 years old, watching my mom get dressed for work,” Amy Standen told NPR. My reaction: How cool! How grown-up! I think I’ll try it.”

Recently, something happened that made me finally quit biting my nails. I’ll get to that in a bit. But I was feeling quite pleased with myself when I showed them to Carol Mathews, a psychiatrist at the University of California, San Francisco. “Your cuticles are pushed back. It’s not bad. Looks like you’re a recovered nail biter is what I’d say,” she pointed out.

Until recently, the DSM treated pathological grooming a bit like an afterthought and put it in a catch-all category called “not otherwise classified.” But the new DSM proposes to lump together pathological groomers and those with mental disorders like OCD. That includes people who wash their hands compulsively or have to line up their shoes a certain way.

The behaviors have much in common. In both cases, it’s taking a behavior that’s normal and healthy and putting it into overdrive, doing it to the point of being excessive. But in at least one way, OCD and pathological grooming are also very different.

But from her pathological grooming patients, Mathews hears a very different story: They enjoy it. “It’s rewarding. It feels good. When you get the right nail, it feels good. It’s kind of a funny sense of reward, but it’s a reward,” she told NPR.

There are some genetic mutations that seem to crop up in people with OCD and in people who groom pathologically. But just because you have the mutation doesn’t mean the behavior is inevitable.

“With OCD, it’s more likely you won’t, says Mathews. “As genetically determined as OCD is, the risk to a family member for someone who has OCD is only 20 percent. So it’s 80 percent chance of not getting it,” she says.

 Study: Psychologists Placing Nail Biting In Obsessive Compulsive Category

Nail Biting May Be a Sign of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

For many, biting your nails may seem like just an ugly habit. Recently, psychiatrists are changing the way we will view nail biters. By next year the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) will classify nail biting as an obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

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A harmless habit such as nail biting can become hazardous to one’s health. According to the Mayo Clinic, nail biting is not only bad hygiene, but also can contribute to skin infections, increase the risks of colds and other infections as well as spread germs from the nails and fingers.

Obsessive compulsive disorder is a variety of anxiety disorder. OCD traps individuals in an endless cycle of repetitive thoughts and behavior. Many who suffer from OCD are plagued by habitual, stressful thoughts and fears that are hard to control. This then forces a need to perform certain rituals or routines as a means to maintain one’s calm over the situation.

For an obsessive nail biter, the behavior is triggered by not the nail itself but outside factors such as driving or feeling stressed out.

In previous yearsm the DSM categorized nail biting as “not otherwise classified.”

However that will change starting next year. Individuals, who habitually bite their nails, compulsively wash their hands or line their shoes up a particular way, will be informed they may suffer from OCD.

The Mayo Clinic suggests if you’re concerned about nail biting; consult your doctor or a mental health provider. To stop you from nail biting, you might try:

  • Avoiding factors that trigger nail biting, such as boredom
  • Finding healthy ways to manage stress and anxiety
  • Keeping your nails neatly trimmed or manicured
  • Occupying your hands or mouth with alternate activities, such as playing a musical instrument or chewing gum

 

For more serious cases, behavior therapy may be necessary.

Published by Medicaldaily.com

 

 

 

Medication now used to treat pet’s behavioral disorders

by Tori Hamby

With so many behavioral treatments for pets – from dog whisperers to medication and expensive training programs – exasperated owners might have difficulty sifting through their options.

Like humans, pets can suffer from a variety of mental disorders that cause behavioral problems, veterinarians say. These disorders – including obsessive compulsive and anxiety disorders, and even Alzheimer’s disease – can show themselves in a pet’s predilection to tear up the house when left alone, tendency to urinate when panicked, aggression or other destructive behaviors.

“Pretty much anything you see in human behavior, we have on the animal side as well,” said Mike Heinen, owner of Lake Norman Animal Hospital in Mooresville.

Alycen Adams, a veterinarian at Carolinas Veterinary Care Clinic in Huntersville, said symptoms of OCD in pets include walking in circles to the point where paws become bloody and, in cats, excessive grooming. OCD is also common in birds, which pick at their feathers as a result.

Dogs that have traditionally been bred to perform jobs – such as Golden Shepherds and Border Collies – often have an overabundance of energy, which can manifest itself as anxiety, Adams said. When left home alone that anxiety can trigger destructive behavior.

“It’s like a high energy person with nothing to do,” Adams said. “They are going to cause mischief.”

Separation anxiety is also especially pronounced in dogs, Adams said, who have poor concepts of time. The sound of an owner’s key jingling at the door, for instance, can trick a dog into thinking their owners will be gone forever.

Medication options

The most effective behavior modification regimens, he said, combine medication and behavioral therapy. Pets can use medication to improve their coping skills, increasing the chances that non-medical treatment – such as reinforcing positive behavior through treats or attention – will stick.

“We can use medicine to break the pattern and help the animal realize ‘hey, I can cope with this; it isn’t so bad,’” Heinen said. “Then we get them over that small phobia.”

“A cat who has had a urinary tract infection can develop a fear of its litter box because of the pain it associates with it,” Adams said. “(Medicine) can ease that aversion.”

There are also drug treatments available for short-term anxiety-induced behaviors caused by thunderstorms or loud noises. Alprazolam and diazepam, known to humans as Xanax and Valium, can be administered temporarily.

Owners can give their pets a dose of these drugs about 24 hours before a thunderstorm is predicted to hit or Fourth of July fireworks go off in the pet’s surrounding neighborhood.

“These pet aren’t lying in the corner drooling like a vegetable when they are on these medications,” Adams said.

Other alternatives

Just as a number of natural treatments are available to humans for stress, anxiety or depression, pets may also benefit from these remedies. The scent of lavender, a flower known for its calming affects on humans, can sooth an anxious pet, Heinen said.

Facial pheromones are available for cats in sprays or plug-in diffuser devices. These chemicals are synthetic versions of naturally occurring familiarization pheromones used to mark objects in its surroundings as familiar.

“They make animals feel like they have their own little baby blankets,” Heinen said.

To prepare dogs for thunderstorms, owners can play sounds of thunder, wind and rain at low volumes to acclimate pets to startling noises, Adams said. Owners can gradually turn the volume up until the dog no longer becomes anxious during storms.

Owners can also buy a Thundershirt online at www.thundershirt.com. The gentle pressure of the snug fitting doggie jacket provides dogs with a sense of security.

“We have some owners who swear by it, and others who say it doesn’t really make a difference,” Adams said. “A dogs reaction to things like the Thundershirt and pheromones really depends on the sensitivity of the dog and the severity of the problem.”

A warning

While pet variations of some behavioral medicines, such as Prozac, Xanax or Valium are identical to the medications a human night take, Heinen said owners should never give their pets medicine prescribed to humans. Dosage amounts and idiosyncratic properties of different drugs could have adverse affects on pets.

“A pinch of Tylenol will kill a cat,” Heinen said. “You need the right drug and the right diagnosis.”

Is anorexia a cultural disease?

From the outside, my eating disorder looked a lot like vanity run amok. It looked like a diet or an obsession with the size of my thighs. I spewed self- and body-hatred to friends and family for well over a decade. Anorexia may have looked like a disorder brought about by the fashion industry, by a desire to be thin and model-perfect that got out of hand.

Except that it wasn’t. I wasn’t being vain when I craned my neck trying to check out my butt in the mirror — I truly had no idea what size I was anymore. I was so afraid of calories that I refused to use lip balm and, at one point, was unable to drink water. I was terrified of gaining weight, but I couldn’t explain why.

As I lay in yet another hospital bed hooked up to yet another set of IVs and heart monitors, the idea of eating disorders as a cultural disorder struck me as utterly ludicrous. I didn’t read fashion magazines, and altering my appearance wasn’t what drove me to start restricting my food intake. I just wanted to feel better; I thought cutting out snacks might be a good way to make that happen. The more I read, the more I came to understand that culture is only a small part of an eating disorder. Much of my eating disorder, I learned, was driven by my own history of anxiety and depression, by my tendency to focus on the details at the expense of the big picture, and by hunger circuits gone awry.

The overwhelming amount of misinformation about eating disorders — what they are and what causes them — drove me to write my latest book, “Decoding Anorexia: How Breakthroughs in Science Offer Hope for Eating Disorders.”

Efforts to fight eating disorders still target cultural phenomena, especially images of overly thin, digitally altered models. Last month, the Academy for Eating Disorders and the Binge Eating Disorders Association issued a press release condemning the high-end department store Barneys for giving beloved Disney characters a makeover. Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck were stretched like taffy to appear emaciated in honor of Barneys’ holiday ad campaign. The eating disorders groups wrote:

Viewership of such images is associated with low self-esteem and body dissatisfaction in young girls and women, placing them at risk for development of body image disturbances and eating disorders. These conditions can have devastating psychological as well as medical consequences. This campaign runs counter to efforts across the globe to improve both the health of runway models and the representation of body image by the fashion industry.

All of which is technically true. But when you look at the research literature, several studies indicate that environmental factors such as emaciated models are actually a minor factor in what puts people at risk of an eating disorder. A 2000 study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry found that about 60 percent (and up to 85 percent) of a person’s risk for developing anorexia was due to genetics. A 2006 follow-up study in the Archives of General Psychiatry found that only 5 percent of a person’s risk of developing anorexia came from shared environmental factors like models and magazine culture. A far greater environmental risk (which the study estimated constituted 35 percent of someone’s risk of anorexia) came from what researchers call non-shared environmental factors, which are unique to each individual, such as being bullied on the playground or being infected with a bacterium like Streptococcus. (Several very small studies have linked the sudden onset of anorexia and obsessive-compulsive symptoms to an autoimmune reaction to strep infections.)

Eating disorders existed long before the advent of supermodels. Researchers believe the “starving saints” of the Middle Ages, like Catherine of Siena, had anorexia. Reports from ancient history indicate that wealthy Romans would force themselves to vomit during feasts, to make room in their stomachs for yet another course. In modern times, anorexia has been reported in rural Africa and in Amish and Mennonite communities, none of which are inundated with images of overly thin women. Nor does culture explain the fact that all Americans are bombarded with these images but only a very tiny portion ever develop a clinical eating disorder.

Frankly, I think the Barney’s creation of Skinny Minnie and her newly svelte compatriots is ridiculous. They look absurd and freakish. I think we should be aware of and speak out against the thin body ideal, the sexualization of children, and the use of digitally altered images in advertising. I think we should do this regardless of the link to eating disorders. My objection to the AED and BEDA’s response is that it reinforces an “I wanna look like a model” model for how we think of eating disorders. It implies that eating disorders are seen as issues for white, upper-class women, which means that these life-threatening disorders often go undetected and untreated in men, the poor, and minorities.

How sufferers, their families, and our culture at large think about eating disorders sets the agenda for treatment, research and funding. Until a 2008 lawsuit in New Jersey established that anorexia and bulimia were biologically based mental illnesses, it was legal for insurance companies to deny necessary and lifesaving care. The message to sufferers? You’re not that bad off. You’re just making this up. Get over it.

Too many people can’t. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of all psychiatric illnesses. Up to 1 in 5 chronic anorexia sufferers will die as a direct result of their illness. Recovery from anorexia is typically thought of as the rule of thirds: One-third of sufferers get better, one-third have periods of recovery interrupted by relapse, and one-third remain chronically ill or die.

Although research into eating disorders is improving, it is still dramatically underfunded compared to other neuropsychiatric conditions. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that 4.4 percent of the U.S. population, or about 13 million Americans, currently suffers from an eating disorder, and eating disorders receive about $27 million in research funding from the government. That’s about $2 per affected person, for a disease that costs the economy billions of dollars in treatment costs and loss of productivity. Schizophrenia, in comparison, receives $110 per affected person in research funding.

The lack of research funding means that it’s been difficult to develop new treatments for eating disorders and test them in clinical trials. Several types of psychotherapy have been found effective in the treatment of bulimia and binge-eating disorder, although many sufferers have difficulty maintaining recovery even with state-of-the-art treatment. Thus far, no therapies have been clinically proven for adults with anorexia. Because many of those with anorexia are scared of the idea of eating more and gaining weight, they tend to be reluctant to show up for treatment and follow through with a clinical trial. Researchers have found a type of treatment known as family-based treatment, which uses the family as an ally in fighting their child’s eating disorder, to be effective in children, teens and young adults with anorexia or bulimia.

The message from AED and BEDA is technically correct: More and more children are dieting, whether in response to thin models, obesity prevention efforts or both. Dieting is potentially dangerous because food restriction can set off a chain of events in a vulnerable person’s brain and body. For most people, diets end after a modest weight loss (and are, more often than not, followed by a regain of the lost weight, plus a few “bonus” pounds as a reward for playing). For the 1 percent to 5 percent of the population that has a genetic vulnerability to an eating disorder, that innocent attempt at weight loss, “healthy eating,” or other situation that results in fewer calories being eaten than necessary, can trigger a life-threatening eating disorder.

However, focusing on purported cultural “causes” of eating disorders leaves out the much bigger, more multifaceted picture of what these disorders are. Eating disorders result from a complex interplay between genes and environment; it’s not just culture. Yet most media coverage of eating disorders focuses on these types of cultural factors. Well over half of the eating disorder stories I see are about celebrities. Celebrities suffer from eating disorders, too, but they are a small fraction of the total number of sufferers out there. Eating disorders aren’t solely about wanting to be thin. They aren’t about celebrity culture or the supermodel du jour. They are real illnesses that ruin lives.

Arnold is a freelance science writer living outside Norfolk, Va. She has just published her third book on eating disorders, “Decoding Anorexia: How Breakthroughs in Science Offer Hope for Eating Disorders.”

© 2012, Slate

JK Rowling’s treatment of OCD makes clear it’s not just about sock drawers

In an interview to promote her new book, JK Rowling has revealed that one of the main characters has obsessive-compulsive disorder. It was based, she explained, on her own experience of the illness, which revolved around “checking, double checking, triple checking things”. Hearing OCD talked about in a serious way, by a woman who obviously understands it well, comes as a pleasant surprise. It’s a very different description of the illness from the one the actor Julianne Moore gave four years ago when she said: “Those are the indulgences you can have before you have children. Now I don’t have time to obsess. All that stuff about, ‘I need to go this certain way and do that’ was an indulgence of my youth.”

OCD is a relatively new term, but the illness has been described accurately as far back as the 17th century. It is also a common anxiety disorder – the Royal College of Psychiatrists says that one person in every 50 will suffer from some form of it in their lifetime, but the serious aspects of it are little understood by the general public. Stories about OCD in the media often mistakenly interpret a superstitious nature, or an obsessive tendency for order, as the definitive signs of OCD. How often do you hear a friend refer to themselves as “a little bit OCD”, when really all they mean is that they like to colour co-ordinate their sock drawer?

It’s frustrating to hear interviews with people who discuss OCD as though it were a minor quirk, rather than an all-encompassing pit of worry (an example of this is a story about David Beckham needing to line up all the drinks cans in his fridge). While you may read about neat drawers pretty often, there is very little mention of the terrible thoughts that people with OCD grapple with. The executive director of the International OCD Foundation, Jeff Szymanski, says that the term OCD is often used erroneously: “What you have seen in the media and pop culture is a rise in people misusing the term OCD. What they really mean is they are obsessive or compulsive. But they don’t qualify for an anxiety disorder, which is what OCD is.”

People with obsessive-compulsive disorder often develop rituals to deal with the upsetting thoughts they’re having. A person worried about illness might become terrified of picking up germs, and so take to washing their hands hundreds of times a day. These rituals provide a sense of control, a short relief, but don’t deal with the deeper issues.

From my own experience, I found that OCD can also take a purely obsessional form, and sufferers find their thoughts fixating on all manner of topics. During the worst of this anxiety, I spent every waking moment in thrall to my racing mind, and the irrational thoughts that are the terrible hallmarks of OCD. Songs, images and phrases would stick in my head, like a skipping record player. I found that if you try to push out these intrusions, your mind cleverly adapts and comes back with even more frightening scenarios.

Szymanski says that this technique of repression is widely known to be unhelpful: “Thought suppression actually increases the frequency and intensity of those thoughts. A lot of avoidance behaviours are just as detrimental as traditional compulsive behaviours.”

Luckily, OCD can be helped with a huge variety of different medications and therapies. With help, I’ve found it is possible to overcome the thoughts and compulsions, and so it’s great to hear about someone as successful as JK Rowling tackling it so well. The ignorance that surrounds mental illness often means that people don’t seek help when they most need it. Huge progress has been made to try and remove the stigma from mental illnesses such as depression, now the same must be done for anxiety disorders. Let’s hope the dated colour-coded sock drawer myth is on its way out.

Helping Children Cope With OCD

By:  Kayla Bremer
KBremer@klkntv.com

Children who suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder now have a tool to help them cope.

Nearly 2–percent of the nation’s population suffer from the anxiety disorder.  It causes you to have obsessions and thoughts you can’t rid of.

Debby Houston has specialized in treating the illness for more than 20 years.  She wrote a therapeutic book to help children with OCD.  “the best way to describe OCD is it’s like your brain become stuck…and you can’t move forward.   That’s pretty miserable.   And so obviously with this level of impairment you need to get some intervention,” Houston says.

She’ll host a presentation at Bryan East for all ages on September 11th from 7 to 8:30 pm.

Admission is free.

NAMI Gulf Coast to host conference – Daily News

Published September 23, 2012

In Galveston and Brazoria counties alone, more than 150,000 people are affected by mental illness.

Out of those people, more than 50,000 people might be seeking treatment at any given time.

For this reason, NAMI Gulf Coast works diligently to help these families find the resources, education and support they might need.

A mental illness can overwhelm families and consume resources, especially in crisis. Mental illnesses such as bipolar, schizophrenia, obsessive compulsive disorder, depression and anxiety, to name a few, can be managed.

The community can envision mental illness like a four-legged stool, each leg represents support, community resources, education and medical care.

Without one leg, the stool will not function right. Families can get help, support, education and medication. That is why NAMI Gulf Coast exists.

In 1990, the U.S. Congress established the first full week of October as Mental Illness Awareness Week in recognition of NAMI’s efforts to raise awareness about mental illness.

Since 1990, mental health advocates across the country have joined together during the first full week of October in sponsoring many kinds of activities.

The hope is that participants will go forth, “Changing Attitudes, Changing Lives” at the community conference from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 5 at Moody Memorial First United Church, 2803 53rd St., in Galveston.

This unique conference will feature separate tracks for professionals (five CEUs provided), family members, individuals living with mental illness and the community.

The workshops in each track will host programs of interest specifically tailored to each group. The keynote luncheon speaker, Dr. Michael Fuller, will present “Choices in Recovery.”

Fuller serves as a faculty clinician and adviser for the Psychiatric Consultation and Liaison Service and has been a faculty member with the University of Texas Medical Branch since 1989.

Registration fees include lunch and are $45 for professionals, $35 for families affected by mental illness and $10 for individuals living with mental illness — which includes 5.0 CEUs.

Scholarships are available for individuals living with mental illness, families who care for children or an adult with a mental illness.

Registration is extended until Oct. 2. To register or for information, call 281-585-3100 or 409-944-4328, or email jmelis(at)namigulfcoast.org.

Jeanette Taylor is the executive director of NAMI Gulf Coast.

Copyright 2011 The Galveston County Daily News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Public servant’s widow speaks out on mental illness

An Ottawa woman is speaking out about her husband’s suicide, saying she wants people struggling with mental illness to seek help from family, friends or professionals.

Clarissa said her husband Eric — CBC and Radio-Canada have agreed not to use their last names — both worked in the federal public service.

Well before he took a job in the federal public service, Eric had obsessive-compulsive disorder, an anxiety disorder he had suffered from his entire adult life.

He had also battled depression.

Despite his mental illness, his wife described him as a star employee at the Department of Justice, where he worked as a lawyer, and said his performance reviews had been exemplary.

Clarissa was laid off from her job in April, and soon after, Eric received notice his department was cutting its staff of lawyers by two thirds, and that his job could be affected.

His wife said that for Eric, the threat of losing his job — or keeping it at the expense of a colleague — was deeply troubling, and his anxiety level rose.

“He’d been anxious for months, but in the last few weeks of his life, he was in this low-grade panic attack,” said Clarissa.

“I guess in the end, the mental illness took over, and his whole world became wrapped up in what he did for a living,” she said.

He took his own life on July 16.

“It’s been terrible … it’s been the worst time of my life,” she said.

More employees seeking assistance

Since federal job cuts were first announced in the March budget, there has been a marked increase in calls to the government’s Employee Assistance Program, according to Health Canada, which administers the program.

Health Canada said there was a 33-per-cent jump in April over the previous year, and an 11-per-cent overall increase in the months since.

Psychiatrists said seeking help is especially important if the employee suffers from a mental illness. Clarissa said her husband Eric suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression. (CBC)

“The sort of things that are helpful are talking therapies, or medication,” said Dr. Simon Hatcher at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre in Ottawa.

“If people do feel depressed or see someone else depressed, have a conversation with either the health service or contact the primary care physician,” said Hatcher.

Widow says seek help if you need it

Clarissa advised others to seek help if they are struggling.

“If you lose your job it’s not the end of the world. Just rely on your friends and your family, and your support networks, and if you need help from a doctor or a psychiatrist, go get it,” she said.

The Department of Justice issued a statement saying it sympathizes with Eric’s family and that it provides all employees with assistance programs to help them and their families in difficult times.

While Clarissa is still dealing with the loss of her husband, she has since found a new job and said she wants others facing job insecurity to know they will bounce back too.

Don’t worry, there are ways to cope with anxiety

Holbein, of Chicago, was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) three years ago but is now able to live a normal life by incorporating cognitive therapy and medications into his daily routine.

Generalized anxiety disorder affects 6.8 million adults per year, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

In fact, some medical experts have found that 90 percent of people will experience some form of anxiety, such as having a panic attack or having an obsessive thought that makes them anxious, at least once a year.

The good news is there are some easy coping methods to help get rid of the symptoms of anxiety.

Dr. Karen Cassiday, director of the Anxiety and Agoraphobia Treatment Center in Chicago and Deerfield, said anxiety is a normal feeling for most human beings but added that it can get out of control for some.

“Anxiety is a part of life, though it can become a problem when it starts to take over your life,” she said.

Some symptoms of anxiety and GAD include difficulty sleeping, fatigue, restlessness, muscle tension and even gastrointestinal discomfort or diarrhea. The symptoms can change and become worse if not taken care of, and other anxiety disorders might develop like panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and social anxiety disorders.

Cassiday said anxiety disorders can be hereditary or may even develop from living a particular lifestyle. She adds that her clinic is seeing more young people — including children — with anxiety disorders and believes parents are partially to blame.

“There are a lot of parents who are too overprotective with their kids,” said Cassiday. “It can turn into something worse later in life. We see many young adults these days that just live in their parents’ basement, for example, and are afraid and fearful of the stresses of adulthood.”

Cassiday suggests that parents slowly expose their children to the things they fear.

“If a child is afraid of clowns, go to the circus,” Cassiday said. “Exposing them to these things might help them deal with other fears they might face in the future.”

She also said our fast-paced lifestyle along with work issues can contribute to stress and anxiety.

She said exercising is a great way to relieve work-related and other types of anxiety.

“It doesn’t have to be boot camp, but simple exercising like walking or biking can reduce stress,” she said. “Yoga and meditation have also proven to be effective.”

Cassiday said altering one’s attitude, such as trying to have a sense of humor, can also ease up on stress and anxiety.

Perfectly wrong

<!–enpproperty 2012-08-22 09:46:38.0Liu ZhihuaPerfectly wrongOCD sufferer,World Health Organization,obsession,anxiety12003561News2@webnews/enpproperty–>

Repeated washing of hands, an obsession with closed doors or windows, anxiety about cleanliness – these may all be the physical symptoms of a much more disturbing mental disorder. Liu Zhihua explains.

Xiao Ming suddenly covers his mouth with his hand, blinks hard and smiles.

“Sorry I repeated the last few words so many times,” he says, stuttering as he nervously explains. “I couldn’t control myself.”

Xiao is suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), recognized by the World Health Organization as one of the top 10 most disabling disorders in terms of its effect on the quality of life.

It is estimated that China has more than 13 million OCD sufferers, according to Yan Jun, an established mental health specialist with the Peking University No 6 Hospital.

“In daily life, people use ‘obsessive-compulsive disorder’ to describe someone who is meticulous, perfectionistic, or fixated, and it is meant as flattery, more or less,” Yan says.

“But in medical terms, the phrase refers to a mental disorder that means a living hell for patients.”

An OCD patient is beset with obsessions or compulsions or both, and suffers from extreme anxiety or depression, she explains.

“The good news is, in most cases, the disorder develops slowly, and people have time to deal with it before it becomes too severe,” Yan says.

Everyone has obsessions or compulsions, but these develop into symptoms of OCD only when the obsessions and compulsions become all-consuming and get in the way of daily life.

About 50 percent of OCD cases take years and even decades to develop. Less than 10 percent develop within a few days, and others may occur over the course of several months, Yan adds.

College graduate Zhong Lin developed OCD in high school, but was not aware there was anything wrong at that time. She comes from a family with a strict father and an unloving stepmother. Zhong became a perfectionist, always aiming for good grades, but always failing to do well.

At age 17 she was already worrying about the neatness of her desk and bed, and would get excessively bothered if they were not fastidiously clean and tidy.

She thought these were merely harmless habits, even if they were distracting – until the time she spent on these obsessions became abnormally lengthy.

In 2010 – almost five years after she first noticed her “bad habits”, Zhong was finally diagnosed with OCD and depression.

“I’m lucky that my symptoms were not too severe when diagnosed,” Zhong says. “After undergoing psychotherapy and taking medication for two years, I’m mostly recovered.”

“The causes of the disorder are not clear, but there is a widely agreed hypothesis that both physical and psychological factors play a role,” says Guo Xufang, director of the Psychotherapy Room at Beijing Huilongguan Hospital, a respected mental health hospital in the capital.

“Genetic mutation, some personality traits and psychological pressure all contribute to OCD,” Guo explains.

If a person grows up with strict guardians, or has personality traits that include an over developed sense of responsibility, constant attention to detail, careful planning, an aversion to risk, and a tendency to weigh decisions for too long, their chance of getting OCD is increased, Guo adds.

“In a fast-paced society, it is very important to accept adversities and failures in life, and let them go,” Guo says.

In Xiao Ming’s case, he developed OCD because of his search for security and respect, and the psychological pressure of hiding his depression from others for years.

He was uncontrollably obsessed with things that others may consider just normal everyday occurrences, and he would repeatedly check locks, doors, and windows all the time.

“I felt extremely insecure. Only through repeatedly doing these things then I felt I had done something and I would find temporary relief.”

He was diagnosed with OCD in 2005 but without efficient treatment, he got worse. He started an obsession with digits and decided numbers, such as 19, 38 and 61, were lucky numbers, and he would repeatedly act according to these numbers.

For example, he would combine the number of steps he took and the number of times he washed his hands, and the total must add up to these “lucky” numbers. If it did not, he would repeat the whole process.

He also started repeating what he was saying dozens of times, and felt the compulsion to do embarrassing things in public, such as pouring water over someone’s face.

Xiao was admitted to Beijing Huilongguan Hospital late in 2011, and after three months of treatment, his condition improved.

“For mild OCD patients, psychotherapy is enough, but severe cases need to be treated with a combination of psychotherapy sessions and medication,” Guo says.

“Treatment may not necessarily effect a complete cure, but OCD can reach frightening levels if it is not treated.”

In many cases, people with OCD are diagnosed with other related conditions, such as depression, general anxiety disorders and social anxiety disorders.

Medication treats the chemical abnormalities in the nervous system, while psychotherapy, mostly “cognitive behavioral therapy”, helps patients learn to tolerate the anxiety associated with not performing obsessive or compulsive acts.

“Unlike physical diseases, OCD can only be treated efficiently when the patients are willing and cooperative,” Guo says. “When you have recurring thoughts that are compelling or uncontrollable, or when you constantly feel emotionally disturbed, then it’s best to seek professional help.”

Contact the writer at liuzhihua@chinadaily.com.cn.

Related: Jayma Mays has OCD like Glee character

What is Obsessive Compulsory Disorder

USA 24 August 2012. 30% of population has this condition, do you want to know more? Anxiety is one factor that always follows us like a shadow in every single step of life in different fashions and varies in intensity from person to person depending on its mode of presentation. One of the incarnations is OCD, i.e. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, which is seen in more than 30% of the population. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by unfair thoughts and obsessions that lead ne to do repetitious compulsive things. These behaviors can be time consuming, socially alienating and lead to emotional and financial distress. The most common finding is that the people suffering from OCD realize that their attitudes are irrational and irrelevant, which makes them depressive and this leads to worsening of the condition.

 

Neither race nor age or sex is exempted for OCD; however, majority of adolescents and middle-aged people tend to get affected more frequently. There is another condition called as Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD), which is a condition in which a person is preoccupied with rules, orderliness, and controls. Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder is most commonly a condition where genes may be involved. A person’s childhood and growing environment may also play roles. This condition can affect both men and women; but it mostly often occurs in men. OCPD has some of the same symptoms as OCD. However, people with OCD have unwanted thoughts, while people with OCPD believe that their thoughts are correct. OCD persons experience involuntary, uncontrollable thoughts, ideas, images, and illusions etc., repeatedly in mind with which they are driven to behave or perform certain rituals repeatedly to over come anxiety. Most of the OCD personalities could be washers, checkers, doubters and sinners, hoarders or Counters and arrangers. Some common obsessions include fear of being contaminated by germs or dirt or contaminating others, fear of harm, fear of losing, excessive religious beliefs or rituals, superstitions etc. When it comes to some of the common compulsions of OCD, they would be excessive checking of things, spending more time in washings and cleansing, accumulating junk at home or at office, attending religious rituals repeatedly from fear, doing senseless things to avoid anxiety, counting, tapping, etc. OCD in children must be paid more attention as it affects the child’s future, life and it could lead to some other psychiatric complications such as social phobia, panic phobia, Trichotilomania (pulling the hair), depression, dysthymia, learning disorders or body dimorphic disorders etc.

 

The curative aspect of OCD is mainly Psychotherapy (Psychodynamic Psychotherapy) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) that can play a key role in OCD management. Some anti depressants do help to reduce the intensity of the OCD; however, CBT is the preferred one. Neurosurgical treatment of OCD such as minimally invasive techniques like gamma knife irradiation and foremost deep brain stimulation has arisen as novel tools for psychosurgery today in cases requiring more advanced attention. Jeffrey Schwartz, a well known psychiatrist offered four steps to over come OCD such as Reattribute, Revalue, Refocus and Reliable.

 

Before modern science’s evolution, OCD was said to be incurable. However, one should not overlook nature and what it has gifted us. Ancient science recognized the importance of psychiatric disorders and postulated certain lifestyle rules and regulations in terms of culture and practices which in depth regulate the mind and human body.

 

Common sense remedies for OCD:

 

Practice disciplined and planned life style in terms of health and happy living.

 

Avoid unnecessary life targets which are time consuming and stressful.

 

Practice yoga and meditation and keep mind in control.

 

Take Ashwagandha, Bacopa, Centella combination herbal supplements, which can help to overcome OCD over a period of time.

 

Take equal parts of nutmeg, mace powders, and twice quantity of Licorice powder, and a little sugar. Your natural tranquilizer is ready. One spoon of this twice daily keeps all worries away.

 

Regular consumption of Basil leaves keeps mind fit.

 

If you feel worried about OCD symptoms take fine powder of muskroot with milk.

 

Decoction made up of Cardamom and Cumin seeds will help to reduce the intensity of OCD symptoms.

 

If possible try this treatment at home; an application of continuous stream of mildly warm oil to the body parts. Take one liter of sesame oil and add Ashwagandha powder, Muskroot, Basil leaves, rhizomes of Sweet flag and Turmeric to it. Boil the oil for about few hours and then let it get cooled. Your remedy is ready. Apply this oil to fore head twice a day for ten days. This will give good results to overcome the OCD symptoms.

 

I hope the above discussion on OCD and some of the home remedies should be useful to most people that are trying to address these conditions.

 

Dr. Satya Narayana B.A.M.S.

 

Dr. Satya Narayana is a Clinical research investigator, Naturopathic / Ayurveda Doctor and a consultant of Herbal Destination, USA. Read other articles by him like What is Ashwagandha and What is Bacopa. All information provided above is for educational purposes only. For questions or to consult Dr. Satya, please send an email to
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