There are many different diseases discovered all over the globe, and one of them is obsessive-compulsive disorder. Moreover, about one out of eighty-three people suffers from this disease. The interesting fact about the disorder is that people are aware of their actions, however, they do not think that it is strange. Nevertheless, OCD is a common disease just like diabetes or asthma; therefore, people with this disorder can live a normal life.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is characterized by the appearance of repetitive, unwanted, uncontrollable thoughts, fantasies, memories, fears, doubts, impulses and actions that are perceived by individual as his or her own. Moreover, all these phenomena are not imposed by the outside factors or by any other forces (for instance, schizophrenia). They constantly repeat and they seem to be foolish, supernatural, disgusting or horrible for the patient (Tortora 21).
In most cases, usual obsessions are accompanied by oppressive anxiety or fear. The most common obsessions are contamination, loss of loved ones, and obsessive doubts. Usually people with obsessive-compulsive disorder have to perform so-called rituals. These rituals are repeated and deliberate actions, which help to prevent the imaginary misery, or to relief it. For example, the rituals used to eliminate obsessive contamination include constant cleaning of clothing as well repeated hand washing throughout the day. Such measures help to overcome the fear of contracting with serious infectious diseases (O’Connor 51). In most cases, the rituals, such as excessive hand washing or re-examination of the locked door, are obvious to ordinary people. Mental rituals, such as re-creation of the account or self instructions, are also implemented to reduce the imaginary danger. In addition to described OCD of neurotic level, there is also an obsessive-compulsive personality disorder; however, these two diseases differ from each other.
Obsession can affect any object and rituals are not always logically connected with the discomfort that they are intended to reduce. For example, a person with fear of contamination can feel relief, once in he puts his hands into his pockets. Since then, when he has a made-up idea about the possible contamination, he always puts his hands into the pockets (Giddens 43).
In most cases, people with OCD know that their obsessions do not correspond to the reality. They realize that their compulsions are excessive and strange. Obsessive-compulsive disorder is thus different from psychotic diseases, which make people lose an adequate assessment of the reality.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder occurs in about 0, 05 percent of the population and in approximately equal frequency between men and women. Because people with this disorder fear of being shamed, they often perform their rituals in secret, despite the fact that their compulsive actions can take several hours every day. About a third of people suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder, during the diagnosis of the disease, have also depression. In general, at some point, depression develops in two thirds of these patients (O’Connor 23).
The cause of OCD is unknown; however, there are some risk factors that can promote the progression of the disease:
- Micro pathology of brain.
- Functioning features of the autonomic nervous system.
- Violations in exchange neurotransmitters: serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, GABA.
- Infectious diseases (particularly streptococcal etiology.)
- Different accentuation of personality or character.
- Stressful factors.
- Social factors (strict religious upbringing, inadequate response to specific situations).
Situation role-play (type of behavioral therapy) often helps people with obsessive-compulsive disorder. During the implementation of such therapy, it is recommended to patient to role-play situations or to meet people that cause discomfort or obsessions, which, in turns, leads to rituals. Discomfort or anxiety are gradually reduced, if a person does not allow himself to perform a ritual during the contact with the provoking stimulus. Therefore, a person is aware that the ritual is not necessary, and individual does not require it for the withdrawal of the discomfort. Improvement is usually maintained over the years, probably because the people, who have mastered this method of self-help, after formal treatment is ended, continue to practice it without much effort on their own (Hyman 15).
However, there are also medications that can help to improve the patient’s state. In fact, there are numerous medications that helped many people with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Three drugs such as Anafranil (clomipramine), Prozac (fluoxetine) and Luvox (fluvoxamine), are officially approved for use in the treatment of this disease; in addition, Paxil and Zoloft have been effective, which are used with other antidepressants, but much less frequently (Hyman 32).
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Psychotherapy, which allows a person to better understand its internal conflicts in obsessive-compulsive disorder, as a rule, is not effective enough. Typically, the best treatment is a combination of medication and behavioral therapy.
However, there are many compulsions and obsessions that people suffer from. And it is difficult for people to find help, because they think that their behavior is not out of ordinary. Though there is no cure for this disease, an individual can live a normal life with proper therapy and medications.