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Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder


Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a chronic, potentially disabling anxiety disorder. It is characterized by unwanted and recurring thoughts (obsessions) and by behaviors that are repetitive and meaningless but extremely difficult to control (compulsions). People with the condition often feel helpless, suffer psychologically, and are anxious about their condition. You can cure this illness with the help of our Recovery Groups .


OCD is affected by a combination of biological, inherited, and environmental factors. Research has shown that changes in the level and balance of chemicals in the brain are associated with anxiety and other related disorders. They also indicate that OCD has a genetic component since it is found in family members. Obsessive-compulsive disorder can develop due to certain bacterial infections (streptococcal infections) contracted in childhood or after injury or trauma to the head or brain.

Symptoms and Complications

OCD has a slow evolution. It begins with some obsessions, which gradually become rituals. People with OCD normally have a great concern for cleanliness and fear contamination. Their dull behaviors, such as washing their hands, taking daily showers, doing housework, start slowly but become difficult to control as they develop into increasingly frequent, meticulous, and prolonged occupations.
Other common compulsions include:
  • fear of fire: electrical appliances are constantly checked to make sure they are turned off;
  • fear of being attacked: doors are checked several times before going out or going to bed;
  • the need for perfection: an enormous amount of time is spent perfecting the organization and contents of the cabinets;
  • a compulsive need for consistency: to follow the same path every day to get to work or to cross the street in the same place;
  • count: brush your hair in a set number of strokes, or touch the table several times before going around it;
  • fear of losing control or getting angry;
  • intrusive sexual thoughts.
Few rituals can have a place in everyday life, but the problems start when they interfere with life's value. People with OCD cannot avoid a step in their ritual activities. Else, compulsive thoughts will haunt them until the ritual is done correctly as they think it must be. They then feel relieved, but the release is short-lived because of the obligation to start all over quickly returns.


Usually, the illness is diagnosed when dull behaviors interfere with daily activities, take time-consuming, and reason psychological distress. It is occasionally difficult to diagnose because the affected person performs their rituals or compulsive acts in secret. Sometimes she is aware that something is wrong but does not dare to ask for help.
If the obsessive-compulsive disorder is suspected, the doctor may start by doing a physical exam and then ask about the medical history to arrive at a diagnosis.

Treatment and Prevention

OCD can be treated with psychological or drug methods or a mixture of the two.
  • The main psychological involvement is cognitive-behavioral therapy - exposure or response prevention - which may have a high success rate in motivated persons, with few relapse cases. The cure consists of deliberately exposing the person to their obsessions to force them to confront the behaviors they trigger. But the psychoanalyst prevents the person from performing their ritual (prevention of responses). For example, suppose the ritual consists of knocking on the door five times before opening it. In that case, the therapist accompanying the person prevents him from knocking on the door, forcing him to open without knocking.
  • Therapy should be repeated frequently, over weeks or even months, until you can push off the obsessive thoughts that control the behavior. As obsessive thoughts lose their frequency, ritualistic behaviors should start to become less frequent. At this period, it is important to make sure that new ritual behaviors do not replace those that have been made disappear. New ritualistic behaviors should be actively combated if they appear.
  • Behavioral treatment will only be effective if you are extremely motivated and truly want to deal with your situation. It is helpful to learn different ways of thinking about the situations that make you anxious and to learn different ways of reacting to them. As this is a challenge for you and your family, you must support your own to overcome obstacles.
  • Drug treatment can also be effective for OCD. Antidepressants that affect the flow of serotonin through the brain are very helpful in controlling the symptoms of OCD. These medicines include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as fluoxetine *, paroxetine, fluvoxamine, sertraline, escitalopram, etc., tricyclic antidepressant clomipramine. It may take 4 to 6 weeks for these medications to work properly, so be patient and continue to take the medication as recommended by your doctor or pharmacist.
  • Medicines can work differently in different individuals, and it may be necessary to change the medicine or dose before the right combination is found. Drug treatment does not offer a quick fix: People with OCD should not stop taking their medication and should actively adhere to their treatment to avoid the risk of a relapse. With time and sustained effort, a strong desire to change your behaviors, and family and doctor support, you can successfully overcome OCD.