Characterized by non-stop, reoccurring unwanted thoughts that lead to repetitive, equally unwanted behaviors, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a serious mental health condition. While the severity levels, as with any other mental disorder, depend largely on the specific sufferer, OCD has been known to be a rehabilitating, life-altering condition that more often than not requires some sort of treatment from a mental health professional.
While popular opinion is that OCD is a rare condition, the truth is, it’s becoming increasingly more common. More than 1 in 50 people suffer from the disorder – more than those which suffer from bipolar depression or panic disorders. Estimates have shown that over 2 percent of the total population has to deal with some form of OCD for certain periods in their lives.
While the severity of OCD varies, all forms of the condition carry similar characteristics. Obsessions, which ultimately drive sufferers to have to do certain things (rituals), are unwanted thoughts or impulses that appear in a sufferer’s mind at any given time throughout the day. These thoughts include anything from unnecessary fears, to the feeling that things remain undone, to nervousness about the future. Stress can further hinder this condition.
The obsessions then make people with OCD do certain things, known as rituals. Most of the time, these rituals involve activities that ensure cleanliness, or check for accuracy, or retain unnecessary items.
Typically, symptoms of OCD arise fairly early. They generally develop quietly towards childhood years, and then begin to get stronger during the teen and early adulthood periods. The disorder knows no cultural, racial or gender boundaries – inflicting itself on every group equally.
Studies have shown that antidepressants that that impact the neurotransmitter serotonin have relieved OCD to some degree in 75 percent of sufferers. Most of the time, drugs such Paxil, Zoloft and Prozac are prescribed.
Behavioral and psychotherapy have also been known to be utilized in the treatment of OCD.