Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Obsessive compulsive disorder or OCD is one of the types of anxiety disorders that traps people in a vicious cycle of repetitive behaviors triggered by unhealthy thoughts. The more a person is affected by obsessive compulsive personality disorder the more he focuses on anxiety-inducing thoughts that come back obsessively and the more he feels the urge to perform compulsive routines to cope with those thoughts. In this article we will look at what OCD is, what can trigger it as well as we will define the diagnostic criteria for this condition.
Extremely hard to control without professional help, OCD can turn into a disabling illness that makes it impossible for sufferers to perform daily tasks and to manage personal or professional problems without repeating certain rituals. In some cases, these compulsive and illogical routines last for hours, severely affecting the patient’s mental clarity and quality of life.
What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Caused by?
This chronic anxiety disorder affects both children and adults with an average of 4 in 100 people suffering from OCD. While most of the time the onset of this ailment is situated in early adult life, – with men being more prone to developing obsessive compulsive disorder than women -, there are also numerous cases in which this mental illness begins during childhood.
The causes and factors that favor the occurrence of this condition aren’t fully understood, but it is generally considered that the symptoms of OCD are more likely to appear in people with a family history of anxiety disorders and in those living or working under exceptionally stressful conditions. People that tend to react strongly to stress are more exposed to developing compulsive behaviors because they experience intrusive thoughts and emotional distress more frequently.
But besides these risk factors, it is generally accepted that obsessive compulsive personality disorder is linked with:
- Genetics, although no specific gene responsible for obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors has been identified yet
- The brain’s chemistry and functioning, as it is proven that changes in the levels of serotonin contribute to the occurrence of anxiety disorders. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that favors the transmission of messages between your nerve cells. In some people, the levels of this chemical are insufficient, therefore messages aren’t properly sent from one cell to another and this may result in unhealthy thinking or behavior patterns.
When left untreated, OCD can progress very quickly, inhibiting the patient’s ability of acting, thinking or maintaining healthy social relationships. This is why being diagnosed in the early stages of the ailment is so important for coping with the typical symptoms.
Specific Tests and Diagnostic Criteria for OCD
To be diagnosed with obsessive compulsive personality disorder you first have to realize that your behavior is not normal and your thoughts are not reasonable. Also, you have to be ready to cooperate with the psychologist to identify the possible causes of your obsessive thoughts and to be absolutely sincere when it comes to talking about your compulsions in order to help your doctor find the best possible obsessive compulsive disorder treatment for your individual case.
Besides the physical examination and laboratory tests, your health care provider will ask you about the onset of your symptoms, their severity and the way they affect your daily life. You’ll be asked to talk about the nature of your obsessive thoughts and the behaviors they trigger. If your thoughts are recurrent and persistent, distressing and excessive and you can’t ignore or suppress them, if you constantly feel driven to perform repetitive actions to cope with your worries and intrusive ideas, you may be suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder.