Obsessive-compulsive Disorder

Characterized by invasive thoughts that lead to uneasiness, suspicion, fear or worry combined with repetitive behaviors aimed at reducing anxiety is the disorder known as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).  Diagnosed just as often as asthma and diabetes and ranked as the fourth most common mental disorder, OCD affects nearly one in every 50 adults in the United States.

With studies showing roughly one-third to one-half of adults with OCD reporting a childhood onset of the disorder, it affects men, women, children and adults.  OCD is periodically accompanied by an eating disorder or other anxiety disorders as well as depression.

Obsessions are the thoughts that appear and persist, despite efforts to ignore them.  As a result, people with OCD often perform tasks (compulsions) to seek relief from their obsession-related anxiety.  Those suffering from OCD understand that their notions do not reconcile with the outside world, but feel as though they must act as though they do.

In 50% to 60% of OCD cases, the disorder manifests without overt compulsions.  Rather than immersing in observable compulsions, those with this subtype tend to perform more covert, mental rituals.  More often than not, they feel driven to avoid any situation in which particular obsessive thoughts might be triggered.

It has been agreed upon that both psychological and biological factors play a role in this disorder although opinions vary regarding which factor has a greater emphasis.  Additionally, where exposure-based therapy has proven to be helpful for some in treating OCD, The National Institute of Mental Health is currently supporting research into new treatment approaches which include combination and augmentation treatments as well as deep brain stimulation.



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