If you watch America’s Got Talent you will notice that Howie Mandel will only fist bump with people, but not shake hands. Howie has the mysophobia (fear of germs) part of OCD. That is why he always shaves his head because it makes him feel cleaner.
Robert Burton developed the first diagnosis of OCD in the 17th Century. About 3.3 million people in the U.S suffer from OCD. 2% of those sufferers are adults and the rest are children.
There are many symptoms of OCD and they all worsen due to stress, illness, and fatigue. Symptoms of obsession can consist of repetitive unwanted ideas, fear of contamination, aggressive impulses, persistent sexual thoughts, images of hurting someone you love, and/or thoughts of causing harm to yourself or others.
The most common signs of compulsiveness are constant checking, constant counting, repetitive cleaning, constantly checking stoves or door locks, and arranging items to face a certain way. Short term effects of OCD are the inability to function as a contributing member of society, unable to maintain relationships, and have difficulty at school and work. Body Dysmorphic Disorder, Trichotillomania (hair pulling), Excoriation Disorder (skin picking), and Hoarding Disorder are all similar to OCD and can also be a part of OCD along with Anxiety and Depression.
“Knowing that a fear isn’t ‘logical’ doesn’t lessen the anxiety” (K,Natalie,N/A).
A case study on OCD that I read was about a 27-year-old woman named C.D. She complained of excessive checking that started in her childhood. She would spend hours on homework making sure it was perfect. Her homework that she turned in couldn’t have cross outs of eraser marks.
C.D also had a ritual of rearranging her room before she went to bed that took hours. When she was in college she developed new rituals like checking appliances to make sure they were off, checking the faucet to make sure it wasn’t running, and checking to see if all the doors were locked in fear of causing harm to herself or others. Her bedroom ritual also became 3-4 hours long leaving little time to sleep or study.
She did go to a therapist but she did not tell him about her rituals in fear of being labeled as crazy. Her rituals ended up consuming so much time that she would be late to classes or miss them entirely. Her mood and appetite plummeted to the point she ended up dropping out of college and returning home. Her parents noticed severe changes in C.D and took her to a Psychiatrist. The Psychiatrist diagnosed her with depression.
After trying two different types of Antidepressants and seeing no change in her behavior C.D got a 2nd opinion. She became comfortable enough with him to admit her routines. With talking to him and being on an anti-depressant her routines took less time, became manageable and allowed her to be able to return to college and graduate.
Several people wonder what causes OCD. Many researchers suggest that poor communication between the front part of the brain and the deeper structures of the brain is the cause for OCD. The poor communication lies in the neurotransmitter (basically a messenger) called serotonin brain structures use. The parts of the body affected by OCD is muscles and nerves from tightening up, heart rate increasing, blood circulation, also hands can become red and rashy from excessive washing, etc.
These effects are suffered by women and men of all ethnics equally, but in childhood more boys have OCD than girls since the onset age for boys is 6-15 and is 20-29 for girls. Most people with OCD are diagnosed by the age of 40.The treatment options for OCD are medication, therapy, and surgery. Some people see a change in using just therapy or medicine on its own, But majority see the best results in using therapy and medicine together for treatment. Surgery is used as a last resort for people who didn’t respond well to medicine and therapy.
There are many types of therapy used to help people with OCD. Therapy can be individual, family, or group sessions. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is effective for most. Exposure and Response Prevention (type of CBT) gradually exposes the patient to feared objects or obsessions and helps the patient learn healthy ways to cope with their OCD.
The medications that are usually prescribed to OCD sufferers are antidepressants also known as serotonin reuptake inhibitors since people with OCD have unbalanced serotonin levels. The common antidepressants prescribed are Clomipramine, also known as Anafranil (for children 10 and older), Fluoxetine AKA Prozac (for adults and children 7 and older), Fluvoxamine (for adult and children 8 and older), Paroxetine also known as Paxil and Pexeva (adults only), and Sertraline also known as Zoloft (for adults and children 6 and older).
Some of the side effects can be hard on the patients so some stop taking the medication. In the case study I read the subject used therapy and medications for treatment. The therapy and medication helped her get to the point where she returned to and completed college. OCD evolves through a person’s life from being mild/almost gone and without treatment it can get to the point where OCD completely consumes your life.
Long term effects from having OCD untreated are depression, constant anxiety, and high risk of substance abuse, which is due to the poor quality of life extreme suffers of OCD have. Finally, the sooner OCD sufferers get treatment the better because OCD gets harder to treat the longer people wait to get help.OCD is unpreventable, but symptoms can be managed by sticking with therapy and taking medications exactly how they are prescribed. Sticking with treatment also prevents relapses. Some misconceptions about OCD are: We’re all a little OCD sometimes, OCD is just about hand washing, cleaning, and being neat and OCD isn’t a big deal they just need to relax. These misconceptions state the exact opposite of what OCD is about.
“I wish people understood how invalidating it is when they say ‘I’m sooo OCD.’ Obsessive-compulsive disorder is real and valid, and I’m hesitant to talk about my experience with OCD because I fear not being taken seriously. I’ve finally started proper treatment for my OCD, but I still struggle. It can be debilitating, and how much it affects my life honestly just makes me cry sometimes; I feel like I can’t fully enjoy life and do the things I want because my anxiety holds me back from doing so” (P,Gessie,N/A). We all have little quirks but OCD is more than that. People with OCD have several quirks that slowly end up consuming their lives. OCD isn’t just about cleanliness, this just a small part of some OCD cases.
There is a wide variety of triggers to people with OCD including cleanliness. OCD is a serious mental disorder that isn’t caused by stress but can worsen due to stress. The obsessions and compulsions OCD sufferers have are often debilitating. Their disorder can’t be fixed with will power on its own either. “OCD compulsions have a lot of complex thoughts behind them. For example, someone without OCD sees someone washing his or her hands until they bleed. The observer would most likely think, ‘That person must be germaphobic.’ In reality, the person with OCD is washing repeatedly because they feel that if they don’t, their friends and family will get into horrible accidents and die. The person with OCD logically knows that hand washing cannot possibly have that effect, but resisting the compulsion will make their anxiety skyrocket”. (N, Amanda, N/A)
People should know that OCD is hard on the person suffering with it and also on their family and loved ones. OCD takes over the suffers’ life, goals, and dreams. Suffers of OCD will describe that they feel like a prisoner inside their own brain. “My son who lives with OCD and Asperger’s said ‘it’s like I’m in jail and my OCD is the bars. I want people to know it is real and debilitating, and the entire family lives with it. This is a misunderstood disorder” (R,Kristen,N/A).
Not only is OCD scary for the people suffering with it but also for the parents of the sufferers. “OCD affects not only adults, but kids too. I wish teachers knew how deep OCD can run. Many people think it’s just hand washing, collecting or counting things all the time. When I watch my son struggle because of deep intrusive thoughts, I pray his teachers will have the knowledge someday to understand how OCD can affect their students in a classroom setting. Knowledge is power” (S,Eileen,N/A).