People worldwide suffering from OCD are looking for an effective OCD treatment. For anyone unsure of what OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) is one of the most popular sitcom characters portraying these symptoms was Monica Geller in Friends (who had an extreme obsession with being neat and having everything in order).
OCD is a mental and anxiety disorder where sufferers display uncontrollable, unwanted thoughts and actions that prove to be repetitive and ritualised but which are hard to stop. About 2% of the population will suffer from symptoms of this disorder. It is normally diagnosed in adolescents (approximately 1 in 100 children will be classified as obsessive compulsive) and is evident in more women than men.
A bit like a stuck record OCD makes the brain stick on a particular urge or thought. It may involve going back into the house 20 times to check you turned the iron off, repeatedly washing your hands, hoarding items not wanted/needed or more worryingly disturbing aggressive or sexual urges. People with OCD are often aware that their thoughts and actions are not rational and that it impacts negatively on their family, friends and social skills. They are not happy with their actions and are riddled with anxiety as well as shame, guilt and depression but are controlled by their compulsions. When someone gets to this stage it’s important that they seek treatment of OCD.
There are many OCD treatment options that are effective ranging from self-help, therapy and medication.
There are countless self-help resources available for OCD treatment in the form of books, CD’s and DVD’s in addition to support groups of fellow sufferers.
It is important for obsessive-compulsive disorder sufferers to understand that their condition is a disorder and not something that means they are crazy (as in often portrayed in TV and movies). This involves reconditioning your brain so that if for example you get the urge to wash your hands after having just done it you tell yourself it is due to your compulsion as you can quite clearly see that your hands are already clean. Once you realise that it is the OCD that makes you act the way you do and not you yourself you have fought part of the battle. For many people it helps to write down their obsessive thoughts. It helps them face up to their issues and confront them.
The use of alcohol or drugs to control OCD will never work and must be avoided at all costs. Try replacing them with relaxation techniques and exercise and you will have a healthier body and outlook on life.
Cognitive Behavioural Disorder (CBT)
This is probably the most effective treatment for OCD and is a form of specialist “talking treatment”. It works loosely along the lines of the self-help strategies mentioned above but aided by sessions with a qualified therapist either one-to-one or as part of a group. Your therapist will usually recommend exposure and response prevention therapy.
This therapy (also known as exposure and ritual prevention) involves gradually learning to tolerate the impulse or situation you fear (exposure) without allowing the ritual behaviour to manifest itself and control you (ritual/response prevention). As an example for someone who is obsessed with cleanliness, they may get asked to go to a public toilet and touch the door handle and then prevented from washing their hands. Instead of getting anxious the therapist would help you develop techniques to control the anxiety.
Although this OCD therapy is highly effective it can be difficult for the sufferer. It requires them to confront their disorder and to be highly motivated and have lots of willpower.
Your doctor may decide to give you medication as an OCD treatment. These drugs known as selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRI’s) work by reducing your anxiety levels and are also used to deal with depression.
With SSRI’s it can take 2-3 months before you start seeing any tangible results. In addition you will need to take the medication for at least a year.
For those that do not respond to self help, CBT, medication or support groups as a very last resort you may get referred to undergo psychosurgery. For these people a recent study has shown around 30% of patients benefited greatly from this treatment for OCD.
Although OCD can be a frustrating and frankly annoying disorder for many people with the aid of at least one of the OCD treatment programs highlighted above it can be fought helping you to start leading a normal life.