Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

OCD is caused by a disturbance in brain circuits which are responsible for controlling impulses and judgement.

This leads to a patient suffering from recurring thoughts, feelings, emotions and acts which he has very little control over. Attempts to control the thoughts or behaviour leads to anxiety and distress which does not resolve unless the patient gives in to the Obsessions or compulsions.

Soon, a patient ends up spending a significant part of the day yielding to the illness, leading to difficulties at work, with family and close relationships. A great amount of distress is felt due to the lack of control and helplessness. It can even lead to depression, anxiety and suicide.

Examples of Obsessions :

  • Need for symmetry and organisation
  • Fears of dirt, contamination
  • Fears of disease
  • Fear of killing someone or killing self
  • Violent or horrific images coming into the mind
  • Disgust with with bodily fluids, secretions, waste
  • Forbidden sexual thoughts,

Examples of compulsions :

  • Repeated hand washing
  • Checking locked doors, gas stove
  • Organising things in a rigid manner
  • Acts like touching, spitting, gestures
  • Hoarding things without any value and being unable to discard them
  • Mental rituals like repeating a number, sequence or phrase

Treating OCD

  • OCD is best treated by a combination of medication and a specialised psychotherapy called Exposure and Response Prevention.
  • Early recognition and treatment improves the chances of recovery.