Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental illness or psychological disorder in which compulsive and repetitive behavior occupy a patient’s mind. The patient tends to suffer from excessive anxiety and by following a repetitive behavior or extensive ritual alleviates their anxiety.
The causes of OCD are unknown, but it can happen due to family history, genetic factors, hormonal changes, disruption in brain chemistry, daily life stress, traumatic event, depression, toxic relationship, financial, professional or social life stressors, or even bullying at workplace. The cause may be personal for every one.
People suffering from OCD can display different types of OCD behavior. These may include the following:
- Indulging in excessive cleanliness.
- Fear of contamination and visualizing germs everywhere.
- Organizing things in a particular pattern, orientation, or symmetry.
- Reorganizing things over and over again with the intention of not breaking the cycle.
- Hoarding of objects or compulsive shopping.
- Organizing things or maintaining any pattern of behavior to the perfection.
- Compulsively believing taboo thoughts.
Symptoms of OCD
The OCD involves two types of emotions: Obsession and compulsion. Broadly, the symptoms are also classified under these two emotions.
Obsessive symptoms include:
- Repetitive and aggressive thoughts. It might be about oneself or others.
- Maintain things or schedule in a particular order.
- Fearing of contamination and germs.
- Mind being occupied with unnecessary thoughts all the time.
- Developing compulsive behavior for religion, sex, harming self or others.
Compulsive symptoms Include:
- Counting objects compulsively.
- Excessively driven towards cleanliness.
- Organizing things or daily work in certain symmetrical order.
- Compulsively checking on some activities such as is the door locked or not, is the stove switched off or not, etc.
An OCD treatment program is majorly dependent on medication and psychotherapy. For cases, where medication and psychotherapy may prove to be inadequate, intensive treatment programs are also available. Only psychotherapy is not sufficient to treat OCD and there would be frequent relapses.
Medication focuses on increasing the serotonin levels in blood to decrease the symptoms of OCD. There are drugs available such as paroxetine, fluoxetine, etc. which have worked well in the past for OCD but these medications need to be prescribed by a doctor after a proper diagnosis.
Psychotherapy by medical professionals has proved as an effective level of treatment in treating OCD. It is successful in breaking the compulsive behavior by diverting the compulsive thinking process. More often, psychotherapy is clubbed together with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and exposure and response prevention therapy (ERP) to work on the obsessive behavioral pattern of the patient.
Along with psychotherapy and meditation, self-coping strategies, such as exercising, yoga, meditation, relaxation techniques, and recreational activities, can also help alleviate OCD behaviors. Past studies have proved that recreational transcranial magnetic stimulation and neurosurgical methods have also been efficacious in curbing OCD.
When to Consider Intensive Treatment Programs
In some patients, a treatment plan comprising medication or psychotherapy or any other form of the above mentioned treatment might not simply work. These patients are categorized under treatment-resistant OCD.
Intensive residential treatment programs are developed to combat treatment-resistant OCD. The fundamental feature of intensive residential treatment programs is that they are built to provide both inpatient and outpatient facilities. The treatment involves individualized self-assessment tools to determine the severity of OCD. Based on the severity of the OCD, a treatment plan is determined and scheduled for the patients. It might require to admit the patient for days, months, weeks, only weekend, or years depending on the frequency of relapse, history, and the duration of illness.
Patients with mild symptoms can opt for treatment in outpatient centers. These centers provide facilities for healthy living within a controlled environment to prevent relapse. They are well equipped with medical facilities and allow patients to stay under 24/7 supervision of doctors, supportive network, paramedics, occupational therapist, and psychologists. They provide a list of combined therapies including psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), medication, group therapy, family therapy, educational therapy, relaxation therapy, and recreational therapy.
Inpatient treatment program: These treatment programs focus on patients with a tendency to harm themselves and who relapse recurrently. A period of hospitalization helps ensure the safety of such patients. While the patient is at the hospital, the staff teaches them to manage emotional pain, changes behavioral patterns, teaches them life skills, and guides them to the right path to combat the symptoms of OCD at the root level. They are kept under 24/7 medical supervision and are treated for the OCD by a combination of multiple therapies.
Residential treatment program: This type of treatment program is suitable for those patients who are not a danger for themselves or others, but do not respond well to the typical compulsive treatment and need extra help. For such patients, the accommodation plans are usually carried out in a home-like ambience, where a person stays for a period of time and is cared for around the clock. The program usually lasts about 60 days, but it varies from person to person.
An overwhelming mental disorder, OCD has shattered more lives than we care to admit. People, battling this compulsive disorder, are ridiculed for their obsessive and compulsive behavior. It has affected families and have made patients slip into depressive episodes.