1- OCD is a psychiatric illness recognized by experts throughout the world.
2- OCD is an anxiety disorder characterized by symptoms that can include powerful, unwanted, or recurrent thoughts and/or compulsive, repetitive behaviors.
3- OCD is the fourth most common mental illness and affects over 4 million people in the United States.
4- People with OCD are not "crazy," although they may sometimes feel that way because they are troubled by thoughts and actions that they know are inappropriate.
5- People with OCD are often anxious and depressed.
6- People with OCD often believe they are the only ones who have irrational, obsessive thoughts, and are therefore often ashamed and afraid to tell anyone or to seek help. Diagnosis is delayed until these symptoms are "unmasked."
7- Having OCD is not a sign of weakness. or a lack of willpower in stopping the thoughts and behaviors.
8- Although the exact cause is not known, experts believe that OCD may be caused in part by an imbalance of a chemical in the brain called serotonin.
9- OCD is a treatable disease, and effective medications and therapy techniques are available.
10-There are many resources available for people with OCD and their loved ones.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a psychiatric mental disorder characterized by obsessive thoughts and/or compulsive behaviors that significantly interfere with normal life. Obsessions are unwanted, recurrent, and disturbing thoughts which cannot be suppressed and which can cause overwhelming anxiety. Compulsions are repetitive, ritualized behaviors that the person feels driven to perform to alleviate the anxiety of the obsessions. The obsessive and compulsive rituals can occupy many hours of each day.
There are many disorders that have been mistakenly labeled as OCD. Some of them are eating disorders, compulsive shopping, kleptomania, alcoholism, trichotillomania, and bodydimorphic disorder. While there are similarities between OCD and these other disorders, there are also significant differences. Similar disorders that are not in fact OCD may be identified as Obsessive Compulsive Spectrum Disorders. Some of them require similar treatment but for others the treatment is different.
Does OCD Always Include Both Obsessions and Compulsions? Approximately 80 percent of patients with OCD have both obsessions and compulsions; 20 percent have only obsessions or compulsions. However, there are a variety of things people with OCD do in response to their obsessions that may not be obvious compulsions. These may include things such as thought suppression, avoidance, brief behavioral maneuvers, and mental neutralizing strategies.
What Causes OCD? OCD is thought by many to be a biologically based disorder. Researchers have identified specific areas of the brain that are affected: the orbitofrontal cortex, cingulate gyrus, and striatum. Brain imaging studies indicate that these areas are overactive in people with OCD. The disorder involves neurotransmitters -- brain chemicals that carry impulses from one nerve cell to another -- that behave abnormally in the affected areas of the brain. Seratonin is one important neurotransmitter involved in the disorder.
Stress alone does not cause OCD; however, a stressful event like the death of a loved one, birth of a child, or divorce can trigger the onset of the disorder. It may be safe to say that a person is born with a genetic predisposition to having OCD, which is often dormant until some stressful event occurs and triggers the OCD into an active phase. It is important for people who have OCD to learn how to deal with stress in healthy ways.