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This Month In Health
  • Life Under Compulsion
    For someone with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), thoughts are irrational and force the sufferer to feel a compulsion to do repetitive behaviors in an effort to make the thoughts go away. OCD is a common mental disorder that exhibits itself in various forms. With the right treatment, you can find healing. Read >>
  • Managing Migraine Triggers
    All you want is to be somewhere cool, quiet, and dark. Another migraine has come on, your head is pounding, and you feel sick to your stomach. You wonder if it’s because of something you ate or drank or the recent stress you’re dealing with. Whatever the cause, you just want your headache to go away. Read >>
  • Something Hot to Drink
    Many people have trouble functioning in the morning without their daily dose of coffee or tea. Besides warming you up on a cold day, here are five reasons why you should drink one, two, or five cups of coffee or tea every day and not feel guilty about it. Read >>
  • Inside Crohn’s Disease
    Inflammation is a good thing when your body’s using it to fight off infection, stress, or exposure to harmful chemicals. But sometimes your immune system overreacts and triggers inflammation in healthy tissue. Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) occurs when chronic inflammation affects the digestive system. Read on to learn about one of the most frustrating types of IBD, Crohn’s disease. Read >>
Health and Fitness News

Life Under Compulsion

Know someone with OCD? Here's what he or she is going through.

Someone could break into my house and hurt me and steal my stuff. I better check again to make sure the door is locked.

I touched that dish that could have germs on it that will make me sick. I better wash my hands again to make sure I don't have germs on my hands.
I don't like it when things are out of order. It makes me uncomfortable and I could lose something important. I better arrange the books in perfect order again.

On the surface, these seem like rational thoughts and behaviors, but for someone with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), the thoughts are irrational and you feel a compulsion to do repetitive behaviors in an effort to make the thoughts go away. OCD is a common mental disorder that exhibits itself in various forms. With the right treatment, you can find healing.

Here are the basics on what OCD looks like and how to handle it.

Intrusive Thoughts

It starts with thoughts that come into your mind that you can't get rid of. These intrusive thoughts are like an intruder in your home. You don't want them there, you know they're not supposed to be there, but you feel powerless to make them go away. You begin to obsess about the disturbing thoughts and in an effort to bring relief from them, you perform repeated behaviors. Another analogy is to see the thought as a mosquito bite that itches. As soon as you do the behavior it's like you scratch the itch for temporary relief, only to have the itch return.

If left untreated, OCD usually worsens over time and the behaviors begin to interfere with your quality of life. It's hard to focus on your job, your social life, or taking care of your family when you're continually washing, hoarding, praying, counting, confessing, or checking. Some people with OCD only suffer from obsessive thoughts, while others deal only with compulsive behaviors. OCD is diagnosed in someone who spends at least an hour a day consumed with obsessive-compulsive actions.

Why Me?

Parents of children with OCD may blame their parenting skills. Adults with the disorder may blame themselves, but studies clearly show OCD isn't your fault. Like other anxiety disorders, OCD is often genetic, is associated with an imbalance of chemicals in your brain, or triggered by environmental factors. You're more likely to have obsessive-compulsive disorder if other family members have it or if you've experienced a stressful, traumatic event in your past. Symptoms often worsen during times of stress.

Find Peace Again

OCD isn't something you get over by mustering up enough will power and trying harder. In fact, such tactics usually backfire and make things worse. Healing begins when you accept you've got a problem and seek professional help from a therapist trained in treating OCD. There's no cure, but the earlier treatment is sought, the greater your chance of controlling the symptoms so you can live a normal life. Some people with OCD need ongoing treatment their whole life.

Overcoming intrusive thoughts and unwanted compulsive behaviors requires medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of both. A form of psychotherapy called cognitive-behavioral therapy has proven to be most effective. This therapy involves exposing the person to his or her feared obsession (dirt, knives, a mess) and then teaching healthy methods of coping with the resulting anxiety.

Antidepressants are generally the type of medication tried first. You may have to try several different kinds before finding the one that works for you. It can take weeks or months before you feel relief from your symptoms, even when you find the right medication And as with all medications, those used to treat OCD come with potential side effects, so close monitoring is necessary.