OCD Obsessive Compulsive Disorder; do you have any issue with saving or hording junk? Do you often check the doors at home to make sure they are locked at night more than once? How about the same with checking to make sure the appliances are off, the stove isn’t on, and the plumbing has stopped running. Do you find yourself having to count a certain number of times before you stop? This list is far from exhaustive, suffice it to say that any thought pattern or behavior that is enslaving could be one of many symptoms of OCD.
OCD – Symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Do you ever leave the house and have to come back home because you want to make sure the garage door is down or check to see of the doors are locked? If so, you might have OCD. This condition is characterized by obsessive thoughts of harm to you or your family, your assets; and ultimately take control of your life.
Do you often ponder the question: When do I need to see a psychiatrist?
Often entertaining the question about seeking psychiatric help or when do I need to see a psychiatrist is the best indicator that you should seek a psychiatric evaluation. You and your family become slaves to OCD, even as nerve-racking as these compulsions are, you can’t seem to break free from the thoughts or the behaviors. OCD has been considered a form of anxiety; however, there has been some consideration to reclassifying it as a separate illness in the DSMV.
OCD is a form of anxiety, and the obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors are only the symptoms of a chemical imbalance. We see this disorder running in families and causes are believed to be either genetic or learned behavior. Regardless, the brain chemistry needs to be dealt with in order to treat the condition. Genetics can most certainly be the cause of OCD but understand that children’s minds are like “sponges” and more impressionable than most of us can imagine. Our brains are not yet fully developed as young children and being exposed to a parent who exhibits the obsessive compulsive behavior can possibly be assimilated into the thought processes of the child’s brain. Later in life when this child is subjected repeated stress, he or she might find comfort in resorting to compulsive behaviors to mollify the feelings and regain control in their lives. It also could be genetics and a issue with one’s brain chemistry whereby the environment is secondary to the genetic predisposition, regardless the treatment and therapy are almost identical.
Most people will exhibit some sort of compulsive behavior at some time in their lives whether it be collecting, counting, cleaning or some other behavior. When the thoughts and behaviors begin to interfere with your life or occupy more than an hour of your day, it’s time to seek help.
OCD in Minor Situations Can Sometimes be Resolved by Behavior Modification
Minor cases of OCD can often be overcome by behavior modification and learning to cope with OCD. If you have driven yourself crazy by repeatedly driving back home to check the doors, appliances…you can train yourself to ignore these thoughts. Sometimes it is as simple as telling yourself “I have homeowners insurance– and keep driving!” You will notice that within minutes of that decision the obsessive thought will have left your mind. Sometimes these are valid concerns; however, if you do it to excess, chances are that they are obsessional thoughts and need to be ignored.
Some of the most effective medical treatments for OCD are the SSRIs, often after six to eight weeks of the medication the obsessive thoughts and ensuing compulsive behaviors should significantly subside. Unfortunately the individual is not seeing results fast enough – so he or she stops taking the medication or implores the doctor to change medications. Remember that if these thoughts and behaviors have been a part of your life for several years; it might take some time to “break the habit”, additionally it takes time for the medication to reach the therapeutic levels. In treating OCD, we need to typically use higher doses of the SSRIs to get the desired effect over longer periods of time than the usual four to six weeks to treat depression. Give the medication time; but realize with time you will notice that your thoughts and behaviors start to change for the positive. Usually the thoughts will subside and other times you will have to confront them and make peace with them. Learn to identify and differentiate the difference between a justifiable fear or thought and an obsessive thought that your mind has manufactured. Someday through genetic engineering we might have a cure for OCD, Anxiety, and Depression, but until then; medication, cognitive behavior therapy seem to be the best ways to deal with this condition.
Needless to say, every individual is different and therefore different medications and behavior modifications will work differently on OCD. Please don’t give up hope. This condition can be overcome! As a Scottsdale psychiatrist I typically have good results and I love treating this condition. Read more about OCD.