Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder that is characterized by unwanted, repetitive, and uncontrollable thoughts. These thought produce apprehension, uneasiness, worry, and fear. It is a disabling and a costly disorder that present in various medical settings, although it is undertreated and under-recognized. Symptoms of this disorder include; excessive cleaning or washing, extreme hoarding, repeated checking, preoccupation with violet, sexual, or religious thoughts, and obsession that are related to relationships. This disorder causes the brain to stick on a particular urge or thought, like a needle getting stuck on an old record. Notably, these symptom can be time-consuming and alienating, more to that, they often cause severe financial an emotional distress. Obsessive-compulsive disorder affects adolescents and children, and adults (Hyman, 2011).
Markedly, Obsessive-compulsive disorder is associated with double checking things. This behavior is common with many people who have a tendency of performing rituals and routines repeatedly. However, healthy people also have rituals, such as checking if the door is shut, or if the gas is off. They tend to do this several times before leaving the house. Unlike healthy people, people with OCD have a formality whereby, they perform these rituals despite interfering with their daily lives. Subsequently, they find this repetition very distressing.
Despite recent advanced research, the exact cause of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is yet to be identified. However, genetics is found to a major role in various cases of OCD. Studies depict that OCD could be as a result of various inherited genes. These genes alter the development of the brain but studies show that there are no specific genes that are coupled with OCD. It is thought that a combination of neurological, genetic, cognitive, behavioral, and environmental factors among many people are the main triggers of OCD. OCD can be considered a family disorder because it runs in families. Additionally, biological causes of OCD are mainly focused on a particular circuit in the brain (Abramowitz, 2009).
The role of this circuit is to regulate primitive aspects of human behavior including; bodily excretions and sexuality. This circuit conveys information from the orbitofrontal cortex in the brain, to the thalamus and the striatum. Ideally, this process is found to take effect habitually among many people. For instance, when people with OCD visit the bathroom, it is difficult for them to leave without washing their hands. This is mainly because, by washing their hands, an impulse from the brain circuit vanishes instantly and they stop washing their hands. Notably, people with OCD find it very difficult to ignore or turn off impulses from this circuit.
Stress does not cause OCD, however, some stressful events such as witnessing an accident, can trigger its onset. In addition, issues at work or at school, and daily hustles contribute to increasing the severity and frequency of a person’s OCD. Despite being linked to genetics, OCD is not linked to upbringing. Instead, it is linked to various factors that could increase one’s chances of developing OCD such as having overprotective parents. Notably, studies show that some young people and children develop OCD after being infected with streptococcal bacteria.
Signs and Symptoms
Generally, a person with OCD has repeated images or thoughts about various things, like fear of dirt, or intruders, hurting loved ones, and acts of violence. Such people cannot control this behavior and other unwanted thoughts. They tend to do these rituals repeatedly and unknowingly. It is a form of stereotype and mindset that cannot be easily changed, because they are not under pressure when performing these rituals and behavior.
OCD can be treated with medication, psychotherapy, or both. Psychotherapy is useful in treating OCD because it teaches the victims various ways of behaving, thinking, and reacting to situations that help them be at ease, and feel less fearful and anxious without acting compulsively, or having obsessive thoughts. For instance, exposure and response prevention is effectual in decreasing compulsive behaviors in OCD. On the other hand, medication also treats OCD. Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications are powerful and are commonly prescribed to OCD patients. They treat depression and OCD in general. However, with cognitive behavior therapy, the majority of people with OCD do better. Besides that, OCD responds well to treatment especially when combined with exposure-based psychotherapy and certain medications (Giddens, 2008).
OCD is a psychological effect that interferes with a person’ normal routine and triggers certain aspects of the body. In most cases, people with OCD usually try to neutralize or actively dismiss obsessions by engaging in activities that cannot trigger obsessions. The exact cause of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is yet to be identified. Genetics is found to a major role in various cases of OCD. Studies depict that OCD could be as a result of various inherited genes. These genes alter the development of the brain but studies show that there are no specific genes that are coupled with OCD. Despite being aware of their compulsions and obsessions, most people with OCD are irrational, but they cannot do anything about it. It is a disabling and a costly disorder that present in various medical settings, although it is undertreated and under-recognized.
Abramowitz, J. S., Taylor, S., & McKay, D. (2009). Obsessive-compulsive disorder. The Lancet, 374(9688), 491-499.
Giddens, S. (2008). Obsessive-compulsive disorder. New York: Rosen.
Hyman, B. M., & Pedrick, C. (2011). Obsessive-compulsive disorder. Minneapolis, MN: Twenty-First Century Books.