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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)


What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

Inside This Issue
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Definition Characteristics Prevalence Treatment Techniques Resources

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or OCD is defined by the Mayo Clinic as an anxiety disorder characterized by unreasonable thoughts and fears (obsessions) that lead you to do repetitive behaviors (compulsions). With obsessive-compulsive disorder, you may realize that your obsessions arent reaso nable, and you may try to ignore them or stop them; but that only increases your distress and anxiety. Ultimately, you feel driven to perform compulsive acts in an effort to ease your stressful feelings. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder often centers on themes, such as a fear of getting contaminated by germs. To ease your contamination fears, you may compulsively wash your hands until theyre sore and chapped. Despite your efforts, thoughts of obsessive- compulsive behavior keep coming back. This leads to more ritualistic behavior- and a vicious cycle thats characteristic of obsessive- compulsive disorder, continued from the Mayo Clinic.

What are the characteristics of OCD?

You may realize your obsessions arent reasonable OCD is characterized by two major themes: obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are described, by, as ideas, images, and impulses that run through a persons mind over and over again. These thoughts are often uncontrollable and vary in frequency between cases of individuals with OCD. Compulsions are described as behaviors or otherwise called rituals that are performed in accordance to a certain system of rules particular to a person. These behaviors are enacted in order to suppress feelings of anxiety brought on my obsessive thoughts. An example of a common Obsessive-Compulsive thought and action process would be a person obsessive with remaining germ free. This individuals might feel extreme anxiety about touching things that might have germs on them. In order to combat this anxiety, this person might frequently wash their hands. In this scenario, the thoughts about being contaminated by germs are the obsessions while the actions of continuously washing their hands are the compulsions.



How prevalent is OCD?

OCD is prevalent in both women and men of all ages and affects 2-3% of the U.S population. On average, males ted to develop obsessions and compulsions earlier in age than women do. Males typically experience the characteristics of OCD between the ages of 6-15 while females experience these characteristics between 13-20 years of age. According to The OCD Education Station, In clinical samples, however, OCD is found more often among Caucasian than minorities. This may be due to the underrepresentation of minorities in clinical studies. OCD is more prevalent in recent times than it was 10-20 years ago because more is known about this particular neurobiological disorder than before. Formally, OCD was not readily diagnosed because little was known about it.

OCD is more prevalent in recent times than it was 10-20 years ago

Can OCD be treated?

Although there is no defined cure for OCD there are some treatments that if followed carefully can help to bring control and maintenance for obsessions and compulsions. The two main treatments as described by the Mayo Clinic are psychotherapy and medications. A form of psychotherapy used to treat OCD is cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT. CBT requires intensive training to combat anxious thoughts that might lead to compulsions. Psychiatric medications are also used to control characteristics of OCD. Many forms of antidepressants are effective in treatment because they increase levels of serotonin which are commonly lacking in individuals with OCD.

How can I effectively teach/work with individuals with OCD?

The first step in working with/ teaching an individual with OCD is to recognize their specific obsessions and compulsions and realize that these are very real and present. Next it is important to respect their rituals in order to make them feel comfortable. Finally, it is helpful to formulate a treatment plan specific to that individual that is manageable to all people involved to help that individual cope and manage their obsessions and compulsions.



What are some support resources for individuals/ families dealing with OCD?
There are several websites that are freely available to individuals seeking to learn not only more about what OCD is but also ways to support someone dealing with OCD as well as yourself. Among hundreds of websites some that I personally recommend include Defines what OCD is, lists possible symptoms, causes, risk factors, and complications associated with the disorder, provides tips on how to prepare for an appointment discussing OCD, describes possible tests given to diagnose OCD, lists possible treatments and drugs as well as potential home remedies, and provides suggestions on coping and supporting individuals with OCD. Understanding Obsessive Compulsive Details what the disorder is including an in-depth analysis of obsessions and compulsions, offers possible treatment tactics, and offers personal testimonies of individuals with/ working with OCD. Includes facts about OCD, depicts the role of school personnel in relation to students with OCD, and describes ways to recognize OCD within a school setting and how it affects students both academically and socially. In addition to websites, many books are available to provide personal perspective into individuals living with OCD and the struggles they encounter. Some of these particular types of autobiographical books include: Everything In Its Place: My Trials and Triumphs with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder by Marc Summers The Other Side of Darkness by Melody Carlson Finally, many support groups can be offered to both individuals with/ families of individuals with OCD. Finding support groups in your area can be done through the website. Individuals can type in their location (city, state, zip code) and they will be provided with a list of support groups available to them. Some support groups closest to Champaign, IL 61820 include: PANDAS Parent Support Illinois located in Pontiac, IL Young Adult OCD Support Group located in West Lafayette, IN OCD Support Group located in Indianapolis, IN



Sources used
"OCD Education Station." OCD Education Station. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Dec. 2012. <>. Staff, Mayo Clinic. "Obsessive-compulsive Disorder (OCD)." Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 15 Dec. 2010. Web. 04 Dec. 2012. <>. "Understanding Obsessive Compulsive Disorder." Understanding Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Dec. 2012. <>. "Who We Are." International OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) Foundation. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Dec. 2012. <>.