Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), OCD affects nearly 2% of the American population. It is 2-3 times more common than schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
Symptoms of OCD:
OCD is characterized by recurrent, unwanted, and intrusive thoughts called “obsessions.” People suffering from OCD try to stop the obsessive thoughts by indulging in repetitive, purposeful, and intentional behaviors such as repeated handwashing, constant checking and counting which are called “compulsions.” The obsessions and compulsions form a vicious cycle and cause significant stress and anxiety to a person suffering from OCD.
OCD is called as “disease of doubt.” People suffering from OCD generally have persistent self-doubt. They may try to confirm their own words and actions multiple times to get convinced because of self-doubt and an underlying irrational fear. The most troubling fact is that people suffering from OCD clearly know that their fears are irrational but may feel helpless as their mind gets flooded with repeated obsessive thoughts and may indulge in compulsive behaviors to stop the obsessive thoughts. Thus, a constant internal fight takes place inside the mind of the person suffering from OCD.
OCD is a psychiatric condition that wreaks havoc on the lives of people. The quality of life is significantly reduced. The symptoms of OCD are mostly hidden by patients in order to avoid embarrassment. Children in their teens suffer the most. OCD may significantly disrupt their performance in school. Students who had been scoring very good grades may lose grades and many students even quit school because of OCD.
Stress increases the symptoms of OCD. Examination stress generally increases the symptoms of OCD. Students suffering from OCD may check their answer sheets repeatedly and at times suffer from obsessive thoughts in the middle of exam and may leave the examination without answering half of the question paper due to persistent obsessive thoughts.
Can you imagine the emotional pain of these children? Can the student openly tell to the teacher and students that OCD was the real reason for leaving half of the question paper unanswered or that his own obsessive thoughts had stopped him to write halfway through the exam? The debilitating nature of OCD is not fully understood or acknowledged by people. This again causes significant anxiety to a person suffering from OCD. A supportive society can go a long way in helping people suffering from OCD.
Treatment for OCD:
OCD can be treated effectively with medications. Psychiatrists generally prescribe antidepressant medications to treat OCD symptoms. Most of the people suffering from OCD return to normal life after taking medications. Psychiatric medications should never be discontinued without permission of the psychiatrist. Discontinuing medications abruptly may aggravate OCD symptoms. SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are a class of antidepressants that are found very effective in treating OCD. Prozac and Zoloft are some examples of SSRI medications.
Medication combined with meditation has been found to be highly successful in treating OCD. Silent meditation early in the morning relaxes and energizes the nervous system. Meditation empowers your mind and daily practice of meditation along with medication can correct the chemical imbalance in the brain. Empower your mind with motivating thoughts and defeat OCD.
Have a great day.