Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a chronic and debilitating mental disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. People with OCD experience intrusive thoughts, images, and impulses that can cause significant anxiety and distress. These intrusive thoughts often lead to compulsive behaviours or rituals which are aimed at reducing the anxiety caused by the obsessive thoughts.
In this article, we’ll discuss the symptoms, causes, and treatment options available for OCD.
Symptoms of OCD
The symptoms of OCD vary from person to person but the core features of it are obsessions and compulsions.
Obsessions are recurring thoughts, images, or impulses that are unwanted and distressing. These can include: fear of contamination, fear of harming others, fear of losing control, and fear of being responsible for a terrible occurrence.
Compulsions are repetitive behaviours that a person feels compelled to perform to alleviate the anxiety and distress caused by obsessions. These can include: excessive cleaning, checking, counting, and repeating prayers or mantras.
While compulsive behaviours can cause temporary relief, in the long run they can interfere with a person’s daily life and cause significant distress.
Causes of OCD
While the exact cause of OCD is not understood, research suggests that OCD may be caused due to a complex combination of factors such as:
Genetics: OCD may run in the family, suggesting a genetic link. However, no single gene has been identified as the cause of the disorder.
Brain Chemistry: Research has shown that people diagnosed with OCD have slight variations in their brain chemistry, particularly in the levels of serotonin.
Environmental Factors: Traumatic events, abuse, illness, or stress can trigger symptoms of OCD in some people.
Treatments available for OCD
OCD is a treatable mental health condition. Following are some of the common treatments available for OCD:
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT): CBT helps people identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviours by helping them develop new coping skills and approaching their obsessive thoughts in a new way. Effective behavioural therapies like exposure and response prevention (ERP) lead to habituation of anxiety associated with obsessions so that rituals are no longer necessary to reduce anxiety.
Medication: Antidepressants such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are commonly prescribed to treat OCD. They work by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain, which can help reduce obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours.
Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (dTMS): Deep TMS therapy is a US FDA approved treatment that uses magnetic pulses to stimulate the frontal and prefrontal regions of the brain. Deep TMS has been shown to be effective in reducing the symptoms of OCD, particularly in those people who haven’t responded well to medication and/or other treatments.
Deep brain stimulation and psychosurgery are other treatment options available to treat extreme OCD.
OCD is a chronic mental disorder in which symptoms can be managed with the right treatment, thus leading to an improved quality of life. If you or someone you know is experiencing the symptoms of OCD, seek professional help at the earliest for an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment.
At Asha Neuromodulation Clinics (ANC), we're the pioneers in India to provide Deep TMS therapy. We use this cutting-edge treatment to help people with OCD, anxiety, depression, and nicotine dependence. Our goal is to help everyone live their best lives.