Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, commonly referred to as OCD, is an anxiety disorder characterized by unwanted, repetitive thoughts called obsessions and excessive, uncontrolled, ritualistic behaviors described as compulsions. The sufferer derives no pleasure from engaging in these behaviors. Although there may be momentary relief from engaging in the behavior, increasing anxiety results when the sufferer cannot engage in these behaviors.
Many otherwise mentally healthy people identify with the symptoms of OCD. For example, many of us check the stove several times prior to leaving the house. But for sufferers of OCD, these activities are distressing, take up at least one hour of time per day and interfere with many other activities of living. These behaviors become necessary to neutralize the sufferer’s feelings of anxiety.
Although the individual with OCD realizes that the thoughts and behaviors are senseless, they feel completely essentially powerless to thwart the impulses.
OCD occurs in about 2 percent of Americans The disease occurs in children, teenagers, adults and seniors, although sometimes the individual does not realize that the behavior being exhibited is maladaptive until others point it out. If the symptoms become sufficiently severe, the person may be unable to attend school or work and functioning may become significantly impaired.
OCD generally responds well to a combination of psychotherapy and medication. The psychotherapy is often cognitive-behavioral, with an attempt to focus on both the dysfunctional thoughts and behaviors. Medications most commonly prescribed for anxiety disorders may include SSRI’s (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), tricyclics, benzodiazepines and beta-blockers.
Having information from reliable sources can usually help in decreasing the anxiety related to OCD. For additional information on OCD, you may want to consult some of the following resources.
Anxiety Disorders Association of America
8730 Georgia Ave., Suite 600
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Association for Advancement of Behavior Therapy (AABT)
305 7th Avenue, 16th floor
New York, NY 10001
Freedom from Fear
308 Seaview Avenue
Staten Island, NY 10305
Obsessive Compulsive Foundation (OCF)
676 State Street
New Haven, CT 06511
Trichotillomania Learning Center
303 Potrero #51
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Center for Mental Health Services
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Rm. 12-105 Parklawn Building
Rockville, MD 20857
National Institute of Mental Health
Office of Communications
6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 8184, MSC 9663
Bethesda, MD 20892-9663
Toll Free: 1-866-615-NIMH (6464)