You can try to ignore your attachments, but this will only increase the anxiety and distress your attachments create. Despite efforts to ignore or get rid of the disturbing thoughts or impulses, the obsessions keep coming back. This leads to more repetitive behaviors, which is the vicious cycle of OCD.
OCD often involves specific issues, such as an extreme fear of getting infected. You may feel like you need to wash your hands until they hurt and crack to alleviate your fears of contamination.
What causes obsessive-compulsive disorder?
It is thought that obsessive-compulsive disorder develops due to the deterioration in brain chemistry in general and the lack of healthy stimulation of nerve cells. In addition, obsessive compulsive disorder can be seen in the next generations of people with a family history of the disorder, which indicates that it can also be transmitted genetically.
- Biology: OCD can be the result of changes in your body's own natural chemistry or brain function.
- Genetics: OCD may have a genetic component, but specific genes have yet to be identified.
- Learning: Obsessive fears and compulsive behaviors can be learned by watching family members or gradually over time.
Various health conditions are accepted as risk factors for the development of obsessive compulsive disorder. In this regard, the likelihood of obsessive-compulsive disorder is increased in the following situations:
- Events that cause stress or anxiety
- Events that cause serious psychological trauma
- Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder
- Tourette's syndrome
- Major depressive disorder or depression
- Social anxiety disorder
- Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia
What are the symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder?
The symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder may differ socially and culturally. Common obsessive-compulsive disorder symptoms are evaluated separately as obsessions and compulsions:
Some of the obsessive thoughts that make the person distressed can also be considered symptoms:
- Symmetry and order drive,
- Excessive doubt,
- Need for trust
- Fear of sinful thoughts,
- To be afraid of being disgraced,
- Anxiety about making mistakes,
- Fear of hurting someone else,
- Fear of dirt or germs,
- Compulsion symptoms.
In order to get rid of the obsession, the person may engage in behaviors that are considered abnormal. Some of these behaviors are:
- Not to shake hands,
- Not holding the doorknob,
- Washing hands constantly,
- Accumulating worthless objects,
- Needing to constantly check objects such as locks and irons,
- Consuming meals in a certain order,
- Repeating certain words,
- Counting while doing routine tasks,
- Sorting things in a certain order.
At what age does obsessive-compulsive disorder begin?
Studies show that obsessive-compulsive disorder is detected in 3 out of every 100 people. Although this disorder often starts in adolescence and in the 20s and 30s, it can also be seen in children in the preschool period.
The incidence of OCD is higher in women than in men, but it starts at an earlier age in men.
What are the most common obsessions and reactions to these obsessions?
Although obsessions and compulsions vary from culture to culture, the most common obsessions and compulsions all over the world are as follows:
- Contamination obsession and cleaning compulsion
- Doubtful obsession and control compulsion
- Sexual obsessions
- Religious obsessions
- Symmetry and order obsessions and compulsions
- Touch compulsions
- Counting compulsions
- Collection and storage compulsions
- Superstitions, auspicious unlucky numbers, and colors
Obsessive patients try to cope by avoiding their worrying thoughts. However, as they try to escape, these thoughts increase, and thus the avoidance behavior becomes stronger and stronger. This situation becomes a vicious cycle.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder treatment
There are no laboratory tests to diagnose obsessive-compulsive disorder. The behavior of the patient is monitored by a psychiatrist who is an expert in his field, and the disease is diagnosed by evaluating the symptoms. Early diagnosis is extremely important for the success of treatment. In the treatment process, drug therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy are applied together.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy: The aim of therapy treatment is to prevent patients from reacting to situations in which they are obsessed, to enable them to face their fears, and to reduce their anxiety. The focus is on reducing exaggerated catastrophic thoughts in patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder. It is ensured that the patient is removed from the thoughts that he perceives as real.
Drug therapy: antidepressant drugs and drugs that balance the level of serotonin in the brain are widely used in the treatment of the disease.
Neurosurgery or electroconvulsive therapy is applied to patients who do not get results with these two treatments. Electroconvulsive therapy is an electric shock that causes the patient to have an artificial seizure with the help of electrodes attached to his head. Thanks to the seizures created, the release of neurotransmitters in the brain increases. With regular treatments, the patient can return to a normal life.
What are the duties of the relatives of individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder?
An anxiety state that the person is in also affects the individuals with whom he or she is in a close relationship. Patients with OCD worry that their obsessive thoughts and behaviors may be ostracized when noticed by their environment. This may cause the sick person to avoid sharing how they are feeling. Their families and friends should be aware of the fact that they cannot prevent the person's obsessive thoughts and behaviors and should support them in adapting to the treatment. It is also important to make them feel that they understand and are there for them, rather than questioning the reason for their behavior.
It should not be forgotten that the individual with OCD is also disturbed by their obsessions and engages in repetitive behaviors in order to prevent their anxiety and fears.
People who have uncontrollable obsessive thoughts and reactions related to these thoughts should seek expert support as soon as this situation begins to affect their lives and human relations.