Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder associated with unreasonable thoughts and fears (obsessions) that lead to repetitive behaviors (compulsions) to relieve the anxiety or discomfort of the thought. Obsessive thoughts can range from the loss of control, to ideas about religion, or trying to keep things in order or clean. The compulsive behavior that accompanies the thoughts can manifest itself as repetitive rituals such as constantly washing hands, maintaining order, skin picking, or ticks. Individuals with OCD are more likely to develop chronic hair pulling, tics, and eating disorders and can be predisposed to depression, panic disorder or hypochondria.
With obsessive-compulsive disorder, one may realize that their obsessions aren't reasonable, and may try to ignore them or stop them, however that only increases the distress and anxiety. Ultimately, a sufferer may feel driven to perform compulsive acts in an effort to ease their stressful feelings. Almost all people may have some sort of ritual, such as checking the stove and lights in the house before leaving, (even when you are almost certain the stove is off), but it does not affect or interfere with their work, study or personal relationships as it does with OCD.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for obsessive compulsive disorder is highly effective. This type of therapy focuses on changing thought patterns by altering behavior. Cognitive-behavior therapy teaches the patient to recognize the harmful patterns of thinking and the behavior that goes with it. Along with CBT, exposure and response therapy is also used. The patient will be gradually and purposefully exposed to the obsession which causes fear and asked not to engage in the compulsive behavior. With this type of exposure therapy, the patient should feel less and less anxious as they realize that nothing bad will happen. However, if the OCD is severe, medication may be prescribed along with psychotherapy.
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