Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Becca Suchower

What is the characterization or definition of OCD?

         Obsessive compulsive disorder, or OCD, is often classified as an anxiety disorder.  It is defined as a "potentially disabling illness that traps people in endless cycles of repetitive thoughts and behaviors." (WebMD)  People who have this mental illness experience anxiety, fear, or worry, which are temporarily relieved by performing certain obsessive behaviors.  They cannot control their rituals or compulsions, instead, these behaviors end up controlling them.

How many people are affected by OCD?

          OCD affects 2.2 million people in the United States, about 1.0% of the population.  About 1 in every 50 people is affected by OCD.  It equally affects everybody, regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, and background.  Despite the irrational behaviors associated with OCD, it often affects people with above-average intelligence.

How can someone tell if they have OCD?

          OCD is typically evident through the evidence of obsessions and compulsions.  Examples of obsessions include the fear of germs, fear of making mistakes, and a fear of causing harm to others.  People with OCD also have obsessions involving symmetry, order, and exactness.  Examples of compulsions include excessive washing and cleaning, repeatedly checking things, counting or repeating certain numbers or words, and arranging items in a certain way.  Any of these behaviors could indicate that someone has obsessive compulsive disorder.

Obsessive handwashing is a common sign of obsessive compulsive disorder.

What treatments exist to treat OCD?

          Common treatments for OCD are usually behavioral therapy and medication.  Behavioral therapy focuses on helping the patient confront their fears without performing obsessive behaviors.  A type of therapy called exposure and response prevention therapy focuses specifically on this idea, and it is considered the most effective way to deal with OCD.  Another method involves medications, often antidepressants, such as Paxil, Prozac, and Zoloft.

Mr. Monk, from the hit TV show Monk, has an extreme case of OCD, but he deals with it through his detective work.

How can people get help for the treatment of OCD?

          By consulting your doctor, you can learn more about the right kinds of treatment.  Some people benefit the most from therapy, while others have a more successful treatment under medication.  Usually, a combination of the two treatments are most successful for OCD.  Although there is no known cure for OCD, your condition can be greatly improved through different treatment options.

What resources are available to help gain knowledge about OCD? (Sources Cited)

National Institute of Mental Health

About Health

Brain Physics

Anxiety and Depression Association of America



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