Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Essay, Research Paper
?I know my hands are clean. I know that I have touched nothing dangerous. But? I doubt my perception. Soon, if I do not wash, a mind numbing, searing anxiety will cripple me. A feeling of stickiness will begin to spread from the point of contamination and I will be lost in a place I do not want to go. So I wash until the feeling is gone, until the anxiety subsides. Then I feel defeated. So I do less and less, my world becomes smaller and smaller and more lonely by the day? (Healthy Place: OCD Community). The writer of this poem has a disease call Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). In OCD, it is as though the brain gets stuck on a particular thought or urge and just can’t let go. OCD can persist throughout a person?s life, gradually worsening. If not treated, OCD can drastically affect all aspects of a person?s life: work, school, friends, and family (Weiskopf).
Worries, doubts, and superstitious beliefs all are common in everyday life. However, when they become so excessive as to interrupt one?s daily life, then the diagnosis is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a disorder that is not commonly heard of, but surprisingly it affects 2% of the population, more than those with severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder (Plexus Staff). OCD is an anxiety disorder that manifests itself through obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are unwanted, overwhelming, recurrent, and unpleasant thoughts. Dr. John R. Smith says, ? The obsessions are recurrent thoughts, which an OCD sufferer experiences as being outside their control, although they know those thoughts are coming from their own mind.? (McShane 14). A person with OCD might constantly repeat a thought in their head, which can be triggered by an external or internal object. Some common obsessions include repeated impulses to kill a loved family member, incessant worries about dirt or contamination, and recurrent thoughts about something that has not been done properly. A person with these constant thoughts understands that they are senseless, but ignoring them is very difficult. For example, a person with an obsession about contamination might have a thought like ?Don?t touch that door knob, it might spread a disease,? or “My hands may be contaminated–I must wash them.? These types of persistent thoughts might enter a person?s mind suddenly or very gradually. The obsessions intrude into the consciousness of the person, disrupting their normal thinking and behavior (Silvia 2).
These intrusions can only be banished by the performance of compulsive rituals. Compulsions are repeated, purposeless, and elaborately time-consuming behaviors that are usually performed in response to an obsession. The behaviors are an attempt to neutralize or prevent a dreadful event from happening. Some common compulsions include excessive hand washing, showering, checking, counting, and hoarding. Compulsions can be thoughts or physical behaviors that may or may not be set to some self-imposed rules. The person realizes that their compulsions are senseless and irrational, but do not stop because they are worried about the consequences that may follow (Penzel 5). If ignored, compulsions can cause serious panic attacks. But the sad thing about it is that doing the rituals do not help; they only make things worse (Cronin).
Currently, there are a number of disorders that can be labeled as an Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Among these is Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD). BDD is where a person has obsessive thoughts about his or her body, looking for abnormalities. They then spend hours examining the ?defective? body part and may never leave home because of their embarrassment. Another OCD disorder is Trichotillomania (TTM). A person with TTM compulsively pulls out hairs from their head, arms, legs, eyebrows, and pubic area. TTM sufferers spend hours searching until the ?perfect hair? is found. They often feel driven to pull out their hairs because they think that their hairs are imperfect. Tourette?s Syndrome is another OCD disorder where the patient is subjected to uncontrollable motor activities. The person may blink, twitch, jerk their head, or repeat obscene words or noises uncontrollably. Some others include Kleptomania, Anorexia, and Binge Eating (Penzel 5-13). The list of OCD disorders goes on and on, but the one thing that they all have in common are unwanted obsessions and/or compulsions.
As of now, there is no firm theory that explains the exact cause of OCD. However, there is some evidence that OCD has a genetic basis because in many cases OCD has been found in children. Actually 1/3 of all OCD cases began in childhood (?Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Part I). Recent studies have found that the disorder may be neurobiological. By scanning the brain, researchers have found abnormalities in the frontal lobe of an OCD sufferer?s brain. Research suggests that OCD involves problems in communication between the frontal lobe of the brain and the deeper structures. These structures use a chemical messenger known as Seretonin to communicate. It is believed that insufficient levels of Seretonin are involved in OCD (Penzel 311 ).
The good new is that most Obsessive-Compulsive sufferers can be successfully treated. There are two forms of treatment that can be combined to give the best results. For some patients, medication works well in helping calm and control obsessions. The most effective drug to help treat OCD is Clomipramine (Anafranil). Other drugs include Fluoxetine (Prozac), Fluvoxamine (Luvax), Sertraine (Zoloft), or Paroxetine (Paxi) (?Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Part II?). The second treatment is known as Behavioral Therapy. Behavioral therapy concentrates on the problematic behavior. The patient is exposed to whatever triggers their compulsive behavior. For example, a person who has obsessions about being contaminated and compulsions that include constant hand washing may be asked to remain in contact with a dirty object. The patient is then prevented from giving into their compulsions, or washing their hands as expressed in the example. Through repetition of this process the patient learns that ignoring the compulsions will not result in a negative, but rather, a positive outcome. Their anxiety is also reduced as time goes on (Weiskopf). Surgery is a last resort when all other forms of treatment fail.
In short, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, which has been around since the 17th century, is an anxiety disorder that is characterized by obsessions and compulsions. The disorder can be disabling and if left untreated can destroy a person?s capacity to function. Living with OCD can be extremely disruptive. It affects self-image, relationships and the normal routines of daily life. Many feel a pressure to keep the problem a secret, to cover it up so others don?t shun them or jump to the conclusion that they?re insane. They know their thoughts and compulsions are irrational and appear crazy. Many would ask, ?Why don?t they just stop over-thinking and giving into their compulsion?? ? ?The core part of the problems is that the individual needs to be absolutely certain about something?. Explained Grayson. ?The problem is that they are to smart to be certain. For every logical answer there is a what if? ? (Vendantam). OCD is not a disorder where the sufferer can simply stop. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a dysfunction in the brain, just like a heart attack is a dysfunction of the heart (Cronin).
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