Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common anxiety related disorder that affects individuals across different cultures. According to Stoppler (2012), the obsessions that mark the onset of this problem include a series of unwanted thoughts that are usually disturbing to the victim and cause feelings of unease. Such obsessive thoughts may be repetitive among individuals and thereby prompt the victims to undertake some compulsive behaviors in their pursuit to heal the condition. Compulsions mostly include the habit of repeating the same thing for a couple of times. This form of disorder may be mild or severe, depending on the degree of anxiety. Whenever an individual’s OCD condition is mild, they may be able to control their compulsive actions such that other people are unable to notice. However, severe conditions of OCD are normally alarming and victims are usually incapable of hiding their compulsive behaviors (Stoppler, 2012). The obsessive-compulsive disorder has different causes and symptoms through which it can be diagnosed. Moreover, the disorder can be dealt with by physicians through different forms of treatments normally aimed at relieving victims from the agony it causes.
There are a number of factors that lead to OCD. To begin with, the disorder may be inherited biologically from parents to their children. According to the WebMD (2012), OCD may result depending on how the nerve cells are located within one’s brain coordinate with each other. The nerve cells which are simply referred to as neurons communicate through electric signals that are facilitated by neurotransmitters, a special chemical through which the signals pass from one neuron to another. Consequently, OCD develops among individuals, whenever there is a link between slight levels of one neurotransmitter, commonly known as serotonin (WebMD, 2012). The inheritance of the disorder occurs whenever parents pass the serotonin imbalance to their offspring and begins to show during their growth period. Compulsions always result in remedial measures, aimed at seeking relief for the uncontrollable obsessions that occur among people. OCD may also be caused by the thoughts and images that occur, following the death of a loved one. In such situations, compulsive behaviors may occur, depending on the thoughts one has about what could have caused the death and people may begin practicing some rituals that include tidying everything in a bid to avoid contamination.
Kelly (2010) argues that OCD may also result from cognitive and behavioral issues. For instance, individuals who are susceptible to the disorder find it difficult to avoid certain thoughts although they realize that the thoughts are risky and have to be ignored. In these cases, OCD results from the mental incapability to avoid thinking in a certain way and the adoption of a recurring behavior through which victims feel relieved. Whenever individuals are obsessed about contamination, they may result to periodical washing of their hands in a compulsive move to relief their minds (Kelly, 2010). OCD may also result from depression. Individuals who live under depression and stressful conditions normally have high chances of developing the obsessive-compulsive disorder. Likewise, people with OCD are most likely to develop depression. As a result, depressed individuals find it difficult to overcome their bad thoughts without the help of physicians and their obsessions end up causing some compulsive behaviors that tend to be inevitable causing severe trauma in their lives.
Certain infections, such as streptococcus are known to cause OCD (WebMD, 2012). Streptococcal infections, especially those affecting the throat result to cellular damages due to the confusion on healthy cells caused by the infecting bacteria. Whenever streptococcus occurs within the brain, nerve cells are likely to fight with other defense cells within the body resulting to the obsessive-compulsive disorder. Victims of OCD behave in peculiar ways that may cause societal disarray and are most likely to find difficulties socializing with other people due to their inability to keep focus on specific issues. OCD might result from interactions with the environment and is caused by the adherence to certain behaviors or habits that are learnt within societies. For instance, people born of religious parents may develop a habit of thinking on religious matters most of their times. Such people find it difficult to interact freely with others without bringing about spiritual concerns and references to the holy books. Obsessions caused by individual devotion to certain ways of life, such as worshipping may lead to compulsive acts like singing and fear to commit sins.
The symptoms of OCD vary according to the obsessions and compulsions witnessed among individuals. The Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (2012) asserts that some of the obsessions common among people believed to have the obsessive-compulsive disorder include fear and doubt whenever they are doing certain activities. People suffering from obsessions may be identified by their lack of concentration and hair loss through scratching of their heads. People may have fear to make certain advances or remain doubtful of their deeds, unsure whether they have done something they should have done. For instance, they may fail to acknowledge whether they have closed doors, feel sorry for themselves especially when they have done something they believe has hurt others and fail to be sure whether they have given correct details in situations, where account numbers are required or names are supposed to be written in exam booklets.
Other symptoms include some habits that may be annoying such as repetitive watching of pornographic materials to extents, where victims are unable to control themselves. Individuals may also be afraid of shaking hands or holding certain objects believed to be hazardous for the fear of contracting diseases. The beliefs that things should always be organized in an orderly manner may be clear signs of OCD, especially in situations where individuals fail to comply with certain requirements, unless some adjustments are made. People may be afraid to behave in a way that they believe would be embarrassing or carry out particular obligations whenever things do not fall in the exact order they recognize (WebMD, 2012). Most of these obsessions are evident through interactions, since majority of people are usually unable to hide them.
The common symptoms for compulsion include excessive acts or habits done in quest of reprieve. According to the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, much of the compulsive symptoms comprise of actions by individuals to attain surety and self-belief and may include checking things thoroughly to ensure that whatever was intended is achieved. For instance, people may check whether they have closed their doors severally to avoid the recurrence of obsessive feelings and thoughts that things could be in a mess. People may develop the habit of washing their hands, until they are justified that all dirt has been removed (Stoppler, 2012). The desire to attain order and symmetry may also force them to assemble things in a certain way, such as arranging objects facing the same direction or in a specific order such as ascending or descending manner. Some of the individuals who have developed the OCD through environmental factors such as getting accustomed to particular religious beliefs may lead to individuals singing uncontrollably in public or repeating certain words or phrases to ensure that they feel at ease. For most cases, the symptoms are likely to be openly identifiable, since much of the compulsions are repeated in a way that may even hinder ones sociability.
There are a number of ways through which OCD victims may be treated. At its initial stages and when the disorder is mild, psychotherapy is normally recommendable for individuals suffering from OCD. Behavioral therapy comprises the exposure of OCD victims to the anxiety causing stimuli to help them overcome the obsessions (Grohol, 2010). This technique requires that individuals are first helped to attain some coping skills that may include breath moderation and muscle relaxation to reduce their anxiety. The cognitive-behavioral therapy is normally centered towards strengthening a victim’s cognitive capabilities to ensure that they attain mental strength to only keep in mind things that are of help and avoid any feelings of fear and self-disbelief. Through psychotherapy, individuals are helped to avoid the practice of certain rituals by motivating them to resist their compulsive urges for longer times (Stoppler, 2012). It helps people to avoid cases of doubtfulness and excessive obsessions.
Medication is another form through which OCD suffers may get treated. According to Stoppler (2012), the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are usually important, the victims show especially severe cases of the obsessive-compulsive disorder. SSRIs counter the serotonin imbalance in the brain that is instrumental in causing OCD among individuals, especially when they have low level neurotransmitter. Moreover, the inhibitors activate the cells that had been weakened by the disorder thereby relieving individuals from the repetitive anxiety feelings. In some cases such as in children, antibiotics may help them to prevent severe obsessive thoughts if they are used to heal some infectious diseases that are diagnosed at early stages. Whenever expecting, mothers are diagnosed with low serotonin, the administering of the SSRIs to their children may help to protect them from the disorder.