Obsessive-compulsive and make no sense, but they can’t

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an illness that traps people in endless
cycles of repetitive thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions). Although
we all have habits and routines that help us organize our daily lives, people
with OCD develop patterns of behavior that take up too much time and interfere
with their daily lives. Obsessions are unwanted and intrusive ideas, images and
impulses that run through the person’s mind over and over again. Sometimes these
thoughts come only once in a while and are only mildly annoying, but at other
times the thoughts come constantly and cause great distress. A compulsion is a
behavior that is performed on purpose in response to an obsession. People
perform these compulsive behaviors according to “rules” they make up
themselves to try to control the nervous feelings that come along with the
obsessive thoughts. Sometimes compulsive behaviors are called rituals. For
example, a person may have a profound fear of germs and spend hours washing his
or her hands after using a public toilet. Rituals like this do make the nervous
feelings go away, but usually only for a short while. Then fear and discomfort
return, and the person repeats the routine all over again. Most people with OCD
know that their obsessions and compulsions are ridiculous and make no sense, but
they can’t ignore them. Most people with OCD experience common obsessions such
as: fear of dirt, germs, or contamination, fear of harming a family member or
friend, concern with order, symmetry (balance) and exactness, worry that a task
has been done poorly, even when the person knows this is not true. Also fear of
thinking evil or sinful thoughts, and A constant need for reassurance are common
obsessions. What Causes OCD? OCD may be connected with an imbalance in a brain
chemical called serotonin. Serotonin serves as a “bridge” in sending
nerve impulses from one nerve cell to the next, and in regulating repetitive
behaviors. The great improvement that people have when they take certain
medicines makes this idea more believable. How can OCD be treated? Behavioral
therapy can be used to lessen unwanted compulsions. First, people are exposed to
the situations that produce obsessions and anxiety, and then they are encouraged
to resist performing the rituals that usually help control the anxiety. Over
time and with practice, OCD symptoms gradually go away. The person with OCD must
really want to use this method, though, to be able to tolerate the high levels
of anxiety that result. Finally, family therapy is a way to educate the
relatives of a person with OCD about their part in the recovery process, and how
to deal with their own feelings of frustration and unhappiness.



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