Obsessive Compulsive Disorder


Obsessive CompulsiveDisorder

The National Institute of Mental Health (2016) definesobsessive-compulsive disorder as a chronic mental illness in which anindividual experiences uncontrollable thoughts and behaviors thatresult in him/her feeling the urge to do certain things over andover. People who suffer from this disorder experiences obsessivethoughts and compulsive activities. An obsession is unpleasant anduncalled for image or desire that consistently enters an individual’smind resulting in him/her experiencing a feeling of anxiety,uneasiness, and disgust. On the other hand, a compulsion is arepetitive behavior that an individual feels that he/she needs toperform to achieve temporal relief from unpleasant feelings caused bythe obsessive thought. For instance, a person who has an obsessivethought about his/her house being burgled may constantly feel theneed to check the door and window locks several times before leavingthe house (National Institute of Mental Health, 2016).

The cause of the disorder is still unknown to scientists. However,the disease is attributed to the environment, biological factors, andfamily history (Mayo Clinic, 2016). In terms of biological factors,some researchers argue that the disorder is as a result of “changesin the body’s natural chemistry or brain functions” (Mayo Clinic,2016). Regarding family history, some theories maintain that certaininheritable genes cause the disorder. The obsessive-compulsivedisorder may also be triggered by some environmental factors such asinfections. According to Mayo Clinic (2016), some of the risk factorsassociated with the disease include stressful events and other mentaldisorders.

The symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder range from subtle tosevere ones. Some individuals suffering from this disease may spendonly an hour or a day experiencing obsessive-compulsive behaviors andthoughts. On the other hand, some patients end up experiencing theeffects of the disease throughout their entire lives. Some of thecommon symptoms that show that a person is suffering from obsessionsinclude fear of germs, unwanted or forbidden thoughts about harm,religion, and sex. Additionally, a person suffering from obsessionsmay portray aggressive thoughts towards self or others. Suchindividuals also tend to be perfectionists. On the other hand, signsof compulsions include excessive cleaning. It also involves a personensuring that things are done in a specific or precise way. Also,compulsions result in one checking certain things repeatedly.However, certain behaviors should not be confused with compulsions. Ahabit only turns into an obsessive-compulsive disorder if one cannotcontrol the thought or behavior (National Institute of Mental Health,2016).

Despite the causes of the disease remaining unclear, theobsessive-compulsive disorder is treatable. One of the approachesused to treat this disease is the cognitive-behavior therapy. Thisapproach helps a patient understand how his/her behaviors, feelingsand thoughts work together. Additionally, the approach teaches apatient problem-solving, stress management, and realistic thinkingskills. One of the strategies employed by the cognitive-behaviortherapist is the exposure and response prevention technique. Thistechnique helps the patients learn new ways of looking at thecompulsions and obsessions. Apart from the cognitive-behaviortherapy, support groups also play a crucial role in the treatment ofpatients suffering from the obsessive-compulsive disorder. It iscommon for individuals suffering from this disease to feel isolatedand hence, support groups help such patients connect with otherpeople going through similar situations as them. Apart from therapy,the Canadian Mental Health Association (2016) recommends certainbehaviors or action that persons suffering from obsessive-compulsivedisorder may try at their homes to alleviate the symptoms of thedisease. These behaviors include eating well, practicing healthysleep behaviors, and exercising regularly. Besides, one can develop ahabit of challenging his/her anxious thoughts. Apart from counselingand support, there are certain medications that can help treatobsessive-compulsive disorder. Antidepressants are the commonly usedmedicines for the treatment of OCD. However, antianxiety medicationssuch as benzodiazepines may also be used, although they are lesseffective, hence the reason they are hardly used as the priority inthe treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder (Canadian MentalHealth Association, 2016).

In conclusion, obsessive-compulsive disorder is a mental conditioncharacterized by the uncontrollable desire to perform certain tasksregularly. The cause of the disorder is still unknown, althoughcertain factors are known to worsen the condition. This includesgenetic factors, family history, and the environment. The treatmentfor the disease includes therapy as well as the use of certainmedication such as anti-depressants.


Canadian Mental Health Association. (2016). “Obsessive CompulsiveDisorder.” Accessed on September 29, 2016.http://www.cmha.ca/mental_health/obsessive-compulsive-disorder/#.V-ye7CF95dg

Mayo Clinic. (2016). “Obsessive-compulsive disorder.” Accessed onSeptember 29, 2016.http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/obsessive-compulsive-disorder/symptoms-causes/dxc-20245951

National Institute of Mental Health. (2016). “Obsessive-CompulsiveDisorder.” Accessed on September 29, 2016.http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd/index.shtml