Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a type of anxiety disorder characterized by repetitive behaviors spurred by unreasonable fears. In some cases, OCD sufferers may be plagued with just the behaviors (compulsions) or just the fears (obsessions).
Both the behaviors and the fears appear to be impossible control. People with OCD tend to have a higher risk for substance use disorders, since they might use drugs or alcohol in an effort to mask their symptoms. The good news is there are effective treatment options for OCD that can help sufferers manage their symptoms and enjoy a higher quality of life.
Symptoms of OCD
Obsessive symptoms of OCD might include:
Fear of contamination by dirt or germs
Doubts about performing simple actions like turning off the stove or locking the door
Disturbing, recurring thoughts about yelling out obscenities or acting in other inappropriate ways
Distress about unpleasant sexual images or images of harming yourself or others
Significant stress when objects are not even or in proper order
Compulsive behaviors may occur on their own or in response to one or more of the obsessions listed above. Some symptoms of compulsive behavior include:
Cleaning and washing yourself or things
Counting objects or counting is specific patterns
Checking things like the stove, iron or doors repeatedly
Arranging objects to face the same way
Fear of losing things or not having things you need
Repeating words or behaviors to reduce anxiety
Symptoms tend to worsen over time and can be exacerbated when you are under stress. The onset of OCD often occurs in adolescence, but can occur even earlier.
Treatment for OCD
Although OCD is not typically “cured,” treatment can help to significantly reduce symptoms and improve the quality of life for OCD sufferers. There are two primary treatments for OCD:
A number of different types of medication may be used to treat OCD, but the most common is antidepressants like Prozac or Zoloft. In some cases, a number of different medications may need to be tried to determine which one offers the best possible results. In some cases, a combination of medications might be recommended.
The most effective therapy for OCD is exposure and response prevention or ERP. This therapy consists of gradual exposure to the source of the fear or obsession, with the purpose of finding healthy ways to cope. Therapy can be performed in individual, group or family settings.
OCD and Substance Abuse
According to data in the Journal of Anxiety Disorders, approximately one-fourth of patients diagnosed with OCD also meet the criteria for a substance use disorder diagnosis. Individuals that develop OCD during their childhood or teen years are more likely to eventually abuse substances as a means of coping with the symptoms of the disorder. Treating either OCD or a substance use disorder without addressing the other condition at the same time can be ineffective. It is important to select a treatment facility experienced in treating a dual diagnosis to ensure the best possible results. To learn more, contact Treatment Now.