Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder that affects millions every year. Though people with this disorder may just seem eccentric, inside they feel like a slave to their obsessive thoughts and compulsive rituals. In order to break down the stigma and myths surrounding OCD, here are some facts about the disorder you might not have known.
Many people think that obsessions and compulsions are just interchangeable terms. These two things are actually different, but link together to create a sort of vicious cycle. Obsessions are pervasive thoughts that can cause severe anxiety, while compulsions are actions taken to reduce the anxiety caused by the obsessive thoughts. It creates a dangerous cycle that people suffering with OCD find hard to break. For example, an individual with this disorder might have obsessive thoughts about getting sick and dying, so they compulsively wash their hands several times every hour.
It can be hard for people with mental disorders to recognize the symptoms they’re experiencing. But with OCD, most people who have it have some insight into their condition. They recognize the irrationality and excessiveness of their thoughts and actions. Having this insight is actually one of the most frustrating parts of this disorder, as people know what they’re doing isn’t rational, yet they can’t stop it.
When it comes to mental health issues, some effect men or women more. However, with obsessive compulsive disorder, males and females experience this condition with similar frequency. The age at which someone develops the disorder can depend on their gender though. Both females and males are equally as likely to develop OCD following puberty, but men are more likely to develop it during childhood than women.
Doctors have long wondered what causes obsessive compulsive disorder. So far they’ve found evidence that both nature and nurture play a factor. Having a family member with obsessive compulsive disorder increases one’s risk of developing the same condition, suggesting that genetics play a role. There is also believed to be a relationship between obsessive and compulsive symptoms and irregularities in brain structure. Traumatic events can also cause OCD. Experiencing stressful or traumatic events can increase one’s risk. Events like sexual abuse, childhood abuse, or the death of a loved one are common catalysts for the development of OCD.
OCD symptoms usually start during adolescence and early adulthood, but children as young as 4 can be affected. Typically, people are diagnosed with the disorder around the age of 19. As we said, gender can impact the age at which symptoms begin to appear, with more young boys developing it in childhood than young girls. Although rare, OCD can also develop in late adulthood.
While OCD can be a debilitating condition, the good news is that it can be treated effectively, which the proper combination of psychiatry, medication, and behavioral therapy. If you think you or a loved one may be suffering from OCD, contact us to arrange for an initial consultation to see how we can help you.