Rehab Centers for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder OCD
Obsessive compulsive disorder, commonly referred to as OCD, is a neurological disorder that causes unwanted thoughts and worries, or obsessions, that lead to repetitive behaviors, or compulsions. While it is normal for people to sometimes double check if they’ve locked their door, or to make sure they shut the oven off, someone with OCD may check these things repeatedly or have specific routines at rituals they have to go through to do things. The symptoms of OCD get in the way of everyday life and cause a considerable amount of distress for people.
People with obsessive compulsive disorder are sometimes aware that their obsessions and compulsions are irrational or excessive, but they lack control over them. However, most people who suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder do not believe that their thoughts or actions are irrational and once they do realize that what they are doing is irrational they have increased anxiety regarding the realization. Obsessions refer to frequent upsetting thoughts, and compulsions refer to the overwhelming urge to repeat certain rituals or behaviors. One common example of obsessive-compulsive behavior is for an individual who becomes obsessed with germs or dirt to compulsively and repetitively wash their hands.
Thankfully for people suffering from the disorder, there are treatments for OCD. Rehab centers for obsessive compulsive disorder use medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two to help people suffering from the disorder experience relief. For some people OCD gets so severe that it interferes in their daily life and makes normal functioning difficult. Treatment can help these cases, too.
In this page you’ll learn about:
- OCD symptoms
- Diagnosing obsessive compulsive disorder
- What causes OCD
- Treatment for obsessive compulsive disorder
Signs and Symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
People with obsessive compulsive disorder experience a variety of obsessions and compulsions that interfere with their everyday lives. It is not uncommon for a person with the disorder to become demoralized or depressed, and feelings of anxiety, disgust, or intense discomfort are common.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, some common symptoms of OCD include:
- Repeated thoughts or images about different things, may be fear of germs, dirt, or intruders, acts of violence, hurting loved ones, sexual acts, conflicts with religious beliefs, or being overly tidy
- Repeating the same rituals over and over. Examples of this are washing hands, locking and unlocking doors, counting, keeping unneeded items, or repeating the same steps again and again
- Inability to control unwanted thoughts and behaviors
- Don’t necessarily experience pleasure from performing behaviors or rituals but experience brief relief from the anxiety caused by the thoughts
- Spending at least one hour each day on the thoughts and rituals, which are distressing and get in the way of everyday life
The National Alliance on Mental Health provides the following examples of behavior in people with OCD:
- Repeatedly checking things before feeling secure enough to leave the house, such as the door to see if it’s locked and the stove to be sure it’s off.
- Fear they will harm others. For example, someone who drives over a pothole may actually think they hit someone and go back to check and see.
- Feeling dirty and contaminated. Someone with this obsession may not touch their baby for fear of causing infection, or may repeatedly wash their hands.
- Constantly order and arrange things. For example, someone may not be able to sleep before ordering their shoes.
- Being ruled by numbers. Some people with OCD believe that certain numbers are evil and others are good, and may avoid circumstances that involve certain numbers.
- Being excessively concerned with sin or blasphemy in a way that is not the norm. For example, someone may not be able to get out of bed in the morning without repeating the Hail May thirty times, despite being late for work etc.
Diagnosing Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
First off, in making an OCD diagnosis the doctor will ask about obsessions and compulsions. For obsessions, a person must have thoughts, impulses, or images that they are unable to get rid of even though they do try. The purpose of compulsions is to relieve obsessions.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention assert that the following conditions must be met for the diagnosis to be made:
- The obsessions and compulsions are time consuming, taking up at least one hour of every day, cause extreme distress, or significantly interfere with a person’s life
- The symptoms are not a result of medications, drugs, or other medical conditions
- The obsessions are not related to another disorder. For example, someone with an eating disorder does not have OCD if they only obsess about food, which is related to their eating disorder.
OCD is often accompanied by co-occurring disorders, and is sometimes misdiagnosed or missed entirely. The more common co-occurring disorders are eating disorders, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, or depression.
Through a person with OCD’s life the condition can take different courses, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. For some the symptoms come and go, for others they ease over time, and then for some they get worse. In some cases the symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder become so severe that the person cannot work or keep their home in order.
Cause of OCD
Scientific research suggests that obsessive compulsive disorder is a result of a chemical imbalance in the brain. People with brain injuries sometimes develop OCD, which suggests it is a medical condition. In addition, according to a study described by the National Alliance of Mental Health, if a placebo is given to people with panic attacks or people who are depressed, 40 percent will report an improvement in symptoms. For people with OCD, only 2 percent feel better with a placebo. This also suggests that it is a biological problem.
Genetics also play a role in the development of obsessive compulsive disorder. If someone in a family has OCD there is a 25 percent chance that another immediate family member – a parent, sibling, or child – will have it. It is thought to be a dysfunction of certain parts of the brain, specifically the frontal lobe and basal ganglia, and treatment works on changing activity in those brain regions.
The neurotransmitter serotonin and a hormone called vassopressin have been studied and are thought to have a potential link to OCD.
Treatment at Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Rehab Centers
Obsessive compulsive disorder is a chronic disease and although in some cases symptoms become less severe at times treatment is usually necessary. Treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder may take the form of behavioral therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy or drug therapy which includes prescription medications. Psychotherapy is often effective at treating OCD and many rehab centers will employ a combination of different forms of psychotherapy in conjunction with drug therapy to successfully help individuals who suffer from OCD and anxiety disorders.
Rehab centers that treat mental disorders or anxiety disorders provide the most effective treatments for obsessive-compulsive disorder. For most individuals who suffer from OCD, drug therapy alone is not enough to combat the symptoms of the disorder and a combination of antidepressants or antipsychotics in conjunction with behavior modification must be used to provide the optimal reduction in symptoms associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy: Treating obsessive compulsive disorder with cognitive behavioral therapy is a common approach that usually consists of exposure and response prevention, according to the University of California at San Diego. The patient will be exposed to feared objects or ideas and will then be prevented from carrying out the desired response. An example of this would be to ask someone to touch an object that is said to be ‘contaminated’ and then to deny them the opportunity to wash their hands for several hours. Eventually the patient will feel less anxiety from the obsessive thoughts and is able to avoid compulsions for an extended period of time.
- Medications: Many antidepressants known as SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, have proven effective in treating obsessive compulsive disorder. Some commonly prescribed medications include fluvoxamine (Luvox), paroxetine (Paxil), fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), citalopram (Celexa), and esxitalopram (Lexapro). Clomipramine (Anafranil) and venlafaxine (Effexor) are also used to treat OCD but are from a different class of antidepressants.
Obsessive compulsive disorder rehab centers may also recommend and promote a healthy diet, regular exercise, and getting enough sleep to OCD patients. These things have been increasingly noted for their potential benefits in helping alleviate the symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder.
For severe cases of OCD that do not respond to other forms of therapy or treatment, some rehab centers may use electroconvulsive therapy to reduce the symptoms of OCD but in most cases this type of treatment is not necessary. When such therapies and treatments prove ineffective for individuals who have obsessive-compulsive disorder a final resort is to have psychosurgery although this is another treatment that is not commonly sought. Psychosurgery is a process of placing a surgical legion in the brain to eliminate the symptoms of OCD. This treatment is performed at a hospital only after an individual has undergone several therapy sessions, counseling and treatment options at rehab centers first.