Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is most commonly referred to as OCD, and as the name suggests, it is composed of two main symptoms: obsessions and compulsions. An obsession is an intrusive, unwanted, and highly distressing thought that the sufferer cannot rid from their mind, and the compulsion is what the person does to reduce their anxiety. For example, many individuals have obsessions about sickness and contamination. To keep themselves from contracting and illness, they might wash their hands repeatedly throughout the day. At first the hand washing reduces their anxiety, but in the long run, both the anxiety and the compulsions escalate. Persons with OCD might spend the majority of their day thinking about germs, and wash their hands until their hands are dry, cracked, and bleeding.
Others might obsess over whether or not they left the stove on, and so they drive back home several times to check. Other people may have a need for symmetry and order, and must keep their room and items in exact position or they become distressed. Still others experience intrusive, violent thoughts that they cannot remove from their mind.
Despite the distress caused by OCD, professionals have found that Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, in addition to a treatment called Exposure and Response Prevention, or EX/RP, is highly effective in the treatment of OCD. With the help of a therapist, the individual learns ways to confront the feared situations and objects without engaging in compulsions or rituals, ultimately allowing one to take back control of one’s life.