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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is where the sufferer is experiencing an anxiety disorder with two parts; intrusive thoughts (obsessions) and behaviours (compulsions). The Obsessive Compulsive Disorder develops in an attempt to reduce the person's anxiety, although the person can and does recognise that their behaviour and thoughts are irrational and inappropriate, without treatment Obsessive Compulsive Disorder can become all-consuming. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder can start to hamper the person's ability to function on a day to day basis and can often begin to interfere with things like school and work, due to the sometimes many hours spent performing rituals.

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The signs and symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder are:

  • excessive cleaning - The person ritualistically washes his or her hands or cleans certain items repeatedly throughout the day, usually due to a fear of germs.
  • repetition - The person counts items, or says a word or phrase over and over.
  • performance of a ritualistic sequence of behaviours The person rigidly applies an arbitrary set of rules for behaviour, such as going through the same set of behaviours in the exact order or repeating a behaviour until it is done perfectly. A person may also repeatedly check such things as whether or not the alarm clock is set, doors are locked or the coffee pot is unplugged.
  • hoarding The person collects useless or unnecessary items.
  • attempts, usually unsuccessful, to stop or ignore thoughts and behaviours.



    The cause of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is still unknown, although it is thought to be the result of lower levels of serotonin in the brain. Lower levels of serotonin have also been found in people who suffer from depression, thus, the close correlation between depression and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is very common. Generally people who suffer from depression may also suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and vice versa.



    To diagnose Obsessive Compulsive Disorder the medical professional needs an understanding of the sufferers past, very rarely though, is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder diagnosed due to the sufferer's feelings towards the illness. The sufferer can realise that the behaviours and thoughts that they perform and think are irrational, and therefore will try to cover up the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. It is important with any illness, especially Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, that you tell your doctor or medical professional anything and everything that you think is important. There are questionnaires that can be completed for the doctor to diagnose you, these are the Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (YBOCS) or an anxiety scale may be used.

    Treatment of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder can involve either medicated therapy, or cognitive behavioural therapy. The medications that might be used are usually antidepressants, because of the relationship between depression and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is used to change the person's thinking patterns or to slowly expose the sufferer to the object, thought or action that causes the compulsions. For example the person may repeatedly check that the door is locked, using Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, the therapist will try to decrease the urge of checking the lock. With persistent treatment the sufferer will eventually notice that their obsessions and compulsions are beginning to fade.



    New developments in the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder

    SSRIs in the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder

    There is also a Health Translations Online Directory that enables you, health practitioners, and those working with culturally and linguistically diverse communities to easily find reliable translated health information.

    The Directory provides web links to online multilingual resources across the health sector including government departments, peak health bodies, hospitals, community health centres and welfare agencies.


    The factual information on this page was compiled from:
    Health Answers (http://www.healthanswers.com), Beryl Net (http://www.beryl.net/yourhospital/htl/22708.htm),
    Brochure - Understanding Obsessive Compulsive Disorder from Pfizer, Brochure - Patient Advice on OCD from Solvay

    by people who have had experience with O.C.D.

    Please send us your comments and experiences with O.C.D to share with others.

  • Your feedback and input will be greatly appreciated.

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