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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

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What is OCD

300.3 is the DSM diagnostic code for obsessive-compulsive disorder. OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) is an anxiety disorder that usually begins as a toddler. Toddlers often find themselves arranging their toys in specific orders or trying not to step on cracks, and usually go away with time. Though, in some cases OCD does not go away and get exponentially greater as time goes on. It is hard to say how many of us have OCD, as many live their lives without ever getting diagnosed. The causes of this disease vary from person to person, but in most cases stressful life events bring it on in one out of three cases, according to The Royal College of Psychiatrists (Blenkiron, 2007). Researchers have discovered that people with OCD focus on the minute detail rather than the big picture (Baron & Kalsher, 2011).

According to the scientific journal of the faculty of medicine in Niš, a prestigious university of medicine in Serbia and Motenegro; defines OCD as basically the presence of obsession or compulsion that is severe enough to be time-consuming or to cause marked distress or significant impairment. OCD causes the brain to be stuck on certain thoughts or urges. The scientific journal also believed that those with the disease eventually recognizes that the obsessions and compulsions are excessive or unreasonable (Sushevska, Olumchev, & Saveska, 2011).

Symptoms of OCD

OCD is believed to affect approximately 2-3 percent of the human population (Freeman, Sapyta, Garcia, Fitzgerald, Khanna, Choate-Summers, & Franklin, 2011). Those that have the disorder generally fall under five categories. These five categories are:

1. washers -- constantly using hand sanatizer and have compulsions of the washing of hands, due to fears of contamination;

2. checkers -- repeatedly check things that they associate with danger, such as ensuring doors are locked for fear of intruders entering the house and so forth;

3. doubters and sinners -- scared that if everything is not perfect, then something terrible will happen or they might possibly be punished;

4. counters and arrangers -- obsessed with order and balance, may be superstitious of certain numbers or arrangements;

5. hoarders -- afraid of throwing anything away due to the possibility of something bad happening.

Most people with this disease have both obsessions and compulsions of the five categories, but sometimes they can experience just one or the other (Baron & Kalsher, 2011).


Obsessions are uncontrollable thoughts, images, or impulses that may occur many times within a short time span in one's mind. Even if one did not want to have these thoughts it would be impossible to stop if someone was obsessed with the idea. Some signs of obsessive thoughts are: scared of being contaminated by germs. Bothersome sexually explicit or violent thoughts and images. These obsessions line up with the five categories of OCD (Robinson, Smith, & Segal, 2012).


Compulsions are the other symptom of OCD. Compulsions can be either rituals or behaviors that one would have the urge to act out over and over again. Compulsions may at times be used in order to try to make obsessions go away. An example of this might be an intensive sweep of each room, checking all windows and possible entry points are locked and secure before leaving the house. Signs of compulsive behaviors are: excessive double or triple checking of locks and switches. Counting or tapping in order to help alleviate or reduce anxiety (Robinson, Smith, & Segal, 2012).

Treatments for OCD

Cognitive-Behavior Therapy

The two main treatments for OCD are psychotherapy and medications. Depending on the person and the situation either one can be beneficial. Although it is widely accepted amongst the medical community, that cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT) is the most effective psychological treatment for OCD (Pence, Aldea, Sulkowski, & Storch, 2011). There are two components for the treatment of OCD using CBT. One of the approaches is called exposure and response prevention. In this approach the patient is repeatedly exposed to one's obsessions. Then that person is asked to refrain from the compulsive behavior that would alleviate the anxiety. An example of this would be to shake someones hand and have them not wash their hands. While



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