What is it like to live with OCD?
Listen to this interview with Bobbi, a young woman who deals with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder every day and you’ll get a much better understanding of what OCD is like. You have probably heard of the term OCD and perhaps you’ve seen shows like Monk or you’ve seen characters on TV and in the movies who show symptoms of obsessional thoughts or compulsive behaviors and perhaps you’ve wondered yourself about some of your own thoughts and behaviors. Learn more about OCD in this episode of The Psych Files.
Resources on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
- Definition of OCD (Wikipedia): Obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental disorder characterized by intrusive thoughts that produce anxiety, by repetitive behaviors aimed at reducing anxiety, or by combinations of such thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions). The symptoms of this anxiety disorder range from repetitive hand-washing and extensive hoarding to preoccupation with sexual, religious, or aggressive impulses. These symptoms can be alienating and time-consuming, and often cause severe emotional and economic loss. The acts of those who have OCD may appear paranoid and come across to others as psychotic. However, except in some severe cases, OCD sufferers generally recognize their thoughts and subsequent actions as irrational, and they may become further distressed by this realization.
OCD is the fourth most common mental disorder and is diagnosed nearly as often as asthma and diabetes mellitus. In the United States, one in 50 adults has OCD. The phrase "obsessive–compulsive" has become part of the English lexicon, and is often used in an informal or caricatured manner to describe someone who is meticulous, perfectionistic, absorbed in a cause, or otherwise fixated on something or someone. Although these signs may be present in OCD, a person who exhibits them does not necessarily have OCD, and may instead have obsessive–compulsive personality disorder (OCPD) or some other condition, such as an autism spectrum disorder. The symptoms of OCD can range from difficulty with odd numbers to nervous habits such as opening a door and closing it a certain number of times before one leaves it either open or shut.
- Exposure and response prevention (ERP) is a treatment method available from behavioral psychologists and cognitive-behavioral therapists for a variety of anxiety disorders, especially Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. It is an example of an Exposure Therapy.
The method is predicated on the idea that a therapeutic effect is achieved as subjects confront their fears and discontinue their escape response. An example would be of a person who repeatedly checks light switches to make sure they’re turned off. They would carry out a program of exposure to their feared stimulus (leaving lights switched on) while refusing to engage in any safety behaviors. It differs from Exposure Therapy for phobia in that the resolution to refrain from the avoidance response is to be maintained at all times and not just during specific practice sessions. Thus, not only does the subject experience habituation to the feared stimulus, they also practice a fear-incompatible behavioral response to the stimulus. While this type of therapy typically causes some short-term anxiety, this facilitates long-term reduction in obsessive and compulsive symptoms.
Resources on OCD
- If you’d like to learn more about Exposure Response Prevention, listen to this interview from the February 17th episode of the Behavior Therapist podcast. This is a very well done podcast and highly recommended
- The International OCD Foundation
- The National Institute of Mental Health has an good site on OCD.
- Here’s an interesting page on OCD from the KidsHealth web site.
- There is an online OCD scale that the web site Psych Central offers. Here is what they say about it: "Use this brief screening measure to help you determine if you might need to see a mental health professional for diagnosis and treatment of OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder)".
- OCD Risk Higher When Several Variations in Gene Occur Together
- Here’s an interesting article from the New York Times: Scientists Find a Shared Gene in Dogs With Compulsive Behavior
- Another article from the New York Times on OCD
Neurological Connections between OCD and the Left VentroLateral PreFrontal Cortex
- Sex Differences in Neural Responses to Disgusting Visual Stimuli: Implications for Disgust-Related Psychiatric Disorders,
Xavier Caseras, David Mataix-Cols, Suk Kyoon An, Natalia S. Lawrence, Anne Speckens, Vincent Giampietro, Michael J. Brammer, Mary L. Phillips
Biological Psychiatry – 1 September 2007 (Vol. 62, Issue 5, Pages 464-471
- Mataix-Cols D, An SK, Lawrence NS, Caseras X, Speckens A, Giampietro V,
Brammer MJ, Phillips ML (2008) Individual differences in disgust sensitivity modulate neural responses to aversive/disgusting stimuli. Eur Journal of Neuroscience 27:3050–3058.