What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?
Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common psychiatric disorder, affecting approximately 2.2 million American adults each year. OCD causes people to experience unwanted, intrusive thoughts (obsessions) that can prompt them to carry out repeated actions (compulsions) to reduce the anxiety produced by those thoughts. One difference between normal worries and OCD is how much time these behaviors or rituals take out of their day, and how much distress they cause. People with OCD recognize that their thoughts are irrational, but can’t stop them.
Symptoms of OCD
The persistent unwanted obsessions — inappropriate ideas, thoughts, impulses, or images — that people with OCD experience are the kinds of everyday thoughts or worries that could pass through a person’s mind quickly and be dismissed. But those with OCD have trouble doing that, and find these obsessions cannot be controlled.
Some common obsessions include:
- Aggressive obsessions
- Contamination obsessions
- Sexual obsessions
- Religious obsessions
- Obsessions with need for symmetry/exactness
- Miscellaneous obsessions
- Somatic obsessions
To counteract these obsessions, people with OCD typically use repeated behaviors or thoughts, known as compulsions. Compulsions are often rituals that the person believes may reduce the risk of the obsessions coming true, or at least reduce the anxiety they produce. However, the compulsions often don’t accomplish this, nor are they usually useful in any other way. In fact, the compulsions or rituals can take up so much time from a person’s day that they get in the way of work, school, and family obligations.
Common compulsions include:
- Repeating words silently
OCD is Underdiagnosed and Undertreated
OCD can be masked by major depressive disorder, which has a lifetime prevalence of 67% in OCD patients. On average, patients delay seeking treatment for 7.5 years. LUVOX CR is approved for OCD.
OCD Affects More Than Just the Patient
OCD impacts not only those directly suffering its effects, but family members, relatives, and caregivers. Often, family members will attempt to accommodate OCD symptoms in afflicted patients, which puts added stress on family relationships, and can interfere with treatment
Family members can serve as a valuable resource for patients with OCD, and can help facilitate treatment. Physicians may ask relatives of people with OCD about a family history of OCD or other psychiatric disorders. Information from family members or others can help a physician assess whether a patient is at risk of harming themselves or others. Treatment for people with OCD can involve educating family members about OCD and participation in family therapy in order to support the patient’s recovery.
Treatment Can Help Many People with OCD
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and medication with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are current first-line treatments for OCD. Every person is different, so some people will find that CBT alone could potentially relieve OCD symptoms and others will find they need a combination of CBT and medication. Some patients may need to augment their initial therapy or change treatments after a sufficient trial period in order to achieve satisfactory results. LUVOX CR has not been studied in combination with CBT.
There are tools available to help identify patients with OCD; a psychiatrist may use these tools to help quantify the severity of OCD, distinguish it from other conditions, and measure response to treatment. These tools include symptom scales such as the Zohar-Fineberg Obsessive-Compulsive Screen and the Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale (Y-BOCS).