You Might Not Actually Have OCD–But Some People Do
In the past, many ailments, particularly ones related to mental health, were either disregarded or attributed to supernatural causes such as divinity, demons, ghosts, witchcraft, or karma. Even physical illness often carried with it some stigma. Communities were taught that those with bad health were either cursed or deserving of such a state. Of course, some of these archaic sentiments started to change during the Enlightenment and beyond. While there are still some groups today who believe misfortune is a result of divine judgment of some kind, most people now accept that there is a biological and chemical basis for all human disease, even those diseases we don’t fully understand yet.
It wasn’t until more recently, however, that mental illness became de-stigmatized. Because it’s less tangible than physical problems, mental illness was often dismissed or outright ignored. Today. however, mental illness is taken as seriously by medical professionals as any other type of illness, and great strides have been made in treatment methods as a result of this invigorated focus.
One form of mental illness is known as obsessive-complusive disorder (OCD). OCD is commonly known by most people, since the term has become somewhat of a slang go-to for anyone with particular habits or a picky disposition. This broad use of the term detracts from the experiences of those who actually suffer from OCD, however. OCD refers to a mental disorder that causes people to exhibit repetitive, ritualistic behavior for even the most menial tasks. People with OCD might need to wash their hands excessively after touching any external object, or count things a certain number of times. In more severe cases of OCD, one’s life can be greatly stunted, since even simple tasks take longer or can’t be completed at all. Social activities, work, and leisure become hassles, and some people with OCD have trouble even leaving their house or apartment.
What Causes OCD?
Today the cause of OCD is still not fully known. There is evidence, however, that the disorder is related to genetics and possibly infection that is onset early in life, though this latter idea is more controversial. Stress from abuse in childhood also seems to play a role in the development of OCD.
Can OCD Be Treated?
Thanks to extensive research done by psychiatrists, psychologists, and other experts, methods for management and treatment have been developed and improved for those with OCD. The two main methods involve therapy and medication. Both types of treatment can be effective depending on the individual and severity of their disorder.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for OCD
This type of treatment seems to be the most effective overall for treating patients with OCD. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for OCD is a type of treatment that aims to empower the patient to treat him/herself using knowledge, skills, and resources gained from their therapist. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is also used for other mental disorders such as anxiety and depression, both of which are closely linked to OCD. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for OCD simply hones in on OCD and all that comes with this disorder in particular.
This type of therapy is broken down into two parts: how one thinks (C for Cognition) and how one acts as a result of this (B for Behavior). The focus of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for OCD is to closely examine these ways of thinking (C) and see how different ways of thinking might affect behavior (B) ad produce a better outcome. For someone with OCD, anxiety is often produced from intrusive thought. Ritualistic behavior is the patient’s way of reducing anxiety levels. With this therapy, however, the patient will learn to change their thought patterns to modify their behavior. In other words, the thoughts the patient has aren’t the problem; the patient’s interpretation of those thoughts and the manifestation of them into obessive-complusive behavior is.
Treating OCD, especially severe cases, takes a lot of time and effort. However, studies have shown that 75% of patients who pursue Cognitive Behavioral Therapy benefit from this treatment method. The more seriously mental disorders such as OCD are taken, the better treatment there will be for so many people with mental illness. It’s even possible that in the future there will be a cure for most, if not all, mental illnesses. Methods like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy are just the beginning.