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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder - What Is It?

May 19, 2008
Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), although very common, is often misunderstood. Many people fear that they suffer from OCD when they have a personality quirk that causes them to perform a particular task on a routine basis. That in and of itself does not constitute OCD.

A person suffering with OCD experiences obsessive, distressing, intrusive thoughts and related compulsions or rituals. In order for the problem to be OCD it must take up at least one or more hours per day and interfere with the daily functioning.

The thoughts or compulsions are time-consuming and cause distress. They cause impairment in social, occupational, or school functioning. The sufferer often experiences feelings similar to those associated with depression.

The depression usually occurs after the OCD has a significant impact on the life of the sufferer. He/she may find that the compulsions take up increasingly more time and thus the impacts on his/her life are greater. A vicious cycle can develop with one disorder perpetuating the other.

The compulsions (repetitive behaviors or rituals) are used in an attempt to neutralize the obsessions (recurrent and persistent thoughts). The thoughts cause anxiety or stress and although the sufferer understands that the thoughts are not based on reality he/she is not able to ignore them.

The compulsions, repetitive behaviors, are aimed at preventing or decreasing the distress or at preventing some dreaded event or situation. The compulsions are usually not connected in a realistic way with what they are designed to neutralize.

Panic attacks can also be present in this disorder. However, some OCD patients claim to experience panic attacks after being faced with their major dread. This could be anything really, but an example is the person that has obsessions about keeping his hands clean.

If this person somehow gets the most imaginable disgusting filth on his hands he may go into a panic. Although he may describe this as a panic attack, technically it is not.

True panic attacks come without warning and the fear or anxiety felt is not based on reality. In this case however, the OCD patient is not fearful of the attack (as panic attack sufferers are) itself but rather of the consequences of the contamination.

As mentioned earlier, OCD patients often experience some of the same feelings associated with depression. It seems there is a small thread that connects most anxiety disorders and if one disorder is not treated it can result in the addition of others.

Many advancements have been made in the study and treatment of anxiety disorders. There is always help available and oftentimes natural treatments are effective.
About the Author
To learn more about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and other Anxiety Disorders visit:
http://www.FitInsidenOut.com/gpage30/html
Debbie Allen is a writer, internet marketer and personal coach.
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