Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Natural obsessive compulsive disorder treatments for adult and teen OCD symptoms.

natural obsessive compulsive disorder treatment

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  1. What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?
  2. Diagnosing Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  3. What Causes Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?
  4. Help for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  5. More Info on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder that can be most debilitating if left untreated. As the name suggests, OCD is characterized by compulsive actions, practices and thoughts which are experienced to such an extent that they interfere significantly with the wellbeing of the individual. This disorder can have devastating effects on occupational, psychological and social functioning. Teen OCD is devastating for the teenager suffering from the disorder and for his family.

People with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder typically struggle to cope with daily life. Even seemingly simple tasks can become daunting and time consuming. However, with the correct treatment, there is much that can be done to improve symptoms as well as quality of life.

Diagnosing Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

A mental health practitioner will ask you to give a detailed picture of your obsessions and/or compulsions. They will also note your feelings towards them and the way it has affected your life functioning in terms of daily routine, occupation, social interactions and relationships.

In order to get a clearer picture and rule out any other disorders, your health care practitioner may request to speak to family members or friends. Once a diagnosis is made, be sure to ask about all possible treatment options and explore which ones would best suit you!

Symptoms of OCD in Adults

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OCD is characterized by chronic obsessions and compulsions. Depending on the nature of the disorder, the symptoms of OCD vary and are often personal and unique to the person with the disorder. Symptoms include:

Obsessions

A person with OCD suffers from recurring and persistent intrusive thoughts, images, ideas or impulses over which they have little or no control and which cause considerable distress. The most common obsessions relate to the following themes:

  • Aggressive impulses, or the fear that you’re going to harm someone
  • Contamination; fear of germs or disease
  • Sexual content
  • The need for symmetry and order – often as a way of warding off bad luck or disaster

We all get the odd thought or idea that pops into our head from time to time. While most of us can easily dismiss it and carry on, for a person with OCD, there seems to be no escaping these thoughts or impulses. Imagine if the thing you feared the most was a thought! The more you try not thinking about the forbidden thought, the stronger it becomes. For example, if you’re trying not to think of stabbing someone with a knife, this image is the first thing that comes to mind. Teen OCD is especially isolating since the youngster may suffer from symptoms during class and extracurricular activities and may feel ostracized.

Compulsions

One way to relieve the anxiety associated with these obsessions is to act on compulsions. Compulsions are repetitive behaviors, often intended to produce or prevent some future event or situation. An obsessive concern of contamination would usually result in hand-washing compulsions, while obsessions with symmetry would result in re-arranging and ordering of objects.

In many cases the compulsion is totally unrelated to the obsessive thought, but the action becomes a ritualistic distraction. The individual may realize that these actions are senseless, but feel unable to resist them.

For example, where some of us may superstitiously avoid stepping on cracks in the sidewalk, people with OCD may feel extreme anxiety if they don’t give in to this compulsive behavior and often only feel relief when they have done so.

  • Common compulsions include:
  • Washing hands over and over again
  • Repetitive checking that appliances are turned off or windows are closed
  • Frequently wiping objects before touching them
  • Collecting and hoarding specific items
  • Counting items over and over
  • Repeating specific words and phrases in a particular order in ‘your head’
  • Rearranging things endlessly to create ‘balance’
  • Excessive list making
  • Repeating actions in sets of three
  • Having a strict ritual before going to bed that has to be followed exactly

Many of us have learnt about OCD by watching movies or plays about people who are ruled by compulsions such as hand washing, counting and other forms of compulsive behavior. Some examples are ‘Macbeth’, ‘Rain Man’ and Jack Nicholson’s ‘As Good As It Gets’.

Although compulsions are the most well known symptoms of OCD, many people with this condition suffer only from obsessive thoughts. In fact, compulsive behavior is not a prerequisite to the diagnosis of OCD.

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Who Suffers from OCD? Is there a Cure?

Research suggests that OCD affects more women than men. OCD usually appears in early adolescence or mid twenties but can start earlier, especially in boys. After initial OCD symptoms start, the severity of the disorder can quickly escalate.

There is no reason for you to be consumed by OCD - a range of medical options are available and, if properly used, obsessive compulsive disorder treamtments can help the individual live a balanced and healthy life.

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What Causes Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

There is no definite theory as to what causes OCD. In fact, there are quite a few different potential causes, and different cases can be linked to different roots.

Possible Causes of OCD

Biological Causes

  • Genetics - studies suggest that a tendency towards anxiety may be hereditary.
  • Brain chemistry abnormalities - Brain imaging studies have shown that people with OCD sometimes show different neuro-chemical brain activities than those without OCD and this condition is strongly associated with imbalances in brain chemistry. However, it is not certain whether these imbalances are caused by the OCD or whether the imbalances existed first.

Psychological Causes

  • Strong feelings of guilt and responsibility might lead a person to the idea that thinking something bad is morally just as bad as doing it. "If I think of hitting you, it’s morally the same as actually hitting you and so I must be a terrible and violent person."
  • Some people feel overly accountable for what happens around them and think certain thoughts are dangerous. "If I think that, it might actually happen and then I will be responsible for it."
  • Freudian theory suggests that obsessions and compulsions represent subconscious attempts to suppress guilt associated with unwanted sexual impulses.
  • Psychodynamic theory explains obsessions and compulsions as attempts to deal with anxiety originating from the subconscious mind.

Stress

  • Stress or trauma can often precipitate or worsen the symptoms of OCD in certain susceptible people. In teen OCD, stressfull times during the academic year such as midterms and finals can trigger or worsen symptoms.

Drug Abuse

  • OCD may sometimes be precipitated by the use of certain drugs which have the potential to alter brain chemistry.

Prescription Medication

  • OCD symptoms may be related to the side effects of some prescription drugs.

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Help for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

There are a wide variety of treatment options for OCD and it is advisable to explore all options before deciding on a treatment plan.

Treatments for OCD

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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

This form of obsessive compulsive disorder treamtments has been very successful in treating OCD symptoms. Cognitive behavioral therapy encourages the person with OCD to gradually face whatever triggers the compulsive behaviors and also gives the individual the confidence to try and stop them. CBT also empowers the person with constructive ways of dealing with the anxiety that the OCD causes. As CBT works at a safe and steady pace, the long term effects are promising!

Drug Therapy

Several medications have been shown to help with the symptoms of OCD, some of which are clomipramine, fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, sertraline, and paroxetine. While these anti-depressant drugs may be successful at lessening OCD symptoms, they do not address the root cause of the disorder and the symptoms will generally reappear once the medication is stopped.

These drugs also cause unwanted side effects such as dry mouth, nausea, drowsiness, weight gain and loss of libido. Although it was initially thought that these medications did not have the potential to result in dependency, this view has been revised after many reports of withdrawal symptoms experienced when trying to stop the medication.

If you decide that prescription drugs are the best option for you, remember that research indicates that they are best used together with therapy, rather than as a stand alone treatment option.

While prescription medication can be effective as part of a broader treatment plan, it is not always necessary for treatment. It is strongly advised that you research these drugs thoroughly and make an informed decision.

Natural Herbal and Homeopathic Remedies

There are a number of herbal and homeopathic remedies which may assist in the struggle against OCD. OCD is strongly associated with imbalances in brain chemistry and there are a number of herbal remedies that have been shown to be effective in restoring chemical balance and neurological health in the brain.

In addition, because anxiety levels contribute significantly to OCD symptoms, herbal and homeopathic remedies that help to reduce anxiety levels may also be of benefit when considering obsessive compulsive disorder treamtments. Some herbal remedies often recommended for OCD are Hypericum perforatum (St John’s Wort), Passiflora incarnata, Scuttelaria laterifolia (Scullcap) and Valerian.

The benefit of a natural approach is that correctly formulated remedies can give you all the benefits of treatment without the negative side effects of prescription drugs.

Used alone or in conjunction with psychotherapy, herbal and homeopathic remedies can help relieve anxiety and bring the individual to a holistic balance. A natural approach focuses on treating the individual rather than the symptoms! Discuss this option with your doctor or consult a homeopath or naturopath for advice.

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More Information on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Other Disorders Related to OCD

It is not uncommon to find other disorders co-existing with OCD. In some cases OCD is accompanied by:

  • Other anxiety disorders
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Substance abuse
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Tourette’s syndrome
  • Autism
  • Asperger’s Syndrome
  • Mental handicap

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Tips for Coping with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Stick to your treatment plan even though it may seem difficult and daunting at first.
  • Therapies such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) may take some time before improvement is noted. Many people with OCD give up too soon, believing that the therapy will not help them. However, those who persevere usually experience significant improvement, thereby reducing the need for prescription drugs.
  • Do your own research. Understanding your disorder will help you to cope with it.
  • Seek support from loved ones who can offer encouragement during difficult times.
  • Find a support group where you can share your difficulties and learn from the experiences of others. Speaking about your obsessive thoughts can often help to reduce the power they have over you.
  • Avoid negative coping mechanisms such as illicit drugs and alcohol.
  • Participate in social activities. Do not isolate yourself.
  • Healing is an ongoing process, so be patient with your recovery progress.

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