What is OCD?
OCD is a mental health condition that centers around a debilitating obsession or compulsion, distressing actions, and repetitive thoughts. A 2001 World Health Organization (WHO) mental health report estimated that OCD was among the top 20 causes of illness-related disability worldwide for people aged 15 to 44 years. The report also suggested that OCD was the fourth most common mental illness after phobias, substance abuse, and major depression. OCD is associated with a wide range of functional impairments and has a significant impact on social and working life.
There are several types of OCD that present in different ways:
- Checking: This is a need to repeatedly check something for harm, leaks, damage, or fire. Checking can include repeatedly monitoring taps, alarms, car doors, house lights, or other appliances.It can also apply to "checking people." Some people with OCD diagnose illnesses they feel that they and the people close to them might have. This checking can occur hundreds of times and often for hours, regardless of any commitments the individual may have.Checking can also involve repeatedly confirming the authenticity of memories. A person with OCD might repeatedly validate letters and e-mails for fear of having made mistakes. There may be a fear of having unintentionally offended the recipient.
- Contamination or mental contamination: This occurs when a person with OCD feels a constant and overbearing need to wash and obsesses that objects they touch are contaminated. The fear is that the individual or the object may become contaminated or ill unless repeated cleaning takes place. It can lead excessive toothbrushing, overcleaning certain rooms in the house, such as the bathroom or kitchen, and avoiding large crowds for fear of contracting germs. Mental contamination is the feeling of being 'dirty' after being mistreated or put down. In this type of contamination, it is always another person that is responsible. A person with OCD will try to 'scrub away' this feeling by showering and washing excessively.
- Hoarding: This is the inability to throw away used or useless possessions.Rumination: Ruminating involves an extended and unfocused obsessive train of thought that focuses on wide-ranging, broad, and often philosophical topics, such as what happens after death or the beginning of the universe.The person may seem detached and deep in thought. However, the ruminating never reaches a satisfactory conclusion.
- Intrusive thoughts: These are often violent, horrific, obsessional thoughts that often involve hurting a loved one violently or sexually. They are not produced out of choice and can cause the person with OCD severe distress. Because of this distress, they are unlikely to follow through on these thoughts. These thoughts can include obsessions about relationships, killing others or suicide, a fear of being a pedophile, or being obsessed with superstitions.
- Symmetry and orderliness: A person with OCD may also obsess about objects being lined up to avoid discomfort or harm. They may adjust the books on their shelf repeatedly so that they are all straight and perfectly lined up, for example.
While these are not the only types of OCD, obsessions and compulsions will generally fall into these categories.
OCD is separated from other mental health conditions by the presence of obsessions, compulsions, or both. The obsessions or compulsions cause marked distress, are time-consuming, and interfere with a person's normal function.Indications of OCD can occur in children and teenagers, with the disease usually beginning gradually and worsening with age. Symptoms of OCD can be mild or severe. Some people experience obsessive thoughts only, without engaging in compulsive behavior. Some people who experience OCD successfully hide their symptoms for fear of embarrassment or stigma. Friends and family may, however, notice some of the more physical signs.
- Person washing hands: Constant hand-washing and washing and cleaning in a specific way are common OCD compulsions. Despite a wealth of research, the exact causes of OCD have not been identified. OCD is thought to have a neurobiological basis, with neuroimaging studies showing that the brain functions differently in people with the disorder. An abnormality, or an imbalance in neurotransmitters, is thought to be involved in OCD. The disorder is equally common among adult men and women.
- OCD in children: OCD that begins in childhood is more common in boys than girls, with the usual time of onset of OCD later for females than males. The condition might be triggered by a combination of genetic, neurological, behavioural, cognitive, and environmental factors.
- Genetic causes: OCD runs in families and can be considered a "familial disorder." The disease may span generations with close relatives of people with OCD significantly more likely to develop OCD themselves. Twin studies of adults suggest that obsessive-compulsive symptoms are moderately able to be inherited, with genetic factors contributing 27 to 47 percent variance in scores that measure obsessive-compulsive symptoms. However, no single gene has been identified as the "cause" of OCD.
- Autoimmune causes: Some rapid-onset cases of OCD in children might be consequences of Group A streptococcal infections, which cause inflammation and dysfunction in the basal ganglia. These cases are grouped and referred to as pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcal infections (PANDAS). In recent years, however, other pathogens, such as the bacteria responsible for Lyme disease and the H1N1 flu virus, have also been associated with the rapid onset of OCD in children. As such, clinicians have altered the acronym to PANS, which stands for Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome.
- Behavioural causes: The behavioural theory suggests that people with OCD associate certain objects or situations with fear. They learn to avoid those things or learn to perform "rituals" to help reduce the fear. This fear and avoidance or ritual cycle may begin during a period of intense stress, such as when starting a new job or just after an important relationship comes to an end. Once the connection between an object and the feeling of fear becomes established, people with OCD begin to avoid that object and the fear it generates, rather than confronting or tolerating the fear.
- Cognitive causes: The behavioural theory outlined above focuses on how people with OCD make an association between an object and fear. The cognitive theory, however, focuses on how people with OCD misinterpret their thoughts. Most people have unwelcome or intrusive thoughts at certain times, but for individuals with OCD, the importance of those thoughts are exaggerated. For example, a person who is caring for an infant and who is under intense pressure may have an intrusive thought of harming the infant either deliberately or accidentally. Most people can shrug off and disregard the thought, but a person with OCD may exaggerate the importance of the thought and respond as though it signifies a threat. As long as the individual with OCD interprets these intrusive thoughts as cataclysmic and true, they will continue the avoidance and ritual behaviors.
- Neurological causes: Brain scans have shown abnormal activity in people with OCD. Brain imaging techniques have allowed researchers to study the activity of specific areas of the brain, leading to the discovery that some parts of the brain are different in people with OCD when compared to those without. Despite this finding, it is not known exactly how these differences relate to the development of OCD. Imbalances in the brain chemicals serotonin and glutamate may play a part in OCD.
- Environmental causes: Environmental stressors may be a trigger for OCD in people with a tendency toward developing the condition. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) in adolescents and children has also been associated with an increased risk of onset of obsessive-compulsions. One study found that 30 percent of children aged 6 to 18 years who experienced a TBI developed symptoms of OCD within 12 months of the injury. Overall, studies indicate that people with OCD frequently report stressful and traumatic life events before the illness begins.
According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), the diagnostic criteria for OCD include:the presence of obsessions, compulsions or both the obsessions and compulsions are time-consuming or cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning the obsessive-compulsive symptoms are not due to the physiological effects of a substance, for example, drug abuse or medication for another condition. The disturbance is not better explained by another mental disorder. If the above criteria are met, a diagnosis of OCD might be given. A number of other psychiatric and neurological disorders, such as depression and anxiety, have similar features to OCD and can occur alongside the condition.
Role of Homeopathy in OCD:
Homoeopathy is very proficient in managing the symptoms of OCD because homoeopathic treatment for OCD takes into consideration the entire life situation, physical and emotional make-up of the person. Each remedy in homeopathic treatment for OCD is chosen carefully and used judiciously, ensuring elimination of any side effects and maximization of the benefits. Moreover, relapse and recurrence of the condition also be prevented with Homeopathy. Homoeopathic treatment for OCD is a patient-oriented science and medicines are prescribed on the characteristics of the individual rather than just the symptoms of the disease.
Diet And Nutrition:
- Have a Calcium-rich diet: Cheese, milk, curd, soybeans, sardines, cottage cheese, dark green veggies (spinach, Chinese cabbage, watercress etc.), etc. are loaded with calcium. Include more of them in your diet.
- Ensure Vitamins: Sunflower seeds and oil, pistachio, meat, fish, chicken, banana, avocadoes, spinach, asparagus, tomatoes, etc. that are rich in different vitamins should be consumed.
- Take foods rich in Folic Acid: Broccoli, bananas, potatoes and soy products are good sources of folic acid. Folic acid is a nerve-strengthening vitamin