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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive compulsive disorder affects millions of people across the United States. This disorder dramatically impairs a person's  functioning, while affecting the entire family system. OCD often goes unnoticed by others, but not by those who live with the person suffering with the obsessions. The obsessive thoughts are usually recurrent, disgusting or frightening, or they may be compulsions that the person knows does  not make sense, but feels compelled to do anyway. The obsessive thoughts are generally senseless. They may consist of repetitive thoughts of violence, contamination, i.e. handwashing or doubt, such as having injured someone.

The more the person tries to control the thoughts, the more powerful and forceful they become .In the treatment for this disorder, the client is taught to "give up the struggle" of trying to control the ruminations, beliefs and distortions that flood their mind. This takes what is called Acceptance and Commitment . Another form of treatment is exposure therapy, where the client is gradually exposed to the situations that will induce their rituals and habits and to face his or her worst fear. Exposure therapy helps the client to learn how to feel the discomfort initially without avoiding what is only perceived to be harmful. This is called, "getting better at feeling" rather than just feeing better.

Research has shown a biological pattern associated with OCD. Brain studies show an increase in blood flow in the anterior cingulate gyrus of the brain. This portion of the brain detects errors and helps shit our attention. There is also an increase of activity in the basal ganglia that helps set the body's anxiety level and that helps to form habits.

If you or you know someone who suffers from this disorder, please reach out for help. There are many good treatment modalities, (cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, family therapy) that can assist in help to solve this debilitating and often embarrassing disorder.

Source: Daniel G. Amen,.Change Your Brain, Change Your Life. Harmony Books, 2015

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