Friday, July 1, 2011

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder can be very debilitating for the sufferer.  It is characterized by anxiety, intrusive thoughts, and "obsessiveness" over a certain theme eg cleaniness and safety.  In addition, there is an element of compulsion to repeatedly respond to the underlying fear despite the conscious awareness of it being "irrational".   In essence, it stems from severe anxiety. 

A typical example is someone with a fear of getting sick from contracting germs on the hands.  Due to this underlying fear, he/she will repeatedly wash his/her hands in order to alleviate his/her fear.  It may take many repeated hand washings before he/she stops and feels "safe".  Despite being aware of it being unhelpful and irrational, he/she is
compelled to continue with the repetitive behaviour of handwashing in order to alleviate this anxiety. 

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is managed through medications as well as counselling base on CBT and ACT principles.  If medications like serotonin reuptake inhibitors are required for OCD, then a higher dose is usually required.  Please talk to your Family Doctor about this.

(Please note that it is not uncommon for a anxious person to have some OCD "traits", but this does not necessarily mean that they have an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  In actual fact, OCD "traits" can be helpful.  Would you prefer to see an Accountant with some OCD traits or someone who is too "easy going" and do not double check his work?  Food for thought...)

Dr Vin
Family Doctor in Australia

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