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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (Ocd) - Symptoms, Treatment And Causes

Last Updated: Oct 26, 2021

What is OCD?

OCD stand for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). It is a type of mental ailment. Generally, this condition is observed in those who are in the adolescent age range or reached adulthood. People experience obsessive thoughts and compulsions during such condition. OCD patients ritualistically perform certain actions as a routine or have certain thoughts that they harbor repeatedly. Some of the most common activities that OCD people often do is like counting things, repeated hand washing or see if the doors and windows are locked.

Some of the OCD patients all find difficult to throw unnecessary or old junks off. These activities happen to such a degree that most often they tend to jeopardize their normal life and their daily life gets negatively affected. Though most adult OCD patients realize that their strange behavior doesn’t make sense, but still they just can’t stop.

What triggers OCD?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is not a disorder that one develops over a period of time, so it needs a trigger to happen or convert daily life obsession into a psychotic one. Triggers can be in the form of a traumatic event like a personal crisis, abuse, death of a loved one, or something negative that affects you a lot on an unconscious level.

The chances of Obsessive-compulsive disorder care less if a person is mentally stable and has no such medical or family history of mental disorders like depression or anxiety. Also if a person has a family history of OCD, it is easy to get triggered by trauma and any mental distress.

What are the 4 types of OCD?


Compulsive checking, contamination or mental contamination, symmetry and order and Hoarding are different types of obsessive-compulsive disorder. In Checking type disorder, the patient always has a need for checking cars, water taps, gas or electric stove cobs, house lights and candles, emails and letters, etc for reassurance. This can sometimes damage that particular object.

Another type of observational worry is observed in mental contamination where a patient has thought of contamination. Due to this, the patient can harm themselves or their loved ones. In symmetry and order, a patient will always try to keep everything perfect and symmetrical. In hoarding OCD, people avoid discarding useless things and worn-out possessions.

What causes OCD?

Causes of OCD be diverse, but the root cause onto which it actually stops are only three, these are:

  • Physical changes in brain functionality cause the release of chemicals that make you obsessive and compulsive.
  • Genetic mutation, often one says like children adopt some habits from the womb itself, well this is heritage. Minor modifications in the genes of your parents pass to the offspring making them behave similarly.
  • In some cases where none of them were the cause, the patient often went through a trauma or a specific situation that triggered the OCD behavior.

How many people have ocd?

As per medical experts, OCD affects about 2.3% of people around the globe, at some point in their lives. Generally, the symptoms start after the age of 35, although there are many who even develop OCD symptoms even before 20. Males and females are equally affected by this disorder.


What are the early signs of OCD?

It is described as an anxiety disorder in which signs like:

  • Repetitive behavior
  • Being rule-driven
  • A tough time during leaving home or any favorite place
  • Hand-washing
  • Overzealous cleaning
  • Checking behavior
  • Counting
  • Unwanted sexual thoughts
  • Seeking reassurance
  • Dwelling on relationships

Is OCD a mental illness?

OCD or obsessive-compulsive disorder can be described as a “mental illness” where a person’s obsession, compulsion, or both took a life-threatening turn. One thing to note here is both obsession and compulsion behavior is a part of our emotional system and at a certain level it is ok to be obsessed with something or someone, but when it is stated to cause a lot of distress to oneself and others surround, in that case, it is considered as a medical illness or a disorder.

For instance, having an obsession with cleaning one’s surroundings is good until it starts to consume almost your entire time and cause discomfort to others.

How to diagnose obsessive-compulsive disorder?

There are primarily four ways to know if a patient has obsessive-compulsive disorder These are physical examination, lab tests, psychological evaluation, and diagnostic criteria for OCD. During physical examination, a doctor will discuss the feelings, thoughts, and habits of the patient. There may be chances of bloodstream collection for tests of complete blood count, the functioning of thyroid, and screening of alcohol and substance abuse.

DSM-5 or Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, issued by the American Psychiatric Association can be used for the diagnosis of OCD.

What are the risk factors for OCD?

Biological causes such as genetics, brain structure and surrounding environment are considered as basic causes behind this condition, however, there is further need for research in this area. It has been studied that if a parent has OCD, it puts their child at a higher risk of developing this condition.

Any stressful or shocking events can also cause OCD as these situations can trigger thoughts, feelings, etc. Paediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infection (PANDAS) is considered as an environmental factor that causes OCD in which strep infection occurs.

What happens if OCD is untreated?

If left untreated, the obsessive-compulsive disorder can worsen with time, to the point that the sufferer starts to develop physical problems which make it hard for them to perform daily routine activities. This may also lead to more life-threatening situations or experiences suicidal thoughts.

Does OCD worsen with age?

Initial signs of OCD can be seen in teenagers, they may look like harmless activities or habits at first but as they grow the symptoms become more worse with time. The symptoms of OCD may appear in a slow pacing or sudden way. Depending upon the life events the severity of the symptoms may fluctuate, some of them are:

  • Unwanted or upsetting doubts.
  • Rituals like excessive washing, repeating routine activities, etc.
  • Thoughts about harm, sex, health, etc.
  • Special thoughts designed to counteract negative thoughts.

Since it is a progressive disorder whose symptoms usually worsen with age, it is often hard for the patients to identify the exact age/life stage at which their OCD started. As they get to know more about themselves during the therapy they may recall the initial signs that started the disruption in life. The therapy also helps you to detect and identify which situations, places, or objects trigger the OCD.

What is the treatment for OCD disorder?

Obsessive compulsion disorder has no complete cure but there are some treatments that help in controlling its symptoms. There are behavioral therapies and talk therapy given by trained therapists for this condition. Videoconferencing Therapy or teletherapy Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Exposure and Response Prevention therapy along with prescribed medication are used to deal with OCD.

Can OCD go away on its own?

No, OCD is a psychological disorder that only escalates if not taken care of. It is hard to detect and master this condition as one may see it as "being extra careful".

Since obsession and compulsion can be counted as basic human emotions, it is important to understand that one cannot get rid of them. Disorders like OCD do not go away. The treatment that is associated with it mainly focuses on controlling or eliminating the factors that make it harmful for oneself and others.

For instance, obsession with a specific object cannot be cured, but with the help of therapy, one can learn how to channelize the obsession and keep it in control.

Who is eligible for the treatment?

Treatment for OCD can be conducted on anyone regardless of age and gender.

There are different treatment plans available for each age group but everyone can undergo the treatment process if they are feeling problematic.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

There are no certain restrictions made for the eligibility of OCD treatment.

What medication for obsessive-compulsive disorder?

Medications are helpful in controlling the unwanted obsession thoughts and compulsions. However, before prescribing any medications, complete information should be gathered on the stage of OCD. Food and Drug Administration has approved some antidepressants and psychiatric medications for treating OCD such as Clomipramine, Fluoxetine, Fluvoxamine, Paroxetine, and Sertraline.

Before prescribing any of these medications, the doctor should discuss issues like side effects, suicide risk and interactions with other substances. Even though all medications are safe but there may be a chance of negative outcomes too. According to FDA, the antidepressants are given to mental illness patients but it always carries a black box warning with it.

What are the ways for the prevention of OCD?

There is no proper treatment for this condition but its signs and symptoms can be controlled. There is also no early prevention for Obsessive Compulsion Disorder. If any patient is suffering from OCD, identifying it early can help in preventing it.

Should I go to urgent care for OCD?

No, OCD does not create a life-threatening situation for oneself or others. One may need to visit your therapist as per the schedule for Response Prevention (ERP) and Cognitive Behavior Therapy. These are important to pursue in order to control the OCD urges.

What are the side effects of OCD treatments?

While therapy only challenges your mental status, medications may cause certain side effects, some of them were:

  • blurred vision
  • diarrhea
  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • dry mouth
  • headaches
  • insomnia
  • drowsiness
  • reduced sexual desire
  • erectile dysfunction
  • nervousness

Contact your doctor if your side does not disappear within a few weeks, side effects from the medication may cause complications if you take care on time.

How long does it take to recover from OCD?

There is no permanent cure for OCD, with the help of treatment and medication one can achieve remission. It is advisable to keep in touch with your treatment even if you feel ok as chances of relapse are quite high.

The time of the recovery mostly depends on the seriousness of the case and its complications.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

NO, There is no permanent cure for OCD, with the help of treatment and medication one can achieve remission. It is advisable to keep in touch with your treatment even if you feel ok as chances of relapse are quite high.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

Disorders like OCD do not go away. The treatment that is associated with it mainly focuses on controlling or eliminating the factors that make it harmful for oneself and others. However, in case of remission, one can keep in touch with the psychiatrist, have a healthy diet and lifestyle, and practice mind exercises to avoid any relapse.

What foods help with OCD?

Under OCD your mind starts to feel anxious and realize hormones that may exhaust you completely. In emergencies like this, your body stops most of its functions to divert its energy to solve the specific situation. Frequent episodes may drop your sugar levels leading to the feeling of being cranky or tired. Here Are some food suggestions that will help you enrich yourself with nutrients:

  • Nuts and seeds.
  • Complex carbs like fruits.
  • Protein-enriched foods.

Furthermore, avoid products that are high in caffeine and give an artificial energy boost. Stay away from high caffeinated products. It can flare up your anxiety levels.

What to eat in OCD?

Even though the diet of an individual is not directly related to the treatment, one may need to be energized and healthy for better treatment results. Here is the list of items that will keep you up all day:

  • Nuts and seeds
  • eggs
  • beans
  • meat
  • whole grains
  • Fruits and veggies

What not to eat in OCD?

Here is the list of items that can imbalance your hormone levels, making it difficult for you to manage your OCD:

  • Coffee or tea
  • Soda
  • Energy drinks
  • High sugar products

What are natural remedies for OCD?

Natural remedies are safe and do not any serious side effects. They can be considered as a complementary treatment for OCD. Sr. John’s Wort, Milk Thistle (Silybum Marianum), foods reach in iron, magnesium, and zinc like mineral, a supplement of N-Acetylcysteine, psychobiotics, saffron, Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) are remedies used for managing symptoms of OCD.

Musical therapy, mediation, aerobic exercises, some forms of light therapy, acupuncture are also recommended for obsessive compulsion disorder.

How to overcome ocd?

  • Don’t avoid your fears:

    It may seem to be a wise decision to avoid your obsessive thoughts, but in reality, the more you do so, the scarier you shall feel. So, it’s best to expose yourself to your OCD triggers and then try to delay or resist the urge to complete your relief-seeking OCD ritual. If resistance on your part gets too hard, try to lessen the amount of time you spend on doing them.

  • Refocus your attention

    When you are experiencing your OCD urges and thoughts, try to shift your attention to something else instead. A person can go for a walk, do exercise, surf the web, make a phone call, play video games, and others. The important thing is, whatever that you do, enjoy doing something for at least 20 minutes, in order to delay your responses to the compulsive thoughts.

  • Anticipate OCD urges:

    By anticipating your obsessive and compulsive urges, even before they arise, you can help yourself to get rid of your OCD. Whatever the compulsive thoughts are, pay extra attention to them the very first time. When the urge to do or check arises later, a person shall find it easier to re-label the thought as an obsessive disorder.

Summary: An individual personality disorder can be described as the need of being perfect all the time and keeping things perfect around them. In most cases it is due to underlying fear or anxiety, other reasons may associate with various other physical attributes.

What is the price of OCD treatments in India?

Depending upon the type of treatment recommended to the patient it can cost you up to 10 thousand or more depending upon the psychiatrist consultation fee, frequency of sessions, and medications associated with it.

Physical Exercises for people suffering from OCD:

Physical exercise is not directly related to the treatment but it may aid you with overall body health.

On the other hand, mental exercises are direct to the treatment of OCD. Things like meditation, progressive relaxation, breathing exercise, biofeedback, guided imagery, etc. may help you clear your mind and manage OCD.

Summary: An individual personality disorder can be described as the need of being perfect all the time and keeping things perfect around them. In most cases it is due to underlying fear or anxiety, other reasons may associate with various other physical attributes.


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Written ByDr. Akshata Bhat MD - Psychiatry,MBBSPsychiatry
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