Obsessions are unwanted thoughts that keep coming back even though one tries to stop them e.g. the thought that the lights in the house could still be on, when they have been checked several times before leaving the house. Compulsions are repeated acts that everyone feels are unnecessary e.g washing the hands repeatedly because there is the feeling that there are germs on them.Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is characterized by recurrent, insistent and persistent unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and/or repetitive behaviors (compulsions)which provide temporary relief, and not performing them markedly increases anxiety.
Sometimes it must be difficult to understand why these symptoms simply just can't be controlled. It is important to understand that these problems are not the person's own fault. Something in the biological make up, certain physical factors that are unseen but that a person is born with, can cause the tendency to develop an obsessive compulsive disorder. The environment, life experiences, and of course, stress, also contributes to the problem. People do not cause this disease - not the sufferer himself, nor his family members. However, certain beliefs, certain reactions, can have a contributing effect.
Treatment of OCD involves a combination of medication and Brief Intensive Gestalt (BIG) therapy.
Medication - When the problem is acute medicines are required to control the thoughts and relieve anxiety. These drugs must however always be taken or continued under the psychiatrist's supervision. Sometimes there is depression along with the other OCD symptoms, and this may have to be treated as well.
Brief Intensive Gestalt (BIG) Therapy - This involves a programme of challenging the unwanted thoughts and training the person in 'thought stopping' methods. This may be combined with relaxation methods to lessen anxiety while preventing the repeating patterns of behavior that trouble the person.
Family Therapy - The family has to be counseled and taught to support the person with the disorder and how to cope with the problem.
It can help bring symptoms under control so that they don't rule daily life.
Repeated thoughts/images of
In addition, the person may show...
What the family needs to do:
It is important for the family members of a person affected with OCD to cooperate with the person's wishes to keep the peace. When the rituals and patterns carry on day after day, it becomes easier to give in than to resist and try to talk the person out of it. This only makes the symptoms worse. On the other hand, ignoring the problem or pretending it doesn't exist is not going to help either. Families should get help and begin a programme for changing the person's behaviour. The home environment should be supportive and reassuring. The earlier the disorder is treated, more the chances of success.
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