Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

This is a disorder in which the person needs to follow certain set patterns or routines that may be complicated or tiresome.

What to look for

You may have obsessive thoughts or compulsive behaviour or both.

For obsession:

  • involuntary and persistent thoughts that appear to be senseless, such as an overwhelming fear of dirt; persistent worry about a past event.

  • attempts to suppress such thoughts.

  • recognition that these thoughts come from one's own imagination, not from outside factors (not true for children).

For compulsions:

  • repetitive acts such as hand washing, checking and rechecking doors and locks, making sure windows are shut, tidying, repeating words.

  • recognition that the repetitive behaviour is excessive or unreasonable (may not be true for children).

  • feverish levels of thought or activity.

  • depression and distress as attempts to deal with compulsions fail.

For children:

  • mute behaviour with agitated depression.

  • withdrawal and social isolation accompanied by delusional thinking.

  • mood swings from anxiety to despair.

  • exemplary functioning in sports or school work accompanied by compulsive behaviour.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is chronic and involuntary. The person often realises that they do have a problem but are unable to control themselves. For OCD patients their obsessive thoughts and actions interfere with everyday routines, jobs, and relationships.

OCD happens gradually over time and it is for this reason that people can often not realise that they are suffering from a disorder.

When OCD eventually produces symptoms that interfere with daily life, patients may try to hide their compulsions from other people and attempt to use willpower to stop.

Obsessive-compulsive symptoms are also found in Tourette's syndrome, depression, and schizophrenia.

Causes

There are a number of different possible causes for OCD. Some reports suggest that it runs in families, some say that obsessions reflect unconscious desires from a childhood stage of development, and that it is biochemical in nature.

Your doctor will evaluate you, your upbringing and examine you thoroughly.

Traditional Treatment

The most common form of treatment involves the prescription of drugs combined with behaviour therapy.

Behaviour therapy will assist in helping the person to find alternative ways of behaving that will be less distressful.

Alternative/Natural Therapies

Alternative therapies are useful for both relief and recovery.

Homoeopathy - Homoeopathic practitioners have specific prescriptions for OCD, which can be tailored to the individual. Among the remedies that may be used by an experienced homoeopath are Arsenicum album, Hyoscyamus, Medorrhinum, Nux vomica, and Pulsatilla. Homoeopathic practitioners have specific prescriptions for OCD, which can be tailored to the individual. Among the remedies that may be used by an experienced homoeopath are Arsenicum album, Hyoscyamus, Medorrhinum, Nux vomica, and Pulsatilla.

Relaxation - Meditation and other relaxation techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation, yoga and t'ai chi all may be helpful. Meditation and other relaxation techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation, yoga and t'ai chi all may be helpful.

Breathing exercises are also very helpful.

When to seek further professional advice

  • you or your child is experiencing some of the symptoms listed above

  • your child is anxious or depressed and has fears.