What is OCD?
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, or OCD, is an anxiety disorder in which a person experiences clinically significant obsessions and/or compulsions. The obsessions or compulsions are distressing, time-consuming, or interfere with normal functioning.
Obsessions are recurrent and persistent thoughts, impulses or images that cause anxiety or distress. They are experienced as intrusive and difficult or impossible to ignore. Compulsions are repetitive behaviors or mental acts that a person feels driven to perform, often in response to an obsessive thought. Some examples of compulsions are hand-washing, counting, checking, tapping or touching, praying, or repeating words silently.
Treatment for OCD often involves a combination of therapy and psychotropic medication. The most effective therapeutic treatment for OCD is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) in combination with exposure and response prevention (E/RP). CBT involves understanding the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors associated with OCD and developing coping skills to address them appropriately. E/RP is an essential component in which a person purposely exposes herself or himself to a feared situation and does not perform the compulsion. This occurs on a gradual basis with planning and support. Treatment varies, but progress is usually seen in as few as 8-24 sessions.
OCD in Children
OCD does occur in children! They experience the same types of obsessions and compulsions as adults. Childhood fears are normal and common, but the child with OCD experiences these fears as recurrent and persistent, and the use of logic or reassurance does not quell the worries. In fact, many children develop questioning or reassurance-seeking as a compulsion, involving the parents in endless conversations and rituals. It can be very frustrating.
Psychotropic medication may include an antidepressant or an anti-anxiety agent, and is prescribed by a physician.