Targeted issues

Obsessive-compulsive disorder

When thoughts or behaviors are illogical, exaggerated or bizarre and uncontrollable

This disorder affects nearly 2% of the adult population

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is characterized by obsession, ritual, anxiety and avoidance. It affects nearly 2% of the adult population, as well as many children and adolescents.

 

 

 

 

Moreover, when adults decide to consult, 65% of them say that their disorder developed in their youth.

L'image d'une personne (anonyme) démontrant des comportements typiques du trouble obsessionnel-compulsif

Obsessions
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is characterized by obsession, ritual, anxiety and avoidance. It affects nearly 2% of the adult population, as well as many children and adolescents.

Moreover, when adults decide to consult a doctor, 65% of them say that their disorder developed in their youth.

Compulsion
Compulsion is the response to relieve the obsession. For example, in the case of the contamination obsession, the person comes to wash his hands because he has touched a soap that has already been contaminated, because it has already been used…

This ritual, the obsession followed by the compulsion, will be repeated over and over again. It becomes problematic when it invades daily life. Often the person is aware of the absurdity of his or her behavior, but is unable to avoid the compulsive ritual. If they don’t do it, they feel guilty and the anxiety increases. She will come to do it anyway, even if the time required is exaggerated. She knows that it is not normal to constantly do her ritual and that those around her will react. She will isolate herself to continue the ritual because she is ashamed. This makes it more difficult for her to maintain her personal relationships.

OCD appears to be the result of a combination of psychological, biological and genetic factors.

Psychological factors

People affected by OCD would associate certain objects or situations with fear and that they would learn to avoid what frightens them or adopt rituals that help them tame their fear. Another theory is that people with OCD misinterpret their own thoughts to the point of dread.

Biological factors

Research into the biological causes and effects of OCD has revealed a link between the disorder and certain neurotransmitters in the brain, such as serotonin, dopamine, and glutamate. Serotonin plays a role in regulating mood, aggression, impulse control, sleep, appetite, body temperature and pain.

Researchers have also found that people with OCD appear to have higher-than-normal activity in areas of the brain associated with emotion and action regulation.

Genetic factors

OCD appears to be a “family trait.” Genetic factors are believed to play a significant role in the tendency to fall into obsessions and compulsions. According to research studies, no single gene is associated with OCD.

Rather, it appears that several combinations of different genes may contribute to the total risk of developing OCD.

The person should talk to his or her doctor or a mental health worker. In the early stages, a simple awareness, explanation and a good dose of willpower may be all that is needed to get rid of the disorder.

If the obsession and compulsion have become an unavoidable ritual, follow-up with a counsellor will probably be necessary. Pharmacotherapy can help reduce the symptoms of OCD and decrease anxiety. Behavioural psychotherapy can then be initiated.

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