Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder can be described in one word, torture.

Being forced to think horrific or disgusting thoughts that you don’t want to think and engage in pointless time-wasting behaviors you don’t want to do, is torture. Feeling that you are slipping into insanity is torture. Every waking moment, fearing/feeling something horrible is about to happen is torture.

Each persons’ Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a little different in the details and intensity. However, the hallmark features of OCD are generally the same for everyone who experiences it -Thoughts (obsessions), Actions (compulsive behaviors), and Intrusive Thoughts.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a genetically inherited disorder. The Prevalence Rate of OCD in the population is between 1 and 3%, both of which are likely underestimations.

OCD has very strong Biological Underpinnings, the primary nature of which is a deficiency in the neurotransmitter –serotonin. Comparably, the person who is diabetic does not have enough insulin. The person with OCD does not have enough serotonin. Give the person with diabetes insulin, and they function fine. Give the person with OCD an SSRI, and they function fine.

Treatment: The most effective therapy for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is Exposure with Response Prevention (EWRP), combined with a medication. EWRP is a technique where the person works at their own pace to progressively reduce their engagement with OCD symptoms until they fade. Treatment resistant Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder exists, but is rare and arguably only presents in approximately 15% of those who have OCD.

Prognosis: The outcomes for those with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is very good. Generally, most people respond to medications that help improve serotonin. With a combination of therapeutic techniques and the right medication & dose, most people are able to achieve approximately 95% remission of most OCD symptoms.

Research: Many leading medical schools are currently engaging in significant research on OCD. Several studies are examining the brain areas involved in OCD, including the caudate nucleus, the putamen, and others.

Other OCD research is focusing on the role Glutamate (a neurotransmitter) plays in the inhibitory process, and other research is starting to explore the role gut enzymes may have in under-synthesizing serotonin. On a very exciting note, Johns Hopkins Hospital is currently researching where OCD exists on the human genome.