Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a mental disorder which was once considered a rare occurrence in the general populace for many years. However, research data has shown that the condition is far more prevalent than such disorders as panic disorder, schizophrenia or even bipolar disorder. Indeed, it is now known that in any population of adults aged 18 to 54 there are at least 2.3% who are grappling with OCD.
In the U.S. data shows that 3.3 million people, a third of whom are children are suffering form OCD. Researchers have also uncovered that most people start getting affected by OCD by the time they are 19. While OCD affects people equally across different demographic divisions, statistics show that among children, boys are more likely to suffer from OCD than girls.
What is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?
OCD, short for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, is a common and chronic anxiety disorder characterized by recurring, uncontrollable, undesirable ideas, thoughts and sensations which compel one to repeat a behavior over and over again. The behavior may be washing hands repeatedly, ostensibly to fend off germs or it may be in the form of thoughts about sex or self-harm.
What Causes Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?
Research on mental health has shown that OCD is caused by neurobiological processes. What is not as clearly understood is how it happens. Research has however shown that OCD can be tied to certain mental, genetic and environmental factors.
Genetic Explanation for OCD
A study published by the National Institutes of Health showed that people suffering from OCD and similar mental disorders are likely to have a certain mutation of the Human Serotonin Transporter Gene (hSERT).
OCD and Brain Structure and Function
A comprehensive study of brain imaging scans showed that people with OCD are more likely to have certain frontal cortex and subcortical structures in the brain. However, the exact nature of these structural differences is not understood and research is ongoing.
Environmental Factors Behind OCD
Environmental factors have been shown to have an effect on likelihood of developing OCD. People who have undergone trauma or serious brain injury are likely to suffer from OCD. This is also true for people who have undergone physical, emotional or sexual abuse as children.
Symptoms of OCD
Most people affected by OCD exhibit both compulsions and obsessions in their behavior. However, there are some who only exhibit either an obsession or a compulsive behavior.
OCD patients who are classified as obsessive may display characters like
- Fear of contamination
- Persistent and recurring unwanted ideas
- Impulses to turn aggressive
- Thoughts of causing harm or injuring others
- Relentless sexual obsession
- Feelings of being under eminent danger
These are some of the classic compulsive behaviors which can lead to clinical diagnosis of OCD
- Washing or disinfecting hands repeatedly
- Constantly checking and rechecking to see if the door and windows are locked securely
- Cleaning items or the house too often
- Repeatedly counting items
- Making prayers and other religious rituals repeatedly owing to fear of harm or evil
- Counting items time and again
- Hoarding of items and cash
Western Medical Treatments for OCD
Admittedly, there is no standard treatment that has been proven to completely eradicate OCD in patients. However, in conventional Western mental health practice there is consensus that certain procedures and treatments can offer relief from the worst symptoms of OCD. There is even evidence that certain treatments, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, that show effective relief in up to 40-60% of all patients treated. Antidepressant medication is also often prescribed to reduce the symptoms of OCD.
Treating OCD Using Acupuncture
There is a growing body of evidence showing that acupuncture can be used effectively to treat and manage OCD as well as other mental disorders. Most notable is its use as an alternative treatment approach where conventional medication has failed to deliver results.
The use of acupuncture in the treatment of OCD became widespread after the physiotherapeutic method was seen to deliver positive change in management of such psychological disorders as depression and phobias. Further research showed that acupuncture helped OCD patients better deal with their symptoms when it was used in combination with certain herbal medications. Dr. Hsu, a leading proponent of acupuncture and other Oriental approaches to health and wellness says that acupuncture works effectively with OCD patients because it is very key in stimulation of sections of the brain associated with emotional control.
For a long time, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder was a poorly understood mental condition at the periphery of psychological practice and research. However, recently it has gained more prominence and acceptance among practitioners and the research findings have revolutionized its treatment and management. There have been some novel approaches being adopted for treating the condition. Of these, acupuncture is proving to be as effective as it is reliable. More research is being carried out to understand the connection between acupuncture and treatment of OCD but in the meantime, patients are going to welcome the relief they find from a condition that is often debilitating.
If you’re suffering with OCD let Dr. Cheryl Yelverton help. She has experience using acupuncture to reverse the symptoms of many psychological conditions such as OCD. Consultations are free so give a call today!