Imagine that each time you had an undesirable thought you became fixated on it so much so that it causes you extensive fear and anxiety. Now, imagine that in order to rid yourself of those feelings, you had to complete a series of time consuming, ritualistic actions each time you had the triggering thought. This is the cyclic process that plagues those with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) every single day. Most of us are able to deal with negative, unpleasant thoughts in a way that enables us to move on from them relatively quickly. For those with OCD, this is not the case; negative thoughts spiral out of control, causing severe functional impairment. If you have ever asked yourself: “Do I have OCD?” – this article will help you figure out the answer.
What is OCD? It is a mental condition consisting of unwanted, obsessive thoughts, often followed by a ritualistic behavior that is used to alleviate the anxiety caused by such thoughts. The National Institute of Mental Health notes that approximately 1.0% of adults in the United States have obsessive-compulsive disorder. In other words, every one in 200 people has OCD, says Understanding OCD. Common signs of OCD include the following:
- Fear of hurting oneself or others
- Fear of contamination (germs)
- Intrusive sexual and violent thoughts
- Religious/moral fixation
- Necessity for very specific order/symmetry
- Excessive superstition
- Excessive double-checking
- Repeatedly checking on loved ones
- Excessive praying
- Counting, tapping, or repeating words
- Excessive washing and cleaning
- Meticulously arranging items
- Hoarding seemingly useless items
Before you can access any OCD treatments, you will have to exhibit particular signs of OCD. The American Psychological Association has determined the necessary criteria that a person must meet before being given a formal diagnosis. This information is available in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which is the standard handbook that physicians consult when assessing patients with mental illnesses. There are four crucial criteria that must be met before you can officially be diagnosed with OCD:
- The presence of obsessions, compulsions or both.
- The obsessions or compulsions are time-consuming (lasting more than an hour), or cause clinically significant social, occupational, etc. interruption.
- The obsessive-compulsive symptoms must not be attributed to physiological effects of a substance (e.g. drug abuse, medication) or another medical condition.
- The symptoms are not caused by another mental condition.
Who Gets OCD?
It is possible for signs of OCD to occur at any point during your life, but there are typically two age ranges where onset is most common. Onset is observed most commonly between 8 and 12, as well as from late adolescence to early adulthood, says The International OCD Foundation. The average age of onset is 19 years old, states The National Institute of Mental Health. Men and women are affected equally.
To date, the most common OCD treatments are psychotropic medications and psychotherapy. It is typical for medication and therapy to be combined to optimize the benefits of both; medication helps alleviate the symptoms, while psychotherapy teaches you positive skills to help you maintain your mental health.
Recently, a new treatment option has been made available. It is called deep transcranial magnetic stimulation (dTMS), and utilizes electromagnetic waves to help reduce signs of OCD. During the procedure, a helmet filled with electric coils is placed on the head, and a series of electromagnetic pulses are delivered to areas of the brain believed to contribute to the occurrence of obsessive-compulsive symptoms. In a study that aimed to establish the efficacy of dTMS, 41 people with OCD received high frequency, low frequency, or placebo dTMS. Treatment was administered seven days a week, for five consecutive weeks. Each session lasted for a period of 15 minutes. Those in the high frequency group showed a 28% symptom reduction, while low frequency decreased symptoms by 12%, and placebo by 5%, says Medscape. The positive effects were felt for three months after the conclusion of the study.
Deep transcranial magnetic stimulation is a non-invasive procedure, and is pain free. The side effects are minimal for the majority of people, consisting of headaches and pain at the application site. On rare occasions, more serious side effects have been experienced (such as seizures), though most people tolerate the treatment very well.
What is OCD? It is a mental disorder that causes unwanted, distressing thoughts that can only be placated with the performance of certain behaviors. OCD is a challenging condition to live with, as the resulting anxiety makes functioning on a normal level quite difficult. If you are struggling with obsessive-compulsive disorder, there are many treatment options available, including deep transcranial magnetic stimulation, to help you successfully manage your symptoms.
Westside Neurotherapeutics offers Deep TMS treatments for OCD in Los Angeles. For more information, contact them by phone at 310.946.0008 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.