Obsessions are intrusive, irrational thoughts that drive a person to perform certain behaviors repeatedly. For example, a person may become obsessed with cleanliness and wash their hands continuously. OCD can affect anyone and cause significant interference in their lives. Psychiatric evaluation and treatment can help manage the symptoms of OCD.
What causes OCD?
There is a large body of scientific evidence that suggests OCD is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. Clinical researchers have found that certain brain regions, such as the basal ganglia and frontal lobe regions, appear to be overactive in people with OCD. They have also identified abnormal levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin in affected patients. OCD is a chronic disease that will not go away on its own and requires treatment. Fortunately, there are now effective treatments available that can help reduce the debilitating symptoms of this disease. OCD usually starts at an early age, often before adolescence. If left untreated, it tends to get worse as the person gets older.
Symptoms of OCD
People with OCD may experience fear of contamination or dirt, doubts and have difficulty tolerating uncertainty, needing things orderly and symmetrical, aggressive or horrific thoughts about losing control and harming themselves or others, unwanted thoughts, including aggression, or sexual or religious subjects, fear of being contaminated by touching objects others have touched, doubts that you’ve locked the door or turned off the stove, intense stress when objects aren’t orderly or facing a certain way, images of driving your car into a crowd of people, thoughts about shouting obscenities or acting inappropriately in public, unpleasant sexual images, and avoidance of situations that can trigger obsessions, such as shaking hands.
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