Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

woman with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder lining up pencils so they are straight

What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, commonly referred to as OCD, is a serious disorder – often debilitating – that is characterized by patterns of undesired thoughts, ideas, or sensations (obsessions) which lead to repeated responses (compulsions). Often, the combination of these behaviors interferes significantly with regular, daily activities and causes extreme distress.

Most people encounter unexpected thoughts on occasion, but they are easily pushed aside and do not create any lingering problems. OCD is different. Attempts to reject or ignore these obsessions can create further stress and anxiety. Without appropriate assistance, those suffering from OCD are not able to move past their intrusive thoughts and feel compelled to act in response, creating the pattern of obsessive behaviors and compulsive responses.

In many instances, OCD intensifies distinct issues. Examples of these items include:

  • Fear of germs or contamination
  • Insistence on order and precision
  • Concern over sexual fantasies or visions
  • Anxiety over potential obscene or insulting outbursts

What causes Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

Though a precise origin of OCD has not been identified, studies have helped us understand that the disorder stems from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. OCD tends to run in families, and we believe that genes contribute toward the progression of OCD. However, we are unconvinced that genes are the sole factor responsible for the disorder. Studies have also found that environmental factors play a role in aggravating the condition and intensify OCD’s symptoms. Read more on OCD and it’s causes here.

person obsessively washing hands

What symptoms are associated with OCD?

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder produces a wide range and severity of symptoms. Accordingly, an exhaustive list is impossible to produce. However, some of the more common symptoms include:

  • Ritualistic behavior (e.g., excessive cleaning)
  • Repetitive checking (e.g., ensuring that the oven is off)
  • Echoing phrases over and over (e.g., repeating words or names)
  • Organizational quirks (e.g., arranging things in a specific way)
  • Sequential touching (e.g., patterns when contacting objects)

These and other symptoms of OCD often begin relatively mild, growing over time. Stress and anxiety also tend to bring out symptoms in those who suffer OCD.

Untreated, symptoms will worsen over time and can ultimately become debilitating to the patient.

What are the Consequences of OCD?

Naturally, the symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder alone can provide significant disruption in one’s quality of life. However, when unaddressed, these symptoms can lead to further complications including:

  • Memory problems
  • Troubled relationships
  • Substance abuse
  • Physical and emotional fatigue
  • Depression
  • Hysteria
  • Suicidal tendencies

For overall health and wellness, it is important to pinpoint OCD early to begin treatment and initiate recovery. We at Bridgepoint look forward to walking you and your loved ones through the healing process.


How do you diagnose Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

Though OCD may seem obvious from the symptoms and behaviors listed above, it is imperative to identify the specific root cause of the disorder. Studies of OCD patients have shown a disproportionate level of blood flow in two specific regions of the brain, the basil ganglia and the anterior cingulate gyrus.

The basil ganglia region is where habitual behaviors originate, and it helps to control anxiety levels throughout the body. Overactive basil ganglia can translate into increased angst and nervousness as well as magnified levels of worry.

The anterior cingulate gyrus (ACG) helps control a person’s level of focus and attention, especially when moving from one subject to another. Elevated levels of activity in the ACG result in people having difficulty in shifting from one area of focus to another. Thus, they end up frozen in a pattern of behavior.

What treatment options exist for OCD?

We have seen that many mental health disorders can be misdiagnosed. Because of so many coinciding symptoms, OCD is one of most often misdiagnosed disorders. Unfortunately, cases of OCD have been inaccurately identified as PTSD, attention deficit disorder, bipolar disorder, autism, and other disorders that present similarly.

An accurate diagnosis is crucial to healing of any disorder. And, an improper treatment can be harmful, especially with OCD. The patient’s condition may likely worsen under the wrong management. That’s why we at Bridgepoint take critical steps to ensure we identify correctly the true nature of your issue.

When it comes to treatment, OCD should be evaluated on a case by case basis. There is no singular course for all OCD patients. We apply the appropriate treatment options depending on the needs of each patient. Subsequently, we apply a range of treatment options, listed below with a brief description:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – Through certain environments, patients are confronted with their situations and fears while training them to respond in a healthier manner, thus overriding the tendencies that OCD produces.
  • Medication – Certain medications can be effective in treating OCD. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, commonly used to treat depression, have shown to have a positive effect on OCD patients when used in higher doses. Other medications may be appropriate as well, depending on the situation.
  • Neurosurgical – Deep brain stimulation therapy has proven effective for patients who do not respond to other treatments. This is a developing area that shows great promise.
  • Interventions – Sometimes OCD patients gain success when caregivers provide additional exposure and support to treatments at home in addition to office visits.
  • Self Care – Patients can learn mitigation techniques such as meditation and relaxation that aid during recovery in addition to focusing on healthy lifestyle choices for greater overall wholeness.

Whatever the appropriate action, the physicians and staff at Bridgepoint stand ready to walk you through your recovery process and overcome the stress and anxiety that OCD brings.


What do I do to resolve my OCD?

Don’t delay. As we point out above, OCD can lead to further complications when untreated.

You don’t have to live with OCD. Contact us today to set up a review of your situation so that we can accurately identify and begin to treat the cause of your symptoms.