10 FAQs on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

10 FAQs on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Q1. What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

OCD is a brain and behaviour disorder that falls within the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) category of anxiety disorders. It is characterized by obsessions and compulsions that interfere with day-to-day functioning and cause extreme anxiety in those who are affected. According to research, OCD may be caused by communication issues between the frontal lobes and deeper brain areas. Serotonin is a chemical messenger that is used by these brain regions. Images of the brain in action also demonstrate how, in certain cases, serotonin-based medications or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) might restore the brain circuits implicated in OCD.

OCD is a chronic illness characterized by uncontrollably recurrent thoughts (called obsessions), repetitive activities (called compulsions), or both. OCD sufferers experience protracted symptoms that can be extremely upsetting or interfere with day-to-day activities. Even though they are aware that their compulsions and obsessions are excessive and illogical, people with OCD often find it difficult to resist or control them. OCD can consume a significant amount of a person’s day and negatively impact relationships with family, friends, job, and school.

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Q2. What are the Symptoms of OCD?

OCD is characterized by obsessions and compulsions that interfere with day-to-day functioning and cause extreme anxiety in those who are affected. Persistent ideas, thoughts, urges, or pictures that are felt as inappropriate and obtrusive and that significantly increase anxiety or suffering are called obsessions. Recurrent thoughts about contamination, doubts, having to have things in a specific order, violent or horrifying desires, and sexual imagery are the most common types of obsessions. Compulsions are people’s attempts to stifle these urges or thoughts or to counteract them with another idea or behaviour. These can be mental exercises like counting, praying, or silently repeating sentences, or they can be repetitive behaviours like washing your hands, placing orders or checking on things.

  • Aversion to filth or pollution.
  • Doubting and finding it hard to accept ambiguity.
  • Requiring symmetry and order in everything.
  • Violent or horrifying ideas about going crazy and hurting someone or yourself.
  • Unwanted ideas, such as hostility or discussions about religion or sex.
  • Compulsive Cleaning and washing
  • Constantly Verifying Actions or Circumstances
  • Counting the Necessities
  • Observing a rigid schedule
  • Requesting assurance repeatedly
Q3. What are the Risk Factors for OCD?

Risk factors are traits that occur before and are linked to a higher probability of unfavourable consequences. These traits might be biological, psychological, familial, community, or cultural. Around the world, OCD is a prevalent illness that affects adults, adolescents, and children. The majority receive a diagnosis by the time they are 19 years old, with boys usually starting at a younger age than girls, while cases of onset beyond age 35 do occur. OCD’s aetiology is uncertain, yet risk factors include:

  • Molecular Biology
  • Brain Organization
  • Setting for Brain Functioning

Experts are uncertain about OCD’s precise aetiology. It is believed that the environment, genetics, and anomalies of the brain all play a part. Often, it begins in adolescence or early adulthood. However, it can also begin in early life. The start of OCD can be precipitated by traumatic life events, especially those that happened during childhood or adolescence. Examples of these traumas include physical and sexual abuse, parent or loved one death, parent divorce, and witnessing marital violence.

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Q4. At What Age Does OCD Begin?

OCD can develop at any age, starting in preschool and lasting throughout adulthood. Males often experience the onset of the condition between the ages of 6 and 15 and females between the ages of 20 and 29. The rates at which men and women develop OCD are comparable, and it has been seen in people of all ages, from young children to elderly adults. OCD usually manifests in adolescence, while it can sometimes occur in early adulthood or infancy. It usually develops gradually, but it can sometimes happen quickly in certain situations. It is therefore comparable to having diabetes or asthma. Although there is currently no treatment, you can manage it and get well. This is a potential that, even when it isn’t impacting your life, is always present in the background. OCD typically first manifests before the age of 25, frequently during infancy or adolescence. Men appear to have an earlier mean age of onset than women when it comes to treatment-seeking individuals.

Q5. Is OCD Inherited?

Studies reveal that OCD does run in families and that genetics is probably involved in the disorder’s onset. However, the illness appears to be partially caused by genes; instead, a mix of genetic vulnerability and environmental factors is believed to be at play. There seems to be a difference in the likelihood of inheriting the illness between families. Nevertheless, the majority of people who have a close family with OCD will not go on to have the disorder themselves.

OCD is a hereditary condition. There is a 15–25% risk that if one parent has OCD, the child will follow suit. There is a 50% risk that a child will develop OCD if both parents do. Between the ages of three and seven, children may begin to exhibit behaviours that are similar to OCD. However, it appears that 45% of the cases were caused by OCD-specific causes. Van Grootheest and colleagues summarized the research done before 2006 and concluded that “in children, obsessive-compulsive (OC) symptoms are heritable, with genetic influences in the range of 45% to 65%”.

Q6. How can we diagnose one suffering From OCD?

OCD cannot be diagnosed with laboratory or brain imaging studies. A mental health professional’s observation and evaluation of the patient’s symptoms serve as the basis for the diagnosis. It cannot be tested for. After questioning you about your symptoms and past medical and mental health issues, a healthcare professional determines the diagnosis. To diagnose OCD, medical professionals refer to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V) criteria.

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Following these steps can assist in diagnosing obsessive-compulsive disorder: psychological assessment. To identify if you have obsessions or compulsive behaviours that negatively impact your quality of life, this involves talking about your thoughts, feelings, symptoms, and behavioural patterns. The four main components of the OCD cycle are compulsions, anxiety, obsessions, and momentary respite. It is referred to as a “vicious” cycle because, once you are dragged into it, it becomes increasingly powerful and impossible for you to escape.

Q7. What Treatments Are Available?

Usually, medication, psychotherapy, or a mix of the two are used to treat OCD. Even while the majority of OCD patients get better with treatment, some still have symptoms. Anxiety, despair, and body dysmorphic disorder—a condition in which a person wrongly believes that a part of their body is abnormal—are among the mental illnesses that can coexist with OCD. When choosing a course of treatment, it’s critical to take these other disorders into account.

Conversing Therapy:

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) combined with exposure and response prevention (ERP) is typically used in treating OCD. Working with your therapist to dissect your issues into their parts, such as your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours, will help you confront your fears and obsessive thoughts without counteracting them with compulsive behaviours. You will begin by addressing the situations that cause the least amount of anxiety before moving on to more challenging thoughts. Even though the treatment is labour-intensive, many people discover that their anxiety gradually lessens or disappears when they face their obsessions.


Talking therapy may not be enough to treat your OCD, especially if it is fairly severe. The most common medications prescribed are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which are a class of antidepressants that work by raising serotonin levels in the brain to treat OCD symptoms. You may need to take an SSRI for up to 12 weeks before you start to feel better.

Q8. How Effective Are Treatments for OCD?

As of right now, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) can only be effectively treated with one kind of medication. In between 40% and 60% of OCD patients, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as clomipramine, have been demonstrated to lessen symptoms. The effectiveness of cognitive behavioural therapy, or CBT, has also been demonstrated. Individuals who benefit from medication typically report 40–60% reductions in OCD symptoms, but those who benefit from cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) frequently report 60–80% reductions in OCD symptoms.

Treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder can help manage symptoms so they don’t interfere with daily life, but it may not be able to completely eradicate the condition. Some people may require long-term, continuous, or more severe treatment, depending on the severity of their OCD.

Q9. Do you have Frequent unwanted thoughts that seem Uncontrollable in OCD?

Obsessions with OCD are intrusive, distressing, and unwelcome thoughts, urges, or visions that recur repeatedly and cause anxiety. You could try to ignore them or eliminate them by engaging in a ritual or compulsive action. Usually, these obsessions interfere with your ability to focus or complete other tasks. Not every ritual or habit is a compulsion, and not every repeated idea is an obsession. On the other hand, most OCD sufferers are unable to manage their compulsions or obsessions, even when they are excessive.

Q10. Is OCD a Brain Disease?

Specific brain abnormalities, specifically hyperactivity in a group of brain regions referred to as the orbitofrontal cortex, the anterior thalamus, the anterior cingulate cortex, and the basal ganglia, are linked to OCD. In most cases, therapies that alleviate symptoms also address these
anomalies in the brain. However, OCD is also a psychological disorder that is shaped by personal experiences. In many circumstances, specialized psychotherapy is just as successful as medication—possibly even more so in others. One of the major mysteries of psychiatry is the connection between abnormalities of the brain and psychiatric disorders.

It is unclear which occurs “first”: a pattern of obsessional and compulsive behaviour developing and manifesting itself in brain function, or a fundamental brain malfunction causing the symptoms, may be inherited. The answer is probably both. Life experiences may then influence who develops OCD and who does not, as well as the nature of their symptoms. Underlying genetic and other biological factors likely set the stage and determine why one person is more likely than another to develop the disorder.

Summing Up

Long-term OCD is characterized by an individual’s inability to regulate recurrent, uncontrollable thoughts (called obsessions), compulsive activities (called compulsions), or both. Patients experience protracted symptoms that can be extremely upsetting or interfere with day-to-day activities. Lastly, OCD patients not only react well to treatment but some even see a major improvement in their symptoms, occasionally going into remission. Several important guidelines need to be emphasized while managing patients who are not responding to treatment.

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