Medical Q&As

Obsessive compulsive disorder - explain?

I have been diagnosed with Compulsive Obsessive Disorder. Could you please explain?

The essential feature of this disorder is recurrent obsessional thoughts or compulsive acts. Obsessional thoughts are ideas or impulses that enter the individual\\\'s mind again and again, which the sufferer often tries unsuccessfully to resist. Compulsive acts often take the form of repetitive acts or rituals that are repeated many times. Obsessive compulsive disorder is equally common in men and women with the usual time of onset being in childhood or early adult life. The behaviour is usually recognized by the individual as being pointless or ineffectual and repeated attempts are made to resist it. In very long-standing cases resistance may be minimal. In some cases it may contribute to significant depression. In order to make a definitive diagnosis, obsessional symptoms or compulsive acts, or both, must be present on most days for at least 2 successive weeks and be a source of distress or interference with activities. The cause of the condition is unknown but research evidence suggests that the disorder may be due to an imbalance of neurotransmitters, which are chemical messengers within the brain. Much of the research is focussed on one particular neurotransmitter called serotonin. Treatment is available in the form of behavioural therapy and medication. The particular class of drugs that work best for this condition are called SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), which are also widely used in the treatment of depression. As the name suggests these drugs produce their particular beneficial effect because of their impact on serotonin in the brain.