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The Many faces of OCD and its Treatment

OCD – the name, for many is associated with the image of a woman cleaning and washing on repeat mode, as if her life depended on it. True. But today I will walk you through the varied presentation and treatment for OCD, short for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Obsession is a thought that keeps on bugging you. You know it is futile. But you simply cannot get it out of your head. You cannot focus on the task at hand. In short, you do not get any fruitful work done throughout the day. For a person living with that, it can be a nightmare.

So what kind of thoughts are these? I will share a few I came across in my clinical practice. A school teacher kept thinking the world would collide with other planets and life as we know would come to end one fine morning. Another was convinced that if she drank from a red water bottle the water would turn to blood. Yet another young lady could not stop herself from counting to 101 before she set about any task. And if she was interrupted during this task, she would start all over again. That reminds me of a very interesting case of an elderly lady who after her husband’s death completely confined herself to her home. The reason she did that was bewildering. Every time she met someone, she had these mental images of that person walking all over her body, albeit as a lilliputian version of himself/herself. Note that these were intelligent people who understood he folly of such thoughts, but the irony is they could not stop thinking.

Oh, did I mention that OCD is not just about thoughts? You also have a healthy dose of imagery involved, as in the case above. A young man refused to go to family gatherings and never ever looked a woman in the eye, no matter how old she was. Though initially family members took him to be extremely shy, the real story was far more interesting. He had these sexually charged images involving any woman he met. He simply could not stop. As long as the woman was there, he kept on seeing the images before his eyes. It was embarrassing and distressing, to say the least. Not that he was a pervert. In fact he was a brilliant student and a sweet decent boy. Imagine his guilt!
I could go on and on. Over years of clinical practice, I have come across a variety of such distressed souls. What I have realized is that when a person seeks treatment for OCD, the first thing they are looking for is a compassionate listener. If the doctor cannot lend a patient ear to the patient, no matter how accomplished he/she is, the patient is never reassured. And when someone is in pain and on the verge of giving up, they need their faith.

If you are suffering from this disorder and reading my blog, know that treatment for OCD exists. OCD is caused by chemical imbalances in the brain that can be put right by medications. We also recommend intense therapy as an add-on. Remember that treatment options are many, but what makes the difference at the end of the day is whether you trust your doctor and are willing to participate in the treatment whole-heartedly. As my former patients tell me, it is their belief in treatment that pulled them through. I am sure we can do the same for you.
Till next time, if you have any queries feel free to post them on my website. Stay happy and stress-free!