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Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

An anxiety disorder in which a person has intrusive ideas, thoughts, or images that occur repeatedly, and in which he or she feels driven to perform certain behaviors over and over again. For example, a person may worry all the time about germs and so will wash his or her hands over and over again.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Cancer Institute)

About Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Forgetting to do something important when you leave home — like turning off the stove or locking the door — is a common worry. And it might be a good idea to double-check if you are not absolutely sure. But some people are so worried about forgetting those kinds of things that they feel the urge to check over and over again, and that urge may gradually come to dominate their life. Some people may constantly wash their hands because they are afraid of germs, while others cannot keep from always needing to count things. Regardless of the kind of ritual they may have, people with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are simply unable to stop.

Symptoms

Obsessive-compulsive disorder covers both obsessive thoughts and compulsive behavior. Obsessive thoughts are constant and repetitive thoughts that are very hard to shake. Although someone with OCD feels that the thoughts are nonsensical and unpleasant, it is hard to simply stop them using willpower alone... Read more about Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Behavioural and cognitive‐behavioural therapy for obsessive‐compulsive disorder (OCD) in children and adolescents

The onset of obsessive‐compulsive disorder often occurs in childhood and adolescence. Paediatric OCD can be an extremely debilitating disorder, resulting in high levels of distress, impairment and disruption of psychosocial development. It also has a considerable impact on other family members. While there is evidence that medication can reduce symptoms, behavioural and cognitive‐behavioural therapy (BT/CBT) are often proposed as acceptable alternative treatments. These therapies include assisting the child to better tolerate the anxiety‐provoking situations and thoughts without the use of compulsive behaviour to manage their anxiety, psycho‐educationabout anxiety and OCD; cognitive therapy in which the child is helped to learn to identify and challenge unhelpful ways of thinking; and parental support.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) for the treatment of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

Transcranial magnetic stimulation was introduced as neurophysiological technique in 1985 when Anthony Barker and his team developed a compact machine that permitted a non‐invasive stimulation of the cerebral cortex. In addition it has been suggested that TMS could have therapeutic potential. Its' capability for excitation or inhibition of cortical areas in a non‐invasive way represents a remarkable advance in neuroscience researches. Some studies have evaluated the therapeutic effects of repetitive TMS in controlled studies on patients with obsessive‐compulsive disorder observing some changes in their behaviour in terms of compulsive urges or improvements in mood. This review has evaluated the current evidence for TMS as a therapeutic treatment for obsessive‐compulsive disorder (OCD). There is a lack of evidence for the effect of TMS in the treatment of OCD.

Second‐generation antipsychotic drugs for obsessive compulsive disorder

This review found some trials comparing the effects of adding second‐generation antipsychotic drugs or placebo to antidepressants in obsessive compulsive disorder. There were only 11 trials on three second‐generation antipsychotic drugs (olanzapine, quetiapine and risperidone). While not much can be said about olanzapine, quetiapine and risperidone showed some efficacy benefit, but also adverse effects.

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Summaries for consumers

Obsessive-compulsive disorder: Treatment options for obsessive compulsive disorder

Obsessive-compulsive disorder can really interfere with everyday activities and make it almost impossible to live a normal life. But there are treatments that can help to get it under control: particularly cognitive behavioral therapy, but medication too. People with obsessive-compulsive behavior (OCD) are haunted by constant repetitive thoughts or feel compelled to do things that they realize are pointless and don't want to do. Some are so afraid of germs that they constantly wash their hands. Others might check whether they have really turned off the oven over and over again, or can't stop constantly counting to 20. These kinds of compulsive thoughts and behaviors may seem exaggerated or strange. But they help people with OCD to feel calm for a while. Although they themselves almost always realize that their behavior is causing problems, it is difficult for them to stop for good on their own. When they try to suppress these urges, people with OCD may tense up or feel frightened. Psychological treatment and medications can help to manage this kind of behavior.

Behavioural and cognitive‐behavioural therapy for obsessive‐compulsive disorder (OCD) in children and adolescents

The onset of obsessive‐compulsive disorder often occurs in childhood and adolescence. Paediatric OCD can be an extremely debilitating disorder, resulting in high levels of distress, impairment and disruption of psychosocial development. It also has a considerable impact on other family members. While there is evidence that medication can reduce symptoms, behavioural and cognitive‐behavioural therapy (BT/CBT) are often proposed as acceptable alternative treatments. These therapies include assisting the child to better tolerate the anxiety‐provoking situations and thoughts without the use of compulsive behaviour to manage their anxiety, psycho‐educationabout anxiety and OCD; cognitive therapy in which the child is helped to learn to identify and challenge unhelpful ways of thinking; and parental support.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) for the treatment of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

Transcranial magnetic stimulation was introduced as neurophysiological technique in 1985 when Anthony Barker and his team developed a compact machine that permitted a non‐invasive stimulation of the cerebral cortex. In addition it has been suggested that TMS could have therapeutic potential. Its' capability for excitation or inhibition of cortical areas in a non‐invasive way represents a remarkable advance in neuroscience researches. Some studies have evaluated the therapeutic effects of repetitive TMS in controlled studies on patients with obsessive‐compulsive disorder observing some changes in their behaviour in terms of compulsive urges or improvements in mood. This review has evaluated the current evidence for TMS as a therapeutic treatment for obsessive‐compulsive disorder (OCD). There is a lack of evidence for the effect of TMS in the treatment of OCD.

See all (26)

More about Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

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Also called: Obsessive compulsive disorder

See Also: Trichotillomania

Other terms to know:
Anxiety, Anxiety Disorders

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