Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Symptoms and Treatments

Topic: Psychiatry
Words: 859 Pages: 3


Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a severe mental health and behavioral disorder. It presents traditionally with intrusive thoughts that translate into patients using various compulsions and rituals to reduce obsessive thought patterns (Brock & Hany, 2022). OCD can substantially impact the quality of life of the affected persons and result in a considerable decline in function (Brock & Hany, 2022). This essay is dedicated to OCD, the history of the disease, its symptoms, available treatments, as well as recent research on the topic.


As with other physical and mental health conditions, it can be assumed that OCD existed for centuries before receiving the modern definition. One of the first records of OCD can be traced back to the 14th century, with the obsessive concern about one’s religious sins and performing rituals to earn atonement being defined as scrupulosity (NOCD, 2022). Meanwhile, the first medical research on OCD took place in the 17th century, with physicians recording the symptoms and distinguishing different subtypes, including agoraphobia (NOCD, 2022). With the further advancement in psychology and different research methods, psychologists arrived at the modern understanding of the disease and managed to develop effective treatments.


OCD, as a condition with obsessions paired with compulsions, can present in children, adolescents, and adults. According to Nazeer et al. (2020), OCD is diagnosed in approximately 4% of persons throughout the world, with the majority of the diagnosed individuals developing a chronic condition. In the United States, the lifetime prevalence of the condition among adults is estimated at 2.3%, with a higher occurrence rate in females (National Institute of Mental Health, 2018). It should be noted that 8 in 10 people with OCD experience an early onset condition that develops before the age of 18 (Nazeer et al., 2020). Thus, epidemiological data indicate that OCD is not a highly common disorder. Nevertheless, it should be considered one of the most handicapping mental health conditions.


Different etiological factors can explain the development of OCD in persons. Individuals can learn compulsions and develop the condition as a mechanism to manage anxiety (Nazeer et al., 2020). In addition, OCD can be neurological in nature, with the disorder progressing due to changes in the brain. Specifically, alterations in the white brain matter and cortico-striatal-thalamo-cortical circuits can cause OCD (Nazeer et al., 2020). Furthermore, OCD in children can occur as an immunological response to inflammatory damage to white blood cells after infection (Nazeer et al., 2020). In particular, up to 10% of cases in children occur in patients with streptococcal infections (Brock & Hany, 2022). In addition, the presence of specific gastrointestinal microbes can trigger the development of different mental health disorders, including OCD (Nazeer et al., 2020). It should be noted that there is a genetic and hereditary element to the condition etiology.


OCD is a serious condition that presents with both obsessions and compulsions. However, patients often may fail to realize they have obsessive-compulsive tendencies if they deem them reasonable and if they do not significantly interfere with daily life. OCD-related obsessions can be defined as repeated and unwanted thoughts and urges that cause discomfort and nervousness (Mayo Clinic, 2020). Obsessive thoughts can impede functioning as they may appear during other activities. Meanwhile, OCD compulsions are repetitive behaviors that are utilized to decrease the anxiety associated with the obsessive urges (Mayo Clinic, 2020). Thus, patients develop unique rituals to cope with their obsessions. For example, if a patient has an obsessive fear of getting sick, they may develop such rituals as compulsive hand-washing after touching unsterilized surfaces. It should be noted that the obsessions and compulsions in persons with OCD can present with different levels of severity.


There are several approaches to the treatment of OCD in patients. Psychotherapeutic and pharmacotherapeutic management remain the leading therapies for the condition. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is often utilized for OCD treatment and is considered highly efficient (Nazeer et al., 2020). Pharmacotherapeutic approaches include the use of such medications as clomipramine, sertraline, paroxetine, fluoxetine, and fluvoxamine (Nazeer et al., 2020). In addition, antipsychotic medication can be prescribed to augment serotonergic agents and alleviate OCD symptoms (Nazeer et al., 2020). It should be noted that different approaches can be combined to provide the best results.

Latest Research

OCD remains a focus of research from the point of view of the treatment methods, etiology, and pathophysiology. For example, the progression and treatment of OCD are investigated in patients with psychiatric comorbidities (Kahn et al., 2021). The effect of deep brain stimulation on patients with OCD, as well as other mental health conditions, is examined and is found to be highly effective (Kahn et al., 2021). Overall, numerous research studies on the disorder are being conducted.


In summary, OCD is a serious condition that can impact the quality of life in the diagnosed patients through the presence of obsessive thoughts and compulsive rituals implemented to combat them. The disorder does not have an exact cause, and several etiological factors can explain its development. Currently, CBT remains the leading psychotherapeutic approach to the treatment of the condition, with several pharmacotherapeutic methods available. Contemporary research on OCD focuses on novelty treatments and medications.


Brock, H., & Hany, M. (2022). Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. In StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing. Web.

Kahn, L., Sutton, B., Winston, H. R., Abosch, A., Thompson, J. A., & Davis, R. A. (2021). Deep brain stimulation for obsessive-compulsive disorder: Real world experience Post-FDA-Humanitarian use device approval. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 12. Web.

Mayo Clinic. (2020). Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Web.

National Institute of Mental Health. (2018). Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Web.

Nazeer, A., Latif, F., Mondal, A., Azeem, M. W., & Greydanus, D. E. (2020). Obsessive-compulsive disorder in children and adolescents: Epidemiology, diagnosis and management. Translational Pediatrics, 9(1), 76–93. Web.

NOCD. (2022). How long has OCD been around? Web.

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