Recognising the Hidden Struggles and Celebrating Resilience
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental illness that affects approximately 1-2% of people worldwide. It is characterized by obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours that can be extremely distressing and time-consuming. Thus, many people with OCD suffer in silence because of the stigma and shame that surrounds the disorder.
However, it is important to recognise the hidden struggles of those with OCD and celebrate their resilience in managing the disorder. In this blog post, we will explore the symptoms of OCD, the impact it has on people’s lives, and how to support those who are struggling with OCD.
Symptoms of OCD
OCD can manifest in many different ways, but most people with the disorder experience obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours. Obsessive thoughts are intrusive and repetitive, causing distress and disrupting daily life. Common obsessions include fear of contamination, doubt, and aggressive or sexual thoughts.
On the other hand, compulsive behaviours are repetitive actions that are performed to alleviate the anxiety caused by obsessive thoughts. Examples of compulsions include washing and cleaning, checking, counting, and hoarding. These behaviours can be time-consuming and interfere with daily life, causing distress and impairment.
Impact on People’s Lives
OCD can have a significant impact on people’s lives, causing severe distress and impaired functioning. People with OCD often spend hours performing compulsions, which can interfere with work, school, and social activities.
They may also avoid certain situations or objects that trigger their obsessions, leading to isolation and loneliness. OCD can also cause depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. Additionally, OCD can be a financial burden because of the cost of treatment and lost wages due to impaired functioning.
Supporting Those with OCD
It is important to recognize the hidden struggles of those with OCD and provide support. This can include educating yourself about the disorder, offering empathy and understanding, and providing practical assistance. If you know someone with OCD, listen to them without judgment and offer to accompany them to treatment appointments.
Also, encourage them to seek professional help if they have not already done so and remind them that they are not alone in their struggles. You can also advocate for better access to mental health services and research funding for OCD.
Treatments for OCD
There is no cure for OCD, but it can be managed with appropriate treatment. One of the most effective treatments for OCD is cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) and brain stimulation therapies. CBT involves identifying and challenging irrational thoughts and behaviours and learning new coping strategies. Medications, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), can help alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression. Some people with OCD may benefit from a combination of both therapies. It is important to seek treatment from a qualified mental health professional who has experience treating OCD.
Brain Stimulation Therapy for OCD
TMS Treatment for OCD
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) has emerged as a promising treatment option for OCD. TMS is a non-invasive procedure that uses a magnetic field to stimulate specific regions of the brain. It works by increasing the activity of the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for controlling impulsive behaviour and regulating emotions. Studies have shown that TMS can significantly reduce symptoms of OCD, including intrusive thoughts and compulsive behaviours.
TMS for OCD typically involves targeted stimulation of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). This region is involved in decision-making, planning, and impulse control, making it a prime target for OCD treatment. During TMS, a coil is held near the scalp and sends a magnetic pulse to the DLPFC, stimulating neurons in that area. The procedure is painless and does not require sedation or anaesthesia.
Several randomised controlled trials have demonstrated the effectiveness of TMS for OCD. One study found that TMS significantly reduced symptoms of OCD compared to placebo, with a 30% reduction in symptoms after just three weeks of treatment. Another study found that TMS was effective in reducing both obsessions and compulsions, with up to 50% improvement in symptoms.
tDCS Therapy for OCD
In addition to TMS, tDCS therapy is another promising treatment option for OCD. It has been demonstrated to reduce symptoms of the disorder with a high degree of safety and tolerability.
The technique involves using a small electrical current to stimulate the brain, which can help reduce symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and obsessions. In addition, it is a non-invasive procedure that does not require hospitalisation and can be done at home. For those suffering from OCD, tDCS therapy may be a viable option to consider in their treatment journey.
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