Today, there are many different types of mental health issues that have been diagnosed, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, severe depression, major depressive disorder, mood disorders, those with suicidal thoughts, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental disorder that affects millions of people around the world. Unlike other mental illnesses, OCD is a diverse condition that touches lives in vastly different ways. In fact, no two cases of OCD are the same—the obsessions and compulsions of an OCD patient vary from person to person.
Do you have OCD, or does a loved one suffer from OCD? Would you like to discover more about this common yet seldom-understood disorder? If so, you have come to the right place. In this article, our experts break down the various types of OCD and the various treatment options available to those living with OCD, including ketamine infusion therapy.
What Is OCD?
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), the handbook for clinical psychology and psychiatry, defines obsessive-compulsive disorder as the “presence of obsessions, compulsions, or both.” However, the medical community has not reached a strong consensus as to what OCD entails—the definition, therefore, has had to remain vague.
The fact remains, though, that OCD is characterized by the persistence of obsessions and compulsions in the mind of the patient. These afflictions cause the patient to act involuntarily or to do things that are beyond their control, usually repetitively.
Obsessions are intrusive or unwelcome thoughts that persist over time in the mind of the patient. These thoughts recur despite attempts from the subject to repress them, block them, or ignore them. Those who live with obsessive-compulsive disorder often act compulsively to find relief from their obsessions that would otherwise occupy their mind ceaselessly.
Most OCD patients find that they cannot properly function or proceed with life unless they satisfy their obsessions. There is typically a strong sense of tension in the mind of OCD patients until they are able to silence the obsessions running through their mind.
Most OCD patients report having to perform compulsive tasks or rituals. These are known as compulsions, and they have little to do with one’s willpower or ability to fight the compulsion. Those living with OCD feel physically ill or severely irritated unless they can satisfy their compulsions to act in a certain way.
For example, OCD sufferers may feel strongly inclined to pull out their own hair, pick at their skin, bite their nails, or perform other body-related repetitive behaviors. Even if these actions are “unhealthy” or self-destructive, OCD patients must repetitively or ritualistically repeat their tasks or behaviors until their compulsive needs are met.
OCD in a Nutshell
Clearly, the specifics of OCD can be a bit dry. It doesn’t need to be this way, however. This is because OCD can be more aptly understood as a simple anxiety disorder. Those who suffer from OCD merely experience a strong bout of anxiety whenever their obsessions or compulsions occupy their mind.
Framing OCD in terms of an anxiety response can help those who do not have OCD empathize with, understand, and help those who live with OCD.
What Causes OCD?
A confluence of factors can lead to the development of OCD. In fact, there is little scientific consensus when it comes to the material basis of OCD. Rather, scientists and mental health experts that three broad categories of causes exist: genetic factors, environmental factors, and neurological factors.
Data has shown that there is a moderate genetic contribution to the development of OCD. For example, those with OCD are more likely than the general population to have a family member also diagnosed with OCD or an anxiety disorder. Also, twins tend to both exhibit OCD symptoms more than other groups.
There is some evidence to suggest that there are differences between the physical structure of the brain in those living with OCD versus those who are not. For example, some research points to the fact that the frontal cortex, a large portion in the front of the brain, is larger in those who have been diagnosed with OCD.
It has long been suggested that those who have experienced emotional, physical, or sexual abuse during their early childhood are more likely to develop OCD when they get older. Other types of OCD are prevalent among those who have experienced surgical complications.
Warning Signs of OCD Development
Are you at risk of developing OCD or do you suspect you have been cultivating OCD-like symptoms? If so, you should be mindful of the most common OCD symptoms and warning signs. We suggest speaking with your doctor or clinical psychologist if you experience any two or more of the following signs:
Types of OCD
Now that we understand what OCD is, let us now discuss the various types of OCD that are most common in the general population.
The contamination OCD subtype is characterized by feeling uncomfortable with feeling contaminated. Therefore, they have to wash, clean, and scrub themselves to produce a sense of cleanliness.
The hoarding OCD subtype is defined by the compulsion to keep old objects of limited or no value such as magazines, receipts, junk mail, paper, notes, and garbage.
Symmetry obsessions are very common among those with OCD. This subtype is characterized by the need to order or arrange objects to make them symmetrical.
Obsessions without visible compulsions are purely mental obsessions the involve aggressive, religious, or hypersexual themes.
Harm-based obsessions are characterized by intense beliefs related to one’s personal distress if they do not satisfy their obsessions. They feel like something bad will happen to them, or that they will be unsafe unless they fulfill their obsessive impulses.
Ketamine Infusion Therapy for OCD
Did you know that ketamine infusion therapy can be used to treat OCD? Since the early 2000s, a significant amount of scientific research has been undertaken that has shown ketamine to be a powerful treatment option for alleviating the pain, irritation, and severity of compulsions and obsessions.
At present, there are dozens of clinics around the United States offering ketamine infusion treatment for OCD, depression, anxiety, and many other mood disorders and anxiety disorders. If you are resistant to conventional OCD treatment options, speak to your doctor about receiving off-label ketamine infusion therapy for OCD.