FAQ: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Sue Varma, MD, answers common questions about the symptoms and treatments of OCD.

FAQ: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

What is OCD?
OCD is a type of anxiety disorder where people have intrusive thoughts that are irrational or out of proportion. They often feel they must engage in some type of behavior or compulsions such as excessive hand washing, counting, checking locks. These thoughts and behaviors consume them and affect their work, home, and relationships as a result.

Who is at risk for OCD?
Having a family history or being very affected by stressful life events can trigger OCD symptoms. However, many people with OCD may not have an obvious cause or risk factor.

How can I recognize the symptoms?
OCD is far more than simply being a highly organized person. Organization tends to make people feel better, decreases their anxiety and leads to efficiency. OCD symptoms produce the opposite effect. The intrusive thoughts and behaviors can be debilitating or at the very least interfere with tasks.

What should I do if I notice symptoms in myself for someone I care about?
You or your loved one should run this by your doctor or a mental health professional. There are several treatments available including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (I'm a big believer and practitioner of this evidence-based treatment!) alone or in conjunction with medications, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

4 Steps to Shedding Your Pandemic Pounds

Forgive yourself, and start walking toward a healthier you.

For those of you who have put on the Pandemic Pounds or added several new COVID Curves, you are not alone. Alarmingly, the American Psychological Association has recently published that almost half of all adults in their survey now have a larger physique. In fact, 42% of people reported gaining roughly 15 pounds (the average published was surprisingly 29 pounds but that included outliers) over the past year. Interestingly, 20% of adults in this survey lost about 12 pounds (I am surely not in this group). Clearly, there is a relationship between stress and weight change. In addition, one in four adults disclosed an increase in alcohol consumption, and 67% of participants distressingly revealed that they have new sleeping patterns.

This past year has brought about what has been called the 'new normal.' Social isolation and inactivity due to quarantining and remote working have sadly contributed to the decline in many people's mental and physical health, as demonstrated by the widespread changes in people's weight, alcohol consumption, and sleeping patterns. Gym closures, frequent ordering of unhealthy takeout, and increased time at home cooking and devouring comfort foods have had a perceptible impact. In addition, many people have delayed routine medical care and screening tests over fear of contracting Covid-19 during these visits. Unfortunately, the 'new normal' has now placed too many people at risk for serious health consequences, including heart attacks and strokes.

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