Imprisoned by Invasive Thoughts and Compulsive Actions

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( — January 19, 2021) — OCD is a mental health disorder characterized by invasive, unwanted, and repetitive thoughts and urges. These obsessive notions manifest in compulsive actions designed to eliminate the unrelenting thoughts. The invasive thoughts are the Obsessions and the behavioural elements are the Compulsions.  OCD affects people from all walks of life. The most devastating aspect of this condition is the effect it has on a person’s daily life. OCD is crippling, in the sense that it imprisons an individual’s mind with overpowering thoughts. The resultant actions make it impossible to escape from the negative vortex. 

The causes of obsessive compulsive disorder are not entirely clear. Psychiatrists, psychologists, and mental health professionals understand what OCD is and how it affects patients in the most debilitating ways. But the root causes of the condition remain somewhat murky. There is a growing body of evidence pointing towards brain chemistry being a culprit, in addition to genetic factors. There is also the inherited nature of OCD, as well as the problematic communications between the thalamus, the orbitofrontal cortex, and other areas of the brain. OCD appears to be closely associated with these elements.

OCD Runs in Families

Many mental health professionals believe that there is a good case to make regarding the genetic likelihood of OCDs origins. When it occurs during childhood, OCDs inherited component falls between 45% – 65%.  When OCD begins in adulthood, OCDs inherited component falls between 27% – 47%. These stark differences are statistically significant to warrant careful consideration. It is true that OCD as a mental health disorder tends to run in families. Precisely what induces genes to activate and manifest OCD symptoms remains unknown. It could be stress-related elements such as financial, emotional, or physical stress, or simple degradation of bodily chemistry.

OCD Neurotransmitters in the Brain

Brain chemistry is responsible for a lot of the disorders we see with mental health cases. The chemical messengers used between different structures in the brain – neurotransmitters – don’t often perform as expected. When serotonin levels are inadequate, all normal functioning is compromised. Fortunately, medication is a successful elixir for normalising serotonin levels in the brain. These include serotonin reuptake inhibitors, such as Paxil, Zoloft, and fluoxetine.

Another highly effective treatment that has been approved by the FDA includes Deep TMS (this is an advanced form of standard TMS). Deep TMS is a non-invasive treatment which relies on magnetic fields to reformat neural functionality, thereby reconfiguring the brain structures over several weeks of intensive TMS sessions. A standard TMS session can last from 30 minutes to 45 minutes and it continues 5 days a week for 4-6 weeks. By the end of the treatment cycle, patients report improved dispositions, fewer negative thoughts, and a general sense of well-being.

Ultimately, Exposure and Response Prevention is the Cognitive Behavioural Therapy approach to helping patients to confront the most difficult aspects of OCD. Usually, the treatment for OCD is a combination of medication and CBT. If those are ineffective in treating the anxiety-induced behaviours of OCD, Deep TMS can become the treatment regimen of choice. It is non-invasive, pain-free (except for potential headaches or dizziness), and highly effective. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation is recognized as a promising treatment to reduce OCD symptoms.