Thursday, March 26, 2009

OCD: Psychologial Therapies

Combined with medications, psychological therapies are considered to be an effective approach to reducing the OCD symptoms, their frequency and intensity. These therapies are directed on changing the thoughts and behaviors of OCD patients in order to help them in decreasing their dependence on the obsessions and compulsions.

Psychological therapies include three approaches: Behavior Therapy (BT), Cognitive Therapy (CT) and Behavior-Cognitive Therapy (BCT), which help people with OCD in learning how to control their symptoms of the disorder. BT is supposed to be the most effective therapy, as well as BCT. The technique of BT is called “Exposure and Response Prevention”: the therapist makes the patient face the situation or object of obsession, but at that it is prohibited for the patient to perform his/her usual rituals. For example, the patient is forced to touch something dirty, but he/she is not allowed to wash his/her hands after this for some hours.

Another technique is called Saturation. It is based on the assumption that if an OCD patient will get concentrated on the obsessional thought for some time (15-20 minutes), the compulsions may lose their meaning and the disorder will become less severe. These and various other behavior therapeutic techniques help patients to cope with their anxiety without compulsions, and the effects of such therapies frequently remain for rather long period of time.

BCT approach can also be helpful for OCD treatment. This type of therapy is directed on changing the thoughts and escaping negative thinking patterns of patients with OCD, including the attempts to change attitude of the OCD patients towards their obsession. Thus, one of the most popular techniques, Thought-stopping, helps OCD patients to learn blocking the deveopment of obsessional thoughts and prevent compulsions by doing something different or opposite.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

OCD: The Causes and Treatment Options

There are few scientifically proven facts about the causes of OCD. Medical researches suggested that this disorder could be caused by some biological factors, not by previous behavioral experiences or social problems of a person. Studies showed that this disorder could be related to some irregularities of nerve cells connections in certain structures of human brain, associated with a lack of serotonin.

Nevertheless, modern specialists cast doubt upon this theory, supposing that a lack of serotonin was not the cause but the reaction of human organism on OCD. Medical experiments of National Institutes of Health resulted with discovering of certain genetic mutation, affecting serotonin transporter. This mutation can probably be one of the causes of OCD, as well as certain failures on chemical level in those areas of human brain, where communication “intentions-actions” takes place (so called “Brain Lock”). Also, specialists suppose that the development of OCD is connected with the processes in the cingulated cortex and the striatum of human brain.

OCD can be treated in two different ways: medication treatment and psychological therapy. Both these types can be effective, but on the first stages it is better to consult a psychiatrist and choose a proper method of psychological therapy, which is less radical and harmful. Medicines like sertraline, fluvoxamine, paroxetine or fluoxetine, which stimulate activity of serotonin 5-HT in brain, are quite effective for decreasing occurrence and severity of OCD syndromes.

The mentioned medicines can be used along with some tricyclic antidepressants or hallucinogens. Besides, some positive effect can be received when using definite vitamins, mineral supplements and natural sugar Inositol. Unfortunately, as soon as the treatment is over, symptoms tend to appear again. That’s why it is better to continue such treatment with lower doses of medications.