As human beings living in a hectic world, it is easy to fantasize about how pleasurable it would be to escape from daily worries. Not having to stress about the cleanliness of your home, the wellbeing of your family, or your own safety would be desirable to many. However, we learn to deal with these worries in a healthy way, so that we can still tend to our responsibilities and enjoy life.
For those with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), this is not the case. People with this mental condition are so strongly affected by stressors like these, that they become overpowered by anxiety, fear and negative coping mechanisms. If you find that you are persistently caught in a cycle of worry, so much so that it impedes your ability to live a functional life, you should consult your physician so that you can take an OCD test. This test is used to help determine if the symptoms you are feeling match the diagnostic criteria for obsessive-compulsive disorder.
OCD Statistics and Symptoms
The National Institute of Mental Health notes that approximately 1.0% of adults in the United States have obsessive-compulsive disorder. Common symptoms are split into two categories:
- Excessive need for symmetry and order
- Intense superstition
- Fear of hurting yourself or loved ones
- Fear of germs and contamination
- Violent or aggressive thoughts
- Unwanted sexual thoughts
- Scrupulosity: religious fixation
- Frequently checking on loved ones
- Excessive praying
- Counting or tapping objects
- Repetitive checking
- Excessive cleaning and washing (especially of the hands)
- Methodically arranging items
In order to be diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder, you must meet the criteria set out by the American Psychological Association, which can be found in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). This handbook contains descriptions of every mental disorder, and is regarded as the standard diagnostic resource for clinicians. There are four criteria that must be met, as described on Beyond OCD:
- The presence of obsessions, compulsions or both.
- The obsessions or compulsions are time-consuming (lasting more than an hour), or cause clinically significant social, occupational, etc. distress and impairment.
- The obsessive-compulsive symptoms must not be attributed to physiological effects of a substance (e.g. drug abuse, medication) or another medical condition.
- The symptoms are not caused by another mental condition.
To determine if you are truly in need of OCD treatment, your doctor or psychologist may administer an OCD test known as the Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale (Y-BOCS). Not only will this tool help your care provider determine if you have OCD, it will also allow for the assessment of symptom severity. It is designed as a semi-structured interview, meaning that the interviewer will ask you questions based on a standardized symptoms checklist, but may also make additional inquiries to draw a more complete picture of your mental health. The Y-BOCS is extremely detailed, consisting of various questions that fall under the following categories:
- Aggressive obsessions
- Contamination obsessions
- Sexual obsessions
- Hoarding obsessions
- Religious obsessions
- Obsessions with need for symmetry or exactness
- Miscellaneous obsessions, such as fear of saying certain things, assigning significance to specific colors, etc.
- Somatic obsessions
- Cleaning/washing compulsions
- Checking compulsions
- Repeating compulsions
- Counting compulsions
- Ordering/arranging compulsions
- Hoarding compulsions
- Miscellaneous compulsions, such as ritualized eating behaviors, overwhelming need to confess, etc.
- Time occupied by obsessive thoughts
- Obsession-free interval
- Interference due to obsessive thoughts
- Distress associated with obsessive thoughts
- Resistance against obsessions
- Degree of control over obsessive thoughts
- Time spent performing compulsive behaviors
- Compulsion-free interval
- Interference due to compulsive behavior
- Resistance against compulsions
- Degree of control over compulsive behaviour
- Insight into obsessions and compulsions
- Degree of indecisiveness
- Overvalued sense of responsibility
- Pervasive slowness
- Pathological doubting
Many organizations offer a free, discrete Y-BOCS assessment for those living in Los Angeles. Treatment for OCD symptoms can only be provided once your doctor is absolutely certain that the diagnosis is correct. If wrong conclusions are drawn, you could end up receiving unnecessary OCD treatment, which could potentially exacerbate any legitimate underlying problems that you do have; the Y-BOCS allows for an accurate, precise evaluation.
Psychotropic medication and cognitive-behavioral therapy are the two most widely used OCD treatment methods at this time. They are usually administered in tandem, and have proven to be useful for some people. However, not everyone responds well to these therapies. Recently, a new technology has been developed that has shown promising results in regards to alleviating symptoms of OCD, and is known as deep transcranial magnetic stimulation (dTMS)
DTMS is a painless, non-invasive procedure with minimal side effects for the majority of people. The procedure requires that a helmet filled with electric coils be placed on the affected individual’s head. From here, electromagnetic waves are delivered to the deep structures of the brain that play a role in producing obsessive-compulsive symptoms. In a study, 41 people with OCD were given high frequency, low frequency, or placebo dTMS. The process was carried out each day for five weeks, at 15 minutes per session. Those in the high frequency group showed a 28% symptom reduction, while low frequency dTMS decreased symptoms by 12%, and placebo by 5%, says Medscape. Participants experienced these improvements for three months following the study..
In Los Angeles, treatment for OCD via dTMS is gaining in popularity. It you think that deep transcranial magnetic stimulation is something you would like to try, there are a number of facilities in LA that have implemented the use of this innovative equipment.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder can take a detrimental toll on many different facets of everyday life. Severe anxiety and time-consuming compulsions make it difficult to function at an optimal level, and can leave you feeling lost and frustrated. The most important thing to do if you think you have the disorder is to consult your doctor so that you can take an OCD test. A proper diagnosis will ensure that you receive the most adequate care.
Westside Neurotherapeutics offers Deep TMS treatments for OCD in Los Angeles. For more information, contact them by phone at 310.946.0008 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.