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Mental Health Concerns
187
compulsive symptoms from others. An unfortunate
consequence of this secrecy is that they generally do not
receive professional help until years after the onset of their
condition.
What causes OCD?
People from all walks of life can develop OCD. Theories of
causality vary but suggest that individuals with OCD
overestimate threats of harm and their likelihood of
occurring, believe that having an unacceptable thought
increases the likelihood of the thought actually occurring and
have very strong negative psychological and physiological
reactions to a feared event occurring or to the possibility of it
occurring.
What treatments are available for OCD?
Exposure paired with ritual prevention and cognitive therapy
have produced the best results for treating OCD. Exposure
and ritual prevention expose the person to the thought or
situation that produces the anxiety and then prevent the
ritual response, while utilizing relaxation techniques.
Cognitive therapy addresses beliefs often found in OCD like
having a thought is the same as performing an action, failing
to prevent harm is the same as causing harm, and that one
can control one’s thoughts. These approaches have been
effective in 75- 85% of cases with strong relapse prevention.
Medication has also been used to treat OCD. Clomipramine
and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) have