Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) doesn’t often have a clear trigger. Some remember the onset, and some find that there was an ambiguous pattern of behavior that eventually became identifiable as OCD. OCD usually begins in anxious thoughts like a fear of harm befalling loved ones or of one’s body performing involuntary actions that put others in danger. Most people with OCD realize that their behaviors aren’t strictly rational, but still feel they must do something to ward off negative consequences, hence the compulsion.
What is OCD?
According to the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health, “Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a common, chronic, and long-lasting disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and/or behaviors (compulsions) that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over.” It’s a serious medical problem that affects about one percent of the U.S. population, with more women than men experiencing it during their lives. Fortunately, many symptoms can be treated with ketamine.
What is Ketamine?
Ketamine is a medicine that started out as an anesthetic in the early 1960s. Because of initial success in controlled settings, the U.S. government agreed to let it be field-tested during the war in Vietnam on wounded combat soldiers. Soon after, it was approved for use in humans and animals by the Food and Drug Administration. Later, it was discovered the medicine had curative properties for symptoms of mental health and other chronic pain disorders.
Risk Factors for OCD
No one knows the cause for OCD, but we have an educated guess about its risk factors – or things that can increase your chance of getting it. These include:
- Your age. It normally starts in older teens and young adults.
- Genetics. OCD may run in families, meaning it could be passed between biological parents and their children.
- If you suffer from other mental illnesses, like depression or eating disorders.
- Certain illnesses, ongoing stress, and pregnancy.
Know the Symptoms
You may be diagnosed with OCD if you meet specific criteria or symptoms.
- Fear of bacteria or contamination
- Unwanted, illicit, or unpleasant thoughts
- Hostile thoughts about yourself or someone else
- Having things perfectly arranged
- Extreme cleaning and/or handwashing
- Ordering and assembling things in a specific way
- Repeatedly checking something, such as continually testing to make sure the front door is locked or your stove is shut off
How Do You Get OCD?
You don’t “get” OCD like the flu or another illness. If someone with OCD sneezes in your personal space, you won’t “catch” it. But there are not-so-subtle clues about how you may get OCD.
Everyone has invasive, random, and weird thoughts occasionally. Most people can dismiss them away from their consciousness and happily continue with their daily lives. But someone with OCD isn’t so lucky, as these arbitrary thoughts get lodged in their brains, kind of like mental junk mail. Most people’s brains are protected by a spam filter of sorts, and they can mostly disregard incoming mental junk mail. But if you’ve been diagnosed with OCD, your mental spam filter rarely works – overpowered by a flood of intrusive thoughts that roll in, wave after wave. Soon, you’ve collected a mountain of mental junk mail that exceeds the important stuff, and someone with OCD gets overwhelmed. So why does your brain work like this?
Today’s medicine is pretty advanced, allowing the use of neuroimaging technologies where pictures of the brain and its functional areas are captured. In turn, researchers can prove that certain regions of the brain work differently in someone with OCD compared to someone who doesn’t have symptoms. We believe OCD symptoms can be triggered by faulty communication amongst different brain regions, like the orbitofrontal cortex, the anterior cingulate cortex, the striatum, and the thalamus. Faulty neurotransmitter systems (chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, glutamate, and maybe others) that transport messages between brain cells are also involved in the disorder.
Diagnosis & Treatment
If you’re convinced that you suffer from OCD, schedule an appointment with us to learn more. Occasionally, OCD can be mistaken for other disorders, which is why most doctors will compare your symptoms to criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition.
After diagnosis, your doctor may recommend multiple treatment options, including psychotherapy, self-help, alternative therapy, or even ketamine infusion to help control OCD symptoms.
If you’re losing time and energy to anxious thoughts and behaviors, it’s likely you suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder. While many people are able to work around these intrusive thoughts and rituals, OCD is still exhausting. But relief is available. Ketamine therapy has shown excellent results in alleviating the symptoms of OCD. Contact us to learn more about how we can help!