Andrew Agoado AP, DOM (AP3220) – Palm Beach Gardens, Florida – For a long time, it was thought that OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) was a rare condition. Modern research has however shown it is much more prevalent among a span of age groups from young to old. The most reliable data shows up to 2.3% of the global population aged between 18 and 54 years have a form of OCD. This makes OCD far more common than more well publicized mental disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or panic disorder.
Data specific to the United States shows that up to 3.3 million people are suffering from OCD. Alarmingly, 1 in 3 of those suffering from the condition have not reached the age majority, meaning there are very young sufferers of this disorder. It has also been demonstrated that OCD is most likely to affect someone for the first time when they are approximately 19 years old. Among adults, data shows that age, sex or ethnicity are not factors in determining who is more likely to suffer from OCD in the US. However, in children, boys are more likely to be affected than are girls.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: What is it?
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a chronic anxiety disorder characterized by recurrence of certain uncontrollable, relentless and negative thoughts, sensations and ideas which then compel the affected person to have an urge to do and repeat certain odd behavior time and again. Some OCD sufferers feel compelled to wash hands too often to avoid contamination while others may have relentless suicidal thoughts or they may be obsessed with sex.
Causes of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Mental health experts are broadly in agreement that OCD has neurobiological causes. However, the exact mechanics of how it happens are a mystery. What can be show is that there are certain genetic, behavior and environmental factors which contribute to the likelihood of someone developing OCD.
Genetic Causes of OCD
The National Institutes of Health carried out a study which indicated that OCD as well as related psychiatric conditions can be associated with a rare mutation of the Human Serotonin Transporter (hSERT) gene.
How Brain Structure Function is Associated with OCD
There have been clinical studies which have shown that certain frontal cortex and subcortical structures in the brain are likely to predispose someone to develop OCD. However, how this happens is not clearly understood and research is still being carried out.
How the Environment Influences Likelihood of OCD
Studies have shown that certain factors unique to the environment someone has grown or lives in could contribute to the likelihood of developing OCD. People who have had brain injury or underwent trauma may develop OCD. This can also be seen in studies which focused on incidences of OCD among people who underwent physical, sexual or emotional abuse as children.
Mental clinicians look for either obsessions or compulsive behavior in diagnosing OCD. Some patients exhibit both of them. However, there are those who are either only obsessive or only compulsive in their behavior.
Those OCD patients diagnosed as obsessive in their behavior exhibit such symptoms as:
- Unwarranted fear of contamination
- A persistent recurrence of bad unwanted ideas
- Violent impulses
- Inclination to harm and injure other people
- Constantly feeling persistent sexual thoughts
- Feelings of being under imminent danger
Patients with OCD often display these compulsive behaviors
- Repeatedly cleaning and disinfecting hands
- Repeatedly checking to see if doors and windows are locked
- Washing and cleaning items repeatedly
- Constant and unnecessary double-checking
- Persistently counting and recounting items
- Engaging in religious rituals such as prayers to ward off fear or evil
- Hoarding items unnecessarily
Treating OCD Using Western Medicine
While there is no standard treatment for OCD, Western mental health practitioners have developed certain treatment approaches to offer relief from the most persistent of its symptoms. Some studies have shown that up to 60% of patients undergoing conventional therapy for OCD experience some relief from the worst symptoms.
Acupuncture as Treatment for OCD
Research data has established that using acupuncture to treat OCD is both expedient and effective. This is especially true where acupuncture has been used as an alternative after conventional therapeutic approaches failed to produce results.
The popularity of acupuncture for treatment and management of OCD is not without explanation. This is especially so when taken in the context of earlier research which found a definite connection between acupuncture and other mental disorders such as depression and certain phobias. to Dr. Hsu, a leading researcher and Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine has also found that acupuncture as treatment for OCD is more effective when combined with certain herbal treatments. It’s effectiveness can be attributed to the fact that acupuncture is very good at stimulating the region of the brain which controls emotions.
Acupuncture is an ancient form of holistic, alternative medicine. It focuses on rebalancing specific body systems to facilitate the flow of blood and energy to all parts of the body, including the brain. This takes place through by the insertion of sterile, painless needles being placed at targeted acu-points on the body. By stimulating these points, we believe that the body returns to its natural state of homeostasis.
Most of our patients experience a serene calmness after receiving acupuncture and we truly believe it can greatly benefit people suffering from anxiety-related disorders like OCD.
After many decades of being misunderstood and even misdiagnosed, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is being systematically studied and understood today. While a standard and definitive cure for the condition remains elusive, there are some effective approaches being used and developed to manage the condition and lessen the worst of its symptoms and effects. Of these often-novel approaches, acupuncture has earned a reputation of being reliable and trustworthy. If you’re suffering with OCD let the experienced team of physicians at Palm Beach Gardens Acupuncture help. Take advantage of our free consultations and learn how acupuncture can work for you!