Obsession is defined by preoccupying or filling the mind of (someone) continually, intrusively, and to a troubling extent (dictionary.com). A compulsion is defined as to force or drive, especially to a course of action. All of this grouped together with a psychological irregularity can describe someone going through Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Those suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder have recurring thoughts, feelings, and ideas to feel driven to accomplish a certain task, usually cleaning, counting, fixing, etc. These people feel anxiety because of their reoccurring compulsions and can only be rid of it by acting on the thought which is called thought-action fusion. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder effects maybe 1 out of 100 children in the US and a total 3% of people in the general population due to recent research completed by the WHO www.ocdeducationstation.org ). I think the prevalence of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in children is so low because Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a generalized biological vulnerability, meaning the child has a heritable contribution to negative effects. This means that the child has learned from outside sources; parents, teachers, friends; that a certain stimuli will bring about a certain set of feelings and therefore actions (thought action fusion).
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Some research studies done by the National Institute of Health have shown that Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is caused by an uncommon mutation of the human serotonin transporter gene (www.ocdeducationstation.org). Another theory explained in an article in the JAMA Network Journal by Ben J. Harrison; PHD states that those who have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder have an altered corticostriatal function in the brain. This corticostriatal function means the networks of nerves in the brain. It was shown in their research that those with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder have even higher functionality than those without Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. This does not mean a higher IQ or brain function; it only means altered networks create abnormal and reoccurring thoughts and actions. I believe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder to be a learned or conditioned response to events taught by those responsible for early development.
This hypothesis comes from an article in Psychiatry research by Francesco Catapano that shows the relationship between levels of melatonin and cortisol, the stress hormone, in those with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder compared to those who do not have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Their findings showed that those with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder had lower melatonin levels giving them irregular sleep patterns and abnormal circadian rhythms. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder patients were also found to have higher doses of cortisol in their blood in comparison to the healthy control group.
More research was done on the subject by Xinhua Zhang; MD who claims that aft6er treating a patient with a brain tumor, the patient began to have compulsive thoughts about her children and husband living longer than her. She realized these thoughts were unnecessary and went back to the hospital. Xinhua Zhang concluded that since the tumor excavation took place in the right frontal lobe that this is where obsessions originate and the surgery caused her to behave abnormally. Upon further research I’ve found that the right frontal lobe is the perfect place for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder to spawn from because the frontal lobe is said to control our emotions and cause us to be different in personality (www.neuroskills.com ).
There has been a lot of research on the treatment of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and it almost always leads to medication. The treatment that has gotten the most recognition and funding is a drug called Clomipramine (www.psychcentral.com/medicationsforObsessive Compulsive Disorder ). Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a chronic disorder that doesn’t really go away because of the serotonin levels in the brain of those affected. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder causes serotonin to be absorbed at an abnormal speed which accounts for constant urge to seek relief from stress. Clomipramine allows serotonin to bind to the drug and be free flowing in the synapses of the brain instead of being absorbed and shoveled off as waste.
Considering Barlow’s Integrated Model of mental health. I would categorize Obsessive Compulsive Disorder as both generalized biological vulnerability and generalized psychological vulnerability. It could be a biological abnormality because, as previously stated, there could be something wrong with the right frontal lobe causing obsession and compulsive thoughts. To me, psychological vulnerability just means a learned thought process either from parents, teachers, siblings, or other outside sources. According to a study done by J. Griffiths, a Bristol Doctorate graduate in Clinical Psychology, the data taken from those who live with parents or close relatives with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder has a serious indication on the prevalence of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder within the children of the family. The children reported feeling embarrassed by their parent and a feeling of loss of control considering boundaries and the happiness of said “sick” relative.
Children who suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder usually have fears of getting dirty, getting hurt, or have a feeling of need for exactness and/or symmetry. They’re both linked because of the integrative model of psychological disorders. Having a parent with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or any other type of mental disorder for that matter will have an effect on those in close proximity of them due to classical conditioning and learned response from an abnormal or neurotic pattern of behavior according to Etelä-Savon Sairaanhoitopiiri, the writer of the article “Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in childhood” in the Duodecim journal.
Many studies show that Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is more common in people who don’t follow pre- and perinatal health advice. Since prenatal childcare is the most crucial due to the formation of the brain and the natural chemicals combining in the amniotic sack, those who do not exercise greater caution in certain respects may cause their children to inherit Obsessive Compulsive Disorder later on in life. Data showed that excessive weight gain and edema of the hands, feet, and face during pregnancy lead to higher rates of people born with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Another huge contributor to predisposed Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is whether or not the mother took or mixed medications during the beginning stages of the pregnancy. A counter point made in “The Structure of Genetic and Environmental Risk Factors for Dimensional Representations of DSM-5 Obsessive-Compulsive Spectrum Disorders” in JAMA Psychiatry shows that there is a strong correlation between environmental factors and the onset of mental disorders.
Their conclusion was that it is much more possible to get Obsessive Compulsive Disorder from traumatic experiences or living arrangements than biologically inherited. Those who suffer because of life events rather than genetics suffer to a higher degree than those of their biologically inherited symptom counterparts. This usually accounts for a higher drug dosage and a lesser ability to control and manage the symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (Benedetta Monzani, PhD). This is supported by the lecture we did on experiential avoidance and the conditioned responses we acquire due to stress. If someone lives in such a way that any thought they encounter causes them stress, then they might pick up some behaviors that stop them from stressing out due to thinking; which is exactly what victims of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder encounter on a daily basis. It starts out as either biologically inherited or psychologically learned Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Once they experience a stressful thought or action, they revert to their learned stress relief which is usually compulsive behavioral rituals to suppress said thoughts. In “Adverse childhood experiences and gender influence treatment seeking behaviors in obsessive–compulsive disorder”, an article in Comprehensive Psychology, it states that adverse childhood experiences (ACE) leads to higher activity in the frontal lobe of the brain; which we have deduced is where compulsive behavior originates.
Different outcomes according to sex were also examined in this study and it was shown that males do a better job at rebounding after adverse or traumatic experiences than females which accounts for the higher rate of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in females than in males. During my studies, while distinguishing adverse health outcomes due to prenatal care is easy and logical, I think that more research states that Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is more psychologically conditioned than inherited. The number of patients with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder who had traumatic or rough living environments vastly outnumber those who did not have such circumstances. I think this also shows the degree to which they are affected. Someone who is predisposed to have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder would not be as strongly influenced by their thoughts in comparison to someone who has a physical real life correlation with a traumatic experience.
This is supported by the fact that the pharmaceutical treatment for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is the same as treatment for PTSD. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are both used to slow the absorption of serotonin in the brain so it is free floating in a higher dosage which leads to less stress and less abnormal behavior. The rate at which the serotonin is released and absorbed is equivalent to the time spent in less stress. Antidepressants work in these types of situations because of the high impact that Obsessive Compulsive Disorder has on the emotional state of the mind. The frontal lobe, as previously discussed, is the anatomical site for emotion and personality, so an abnormality in chemical processing or a physical abnormality not only spawns Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in subjects, but also alters their emotional state and how their outlook on life. Studies show that patients with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder who have a better outlook on their treatment and acceptance of it, have a better treatment outcome than those who don’t take SSRI’s. In conclusion, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a rare abnormality originating in the frontal lobe.
The absorption rate of serotonin in the brain strongly correlates with onset of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Although there are many medications to take, the most widely used is Clomipramine and SSRI’s so the emotional and physical stress can be tolerated. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder can be contracted at any time but due to recent studies, I have more confidence in the theory that traumatic life experiences and negative living arrangements have a higher rate of setting on OCD than a predisposed genetic availability to contract it because of the physical testimonies from those in that situation. Although I’m sure that prenatal care and genetics play a viable roll in mental health, I would still say that those who have a physical association with stress or trauma are more affected by it in the mind. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder affects only 3% of people in the general population, but given the fact that mental health takes a toll on family members, coworkers, and friends; it can be conjectured that it is affecting more than that by a “contact mental illness”. The problems people face every day should be taken into softer hearts because you never know who has been affected by this rare disorder.
Benedtti, F. (2014). Comprehensive psychiatry. Adverse childhood experiences
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