OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE DISORDER (OCD)
Around 1.2 percent of individuals in the U.S. have OCD, and slightly more females experience it than males, according to the American Psychiatric Association. Also, OCD usually starts in the teen or early adult years, typically appearing around the age of 19.
WHAT IS OCD?
OCD is a type of anxiety disorder where you have unwanted, recurring thoughts, sensations, obsessions or ideas that drive you to do something repetitively and compulsively. These compulsions or repetitive behaviors, which include things like continuously cleaning, checking on things or hand-washing, can significantly interfere with your social interactions and daily activities.
Many individuals have repeated behaviors or focused thoughts that don’t interfere with their daily life, and that may even make tasks easier for them. However, individuals with OCD suffer from an avalanche of unrelenting and persistent thoughts. They have unwanted behaviors and fixed routines, and when they don’t do them, it causes them lots of distress and anxiety.
Many OCD patients suspect or know their obsessions are unwarranted. Others think their obsessions are appropriate. Regardless, individuals with OCD find it difficult to keep their focus and attention off their obsessions, and they can’t stop their compulsive actions.
To get an OCD diagnosis, your presence of compulsions and/or obsessions must be time-consuming — more than an hour daily. The compulsions must cause you immense anguish and impair your social interactions, work, school or other important functions.
SYMPTOMS OF OCD
OCD obsessions are intrusive, persistent, repeated and unwanted urges, thoughts or images that cause anxiety or distress. You may try to eliminate them by performing a particular compulsive ritual or behavior, or you may try to ignore them altogether, typically without much success. Obsessions tend to intrude when you’re trying to do or think of other things.
Some examples of obsessions include:
- Needing things to be symmetrical and orderly
- Fear of dirt and contamination
- Horrific or aggressive thoughts about harming others or yourself
- Unwanted thoughts, including religious or sexual subjects or aggression
OCD compulsions are repeated behaviors that drive you to perform them. In an OCD sufferer’s mind, repetitive behaviors will prevent bad things from happening or reduce or prevent anxiety that’s related to obsessions. But when you engage in your compulsions, you don’t feel any pleasure out of it, other than a temporary relief from your anxiety.
You might make up rituals or rules you can follow to help keep your anxiety under control when you’re experiencing obsessive thoughts. The compulsions are needless and excessive, and usually aren’t realistically related to the problem you’re trying to fix.
Some examples of compulsions include:
- Following a strict routine
- Washing and cleaning
- Demanding reassurances
HOW MEDICAL MARIJUANA HELPS WITH OCD
At some point in our lives, we’re all going to question whether we locked the front door of our home. But most people can go on with their day regardless of not knowing, and eventually forget about it until they return home. With OCD patients, however, not knowing if they locked their front door can often cause their anxiety levels to spike considerably if they’re not able to act out their compulsions — in this example, checking the front door multiple times.
As mentioned above, OCD can cause a variety of symptoms. Thankfully, cannabis and obsessive-compulsive disorder treatment can help with most of these symptoms, including:
- Impulsive behavior
- Repetitive behavior
- Repeated thoughts
- Stress and tension
- Social anxiety or isolation
Medical pot may also help curb the unwanted side effects of certain OCD medications, including SSRI and tricyclic antidepressants, such as:
- Weight loss
- Abdominal cramps