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What is the name (common and scientific) of the mental illness?

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Characterised by unreasonable thoughts and fears (obsessions) that lead you to do
repetitive behaviours (compulsions)

What does OCD stand for and what does it mean?

Its a disorder of the brain and behaviour.

It causes severe anxiety in those affected
OCD involves obsessions and compulsions that take up a lot of energy and gets in the
way of a productive life.

What is the history of this mental illness (ie. who discovered or first diagnosis?)

In the 1600s having unwanted thoughts and repetitive behaviours were seen as
symptoms of melancholia a form of severe depression.
In the 19th century extreme repetitive behaviours were seen as a legitimate health
issue and more study and analysis began on these behaviours.
Martin Luther (1483-1546) a leader of the Protestant Reformation in Europe suffered
from OCD
John Bunyan (1628-1688) famous for writing Pilgrims Progress suffered disturbing
thoughts and had OCD

Who is affected? (ie. gender, age groups, social economic status)

It occurs equally in men and women and affects people of all races and socioeconomic

How common is it? (ie. Statistics Canada)

Currently Stats Canada reports that 3.3 million adults and 1 million children have OCD.

What causes it?

The exact cause is not fully understood but it is felt it is a combination of

environmental and biological factors.
Scientists think that OCD is caused when a problem develops in the brains pathways
that link areas dealing with planning and judgement with other areas that involves
body movements.
Some scientists think that low levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin are responsible
for the development of OCD.
There is evidence that OCD symptoms can be passed from parents to children and so
its thought that you can inherit OCD qualities.
Certain environmental stressors can trigger OCD conditions including: abuse, changes
in living situations, illness, death of someone close, work/school changes, and
relationship issues

What are the symptoms? (ie. body, mind)

The symptoms of OCD vary by which obsessions and compulsions an individual is

effected by.
Common Compulsions:
Repeatedly washing hands, showering or bathing
Refusing to shake hand or touch doorknobs
Repeatedly checking things
Counting mentally or out loud when performing routine tasks
Constantly rearranging things and tidying up
Eating foods in a specific order
Thoughts or images that wont go away and disrupt sleep patterns
Repeating words or phrases
Needing to perform tasks a certain number of times
Hoarding items of no apparent value
Common Obsessions:
Fear of germs and dirt
Fear of causing harm to others
Fear of making a mistake
Fear of feeling embarrassed
Fear of thinking an evil thought
Need for order
Constantly doubts one abilities and needs affirmation from others
How is it diagnosed? (ie. exams, questionnaire) Who completes the diagnosis? (ie.
Doctors, psychiatrist)

OCD can not be diagnosed via a lab test but can be diagnosis after a doctor has
assessed a patients symptoms

A mental health professional or doctor may do the following tests.


Physical Exam will help rule out other problems


Lab Tests a complete blood count and check for thyroid function


Psychological Evaluation ask about thoughts, feelings, symptoms and

behaviour patterns.

What are the cures (if any), treatments, supports, or options for management?

OCD must be treated as it will not go away on its own. It can be effectively treated
with a combination of medication and cognitive behaviour therapy.
Medicine Therapy involves taking Antidepressants like Prozac and Zoloft
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy teaches peoples with OCD to confront their fears, reduce
their anxiety and perform activities without needing ritual repetitive behaviours.
In severe cases electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is used where a small current is
passed through electrodes placed on the scalp to produce a brief seizure

What are the long term prognosis (ie. recurrence after treatment)

OCD qualities can often be treated successfully and return to normal functioning
OCD can not be prevented but if treated early it can reduce the time a person suffers.

How does it impact youth? (or others)

Youth with OCD usually know they have obsessions that are irrational and
inappropriate but are not able to control them. They are unaware of the real cause of
their fears and anger
Those affected may experience suicidal feelings.
It is important to involve the family so that youth feel supported in their treatment or
recovery plan

What is the economic cost of this mental illness? (optional)

One in four Canadians will have at least one anxiety disorder in their lifetime
The annual cost to Canada for anxiety disorders was estimated in 1994 to be $65
billion and account for 31.8% of the total cost of all mental disorders.