The Nurses Role in Treating OCD

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January 12, 2022
Author: Lorman Education

Obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, is a neurological anxiety disorder that causes unwanted, intrusive thoughts in the person and makes him or her feel compelled to do certain activities repeatedly. These obsessions are involuntary, uncontrollable thoughts or impulses that occur in the patient's mind from time to time. Compulsions on the other hand, are repetitive actions or behavior that the patient performs to get rid of the obsessions. OCD patients, who suffer from both obsessions and compulsions, often feel distressed due to the apprehensions and worries that come with it. Many behavioral theories suggest that OCD stems from the need to keep obsessive thoughts at bay, by tackling it with compulsive behavior.

Child and Adult OCD Symptoms

OCD in children is very similar to that in adults. While adults often recognize these patterns, children don't. Children with OCD may show compulsive activities like having their homework checked repeatedly, or insisting on their laundry being done many times or getting perturbed if things are in disarray. Their obsessions can range from fear of illness or contamination to excessive doubt, to a need for things to be perfect or in place. Adults who have OCD show an avoiding behavior towards anything that might set off their symptoms. They also try to get their attention off it by thinking of something else, with hopes of dealing with it. Some adults have a tendency to get their family or friends to engage in their compulsions.

How to Treat OCD

OCD is treated through medications or psychotherapy. Based on the OCD diagnosis and the patient's preferences, the doctor will decide on which treatment to use. Sometimes, the doctor might suggest employing psychotherapy in conjunction with medication or using alternate therapies.

At the start, the doctor usually advises the patient to take a prescribed antidepressant, so as to increase the serotonin levels. The doctor might use CBT(Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) so as to help the patient unlearn patterns and obsessions. During therapy, the patient is taught to counter obsessive thoughts with relaxation tools, so as to reduce compulsive behavior. The patient is slowly exposed to the situation or object that he fears and is taught new ways to deal with anxiety. Alternative therapies may require for the patient to be under psychiatric hospitalization.

How Should Nurses Act Around OCD Patients?

1)    Try to keep them at low stress levels, especially at the start of OCD treatment.

2)    Make sure that you set rigid rules for the patient's behavior and see to it that they are enforced consistently.

3)    Encourage them to comply with behavior therapies and medication.

4)    While it is a common instinct of OCD patients to seek for reassurance so as to reduce anxiety, do not allow them to indulge this habit.

5)    Try to avoid comparing them with others, with or without OCD, as those with an OCD may already suffer from a low self-esteem.

6)    Be encouraging and supportive, and help the patient set reachable goals in dealing with OCD.

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