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OCD: Common and Troublesome

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OCD is often a disabling and chronic form of anxiety suffered by about one in 50 adults in the United States.

What is OCD?

Obsessions are persistent thoughts and ideas that continually invade the consciousness. Common obsessive themes include fear of contamination by dirt or germs, aggressive impulses, fears that someone is in danger of being harmed, and sexual images.

Compulsions are urges to carry out repetitive, stereotyped behavior in an effort to lessen anxiety that usually arises from their obsessions. Even though the obsessions are recognized as senseless, the compulsive actions are carried out in an intentional manner, at times for fear that some catastrophe may otherwise occur.

Compulsive behaviors include repetitive washing, counting, and checking, for example to be certain that a door is locked. Compulsions may also take the form of touching objects a certain number of times before leaving a room, turning lights on and off, and ordering the pencils on a desk to make sure they are all parallel to each other. (Anyone who has seen my office can be certain that I do not have this compulsion; my compulsion is constant clearing of my throat.) Just as some compulsive people avoid stepping on the cracks in a sidewalk, you may have noted that some major league pitchers carefully avoid touching the baseline as they move from the mound to their dugout.

Treatment of OCD

OCD needs to be treated because the time-consuming obsessions and compulsions are distressful and may interfere with social interactions and function in the workplace. In the absence of treatment two-thirds of patients tend to improve over time, but OCD behavior disappears fully in only about one in five.

People with mild OCD may respond to psychotherapy, but most of those with more severe OCD require medications.

Psychiatric treatment often involves “exposure therapy”: A patient who fears contamination with germs would be placed in contact with the feared object or place that was considered contaminated until the fear is eliminated. It sounds brutal, but repeated exposures may eventually result in loss of the fear.

For many years the tricyclic anti-depressant, clomipramine, was the most common drug used to treat OCD. Because of its side effects, the first choice of drug treatments for OCD is now one of the serotonin-selective reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) that are commonly used for the management of depression. These drugs include fluoxetine, paroxetine, sertraline, and fluvoxamine. When treatment with a medication is successful, it is continued for one or two years before the drug is slowly tapered.

 

Resource: http://health.yahoo.net/experts/managinghealthcare/ocd-common-and-troublesome

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Dec 27, 2013
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8 Subtle Signs of Bipolar Disorder

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When it comes to mental illness, there are plenty of stereotypes. But in reality, mood disorders can be hard to pinpoint-particularly in people with bipolar disorder symptoms.

“Chalking it up to moodiness or trouble at work or tiredness is pretty common,” says Carrie Bearden, PhD, an associate professor in residence of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and psychology at the David Geffen School of Medical at UCLA.

Here are 8 signs that your mood problems may be more than just a personality quirk:

Great mood

Bipolar disorder is characterized by up-and-down episodes of mania and depression. During a manic phase, some patients can have a total break from reality. Hypomania, which is also a symptom of the disorder, is a high-energy state in which a person feels exuberant but hasn’t lost his or her grip on reality.

Inability to complete tasks

Having a house full of half-completed projects is a hallmark of bipolar disorder. People who can harness their energy when they are in a hypomanic phase can be really productive. Some often go from task to task, planning grand, unrealistic projects that are never finished before moving on to something else.

Depression

A person who is in a bipolar depressive state is going to look just like someone who has depression. They have the same problems with energy, appetite, sleep, and focus as others who have depression.

Unfortunately, typical antidepressants alone don’t work well in patients who are bipolar. They can even make people cycle more frequently, worsening their condition.

Irritability

Some people with this condition suffer from “mixed mania,” where they experience symptoms of mania and depression at the same time. During this state, they are often extremely irritable. Moodiness often becomes so severe that it interferes with their relationships and they can’t control it.

Rapid speech

Some people are naturally talkative; we all know a “motor mouth” or “Chatty Cathy”. But “pressured speech” is one of the most common symptoms of bipolar disorder.

The person will talk rapidly and if you try to speak, they will likely just talk over you. They will also sometimes jump around from topic to topic.

Trouble at work

People with this disorder often have difficulty in the workplace because so many of their symptoms can interfere with their ability to show up for work, do their job, and interact productively with others.

Alcohol or drug abuse

About 50% of people with bipolar disorder also have a substance abuse problem, particularly alcohol abuse, Dr. Bearden says. Many people will drink when they are in a manic phase to slow themselves down, and use alcohol to improve their mood when they are depressed.

Erratic behavior

When they are in a manic phase, people with bipolar disorder can have an inflated self-esteem.

Two of the most common types of behavior that can result from this are spending sprees and unusual sexual behavior. During this episode they exhibited behavior that is not consistent with what they would do normally.

 

Resource: http://shine.yahoo.com/healthy-living/10-subtle-signs-of-bipolar-disorder-2475476.html;_ylt=A2KLOzL.0KlSOQwAUz4hmolQ

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Dec 12, 2013
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Learning to Cope with Bipolar Mood Swings

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Bipolar disorder is characterized by extreme mood swings from mania to depression.  Coping with the mood swings of bipolar disorder can be difficult. The best way to prevent moods swings is to get treatment for bipolar disorder. However, it is also possible to reduce the frequency and intensity of mood swings by being aware of situations or events that can trigger them. The most common triggers for bipolar mood swings are:

  • Stress from major life events
  • Lack of sleep
  • Caffeine and alcohol
  • Erratic schedules
  • Certain medications, such as antidepressants and corticosteroids
  • Seasonal changes
  • Thyroid problems
  • Substance abuse
  • Stopping bipolar medications or varying the treatment schedule

While some triggers might be impossible to avoid, lifestyle changes and mood-management strategies can make a big difference. Here are some suggestions from experts for managing and coping with mood swings:

  • Control Stress: As a major bipolar trigger, do what you can to simplify your life and relieve any and all stress in your work and personal life. See if your spouse, family members, and friends can help with household responsibilities. Stress-management techniques, such as meditation, visualization, and yoga can also help.
  • Keep a regular schedule: Stick to a routine to help control your mood swings. Change can be difficult for people with bipolar disorder. Have meals, do errands, exercise, and go to bed about the same time every day, even on the weekends.
  • Practice healthy sleep habits: Being overtired can trigger mania in some people. Try to relax before bed by listening to soothing music, reading, or taking a warm bath. Be disciplined about your sleep habits. Don’t stay up late watching movies or reading until you finish the book, since the lack of sleep can make your mood swings worse.
  • Get Moving: Studies have shown that regular exercise can help to improve mood. Start slowly by taking a walk around the neighborhood and gradually work up to exercising on most days of the week.
  • Write it down: Keep a journal that makes note of big events, stresses, how much sleep you are getting and what you are eating and drinking. Over time, you may see some patterns emerging. By knowing what your triggers are, you may be able to prepare for times when you might be most vulnerable to your mood swings.

Resource: http://www.everydayhealth.com/bipolar-disorder/bipolar-disorder-mood-swings.aspx

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Aug 12, 2013
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Ways to Keep Bipolar Disorder Under Control

Bipolar disorder is a serious mental health condition where episodes of mania are interspersed with bouts of depression. Generally, those with bipolar disorder are treated with mood stabilizers and other medication. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is also very important to help keep the disorder under control. Here are some strategies and healthy habits that can help people with bipolar disorder manage their condition:

  • Take Your Meds: It is very important that you take your medication everyday as prescribed by your doctor. In all, 1 in 3 people will remain completely free of symptoms of bipolar disorder by taking mood stabilizing medicine for life, so be sure to take your medicine.
  • Exercise Daily: Moderate physical activity for 30 minutes a day can help control mood swings.
  • Eat a Balanced Diet: Be sure to eat all the nutrients your body needs. Eating meals at regular times will help establish a stress-reducing daily routine.
  • Avoid Traveling into Other Time Zones: Traveling into other time zones could disrupt your medication schedule and trigger a manic episode. Be sure to call your doctor before you leave if you are planning to travel extensively.
  • Get the Same Number of Hours of Sleep Every Night: Changes in your sleep patterns can sometimes trigger a manic or depressive episode. Try your best to keep the same bedtime and rise time, varying them by no more than an hour.
  • Avoid Alcohol and Illegal Drugs: Even just having one drink could disrupt your sleep, change your mood, or interfere with your medicines, which can make symptoms worse or even trigger an episode.
  • Reduce Stress at Work and at Home: Try to keep regular hours at work so stress won’t trigger a manic or depressive episode. Counseling could help if stress at work or home is becoming a problem. Be sure to schedule some recreation in your day, even if it is just for a short period, it can help to relieve stress.
  • Limit Caffeine and Nicotine during Manic Episodes: Caffeine and Nicotine can both act as stimulants, which can make symptoms worse. Caffeine can also change your sleeping habits, so it is best to avoid or limit your caffeine intake.
  • Seek Treatment Immediately: By getting treatment immediately, you will be helping yourself to proactively manage symptoms of a depressive or manic episode and avoid disruptions to your life.

Hopefully these healthy tips will help you maintain a healthy lifestyle that will allow you to gain control of your bipolar disorder.

 

Resource: http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20306987,00.html

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Apr 10, 2013
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