Dr. Andrew Weil, noted pioneer and expert in integrated medicine, posted an article on OCD last week, on the same day I referenced the disorder here. Seemed more fortuitous than coincidental, so I decided to reprint a portion of his article. If you’d like to read the rest of his informative article, follow the link.
“What is obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)?
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is one of the anxiety disorders. It is a potentially crippling and chronic condition. The individual who suffers from OCD is caught in a cycle of repetitive thoughts and behaviors that even they often realize are senseless and distressing but that remain extremely difficult to defeat. For many years, mental health professionals thought of OCD as uncommon because only a fraction of their patients had the condition. The disorder often went unrecognized because many of those afflicted with OCD, in efforts to keep their repetitive thoughts and behaviors hidden, failed to seek help. This led to underestimates of the number of people with the illness. However, a survey conducted in the early 1980s by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) - the Federal agency that supports research nationwide on the brain, mental illnesses and mental health - provided insight about the prevalence of OCD. The NIMH survey showed that OCD affects more than 2 percent of the population, meaning that OCD is more common than schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or panic disorder. OCD strikes people of all ethnic groups. Males and females are equally affected.
People with OCD should not be confused with a much larger group of individuals who are sometimes called “compulsive” - they hold themselves to a high standard of performance and are perfectionists and very organized in their work and even in recreational activities. This type of “compulsiveness” often serves a valuable purpose, contributing to a person’s self-esteem and success on the job. In that respect, it differs from the obsessions and rituals of the person with OCD, which interfere with daily life.”