Do Symptoms of OCD Lead to Headaches?

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OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) is a long-term illness that is disabling and very disturbing for the person suffering from this anxiety disorder. OCD consists of unwanted repetitive thoughts that the person is compelled to do. Some people have fear of becoming contaminated which leads to washing hands repeatedly for long periods of time. Rituals can become so severe that the person is unable to function properly in everyday life.

Significance

OCD causes tremendous stress. The stress of continuous rituals that the person is compelled to perform is so unbearable that it can lead to migraine headaches. The sufferer knows that these rituals don't make sense and that they need to stop, but can't. It is difficult for family members to understand why the person can't just stop. The person affected with OCD tries to hide their symptoms from their family members, because they are embarrassed and afraid.

Symptoms

Symptoms include constant checking that the door is locked or that the stove is off, cleaning consistently, feeling the need to have things in a certain order, fear of contamination, counting, washing hair over and over, repeating hand washing, bathing for hours, brushing teeth for more than 10 minutes and hoarding. Extremely red and bleeding hands is most often seen with people who suffer from hand washing rituals. They usually wear gloves to hide their hands. Bathing rituals causes severe skin problems because of the constant scrubbing.

Causes

A chemical imbalance in the brain consisting of low levels of serotonin (neurotransmitters) is believed to be the leading cause of OCD.
Strep throat or scarlet fever can cause the onset of symptoms of OCD in children and teens. OCD is not believed to be inherited.

Treatment

There are many options available for the treatment of OCD. Antidepressants such as fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, sertraline, paroxetine, zoloft and prozac are very effective. Once the symptoms of OCD begin to lessen, the headaches that accommodate these symptoms will dissipate.
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is used for the more severe symptoms of OCD. Behavioral therapy combined with antidepressant medications is also being utilized for relief of OCD symptoms. Side affects such as nausea, diarrhea and drowsiness are common with antidepressants.

Warnings

OCD should be treated immediately, before symptoms worsen to a point of unfavorable treatment. Persons taking antidepressants are encouraged not to drink alcoholic beverages, because alcohol increases drowsiness effects of the drug and could be fatal. If headaches don't go away within a couple of days of treatment, it could mean that the medication is working against you instead of for you. Contact your physician right away.

Expert Insight

In his book "Brain Lock," Jeffrey M. Schwartz introduces a 4-step method for overcoming OCD. It is now being used in treatment centers worldwide. This book is a self-treatment method without the use of drugs. This title fits the bill exactly. With OCD, your brain "locks" and that's the repetition.

Potential

With antidepressants and behavioral therapy offered as treatments for OCD, the potential for OCD sufferers to live a normal life is on the rise. Within two months of taking antidepressants, symptoms begin to lessen more and more everyday.

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