I haven't done much on OCD for this blog, which is silly. I mean, ask any psychiatrist about "organic" mental health disorders and OCD will top the list. It is highly inherited, and there are forms of it that, like rheumatic heart disease, even start after a bacterial infection. Is OCD an autoimmune disease? A fair question.
OCD by definition: Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by unreasonable thoughts and fears (obsessions) that lead you to do repetitive behaviors (compulsions). With obsessive-compulsive disorder, you may realize that your obsessions aren't reasonable, and you may try to ignore them or stop them. But that only increases your distress and anxiety. Ultimately, you feel driven to perform compulsive acts in an effort to ease your stressful feelings.Clinical OCD is not the same as just liking all your stuff neat or writing notes in rainbow order with colored pens. OCD is a terrible burden. It means an hour long shower just so everything is done in the right order. Countless hidden routines and intrusive thoughts. Nasty, negative, sexual or homicidal intrisive thoughts that are so far from who you are that you are tortured by them. The disorder tends to start in childhood, so it becomes a part of who the person is.
There are certain cases of OCD that begin with a strep infection. These are thought to be due to PANDAS (pediatric autoimmine neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcus infection.) Many childhood cases of OCD involve tics and other movement disorders as well. David Sedaris has a personal take on the experience.
PANDAS strike with obsessive-compulsions and tics, also increased urinary incontinence, hyperactivity, and a deterioration in handwriting. The strep autoantibodies seem to be attacking the basal ganglia. Straight-up non PANDAS OCD doesn't seem to have these characreristics. So not every case of OCD is a PANDA.
Classic therapy for OCD involves behavior therapy and SSRIs. And I have patients with OCD on clean paleo diets who still need SSRIs for symptom remission. A rather famous "paleo" character from Robb Wolf's site, "Squatchy" (or Chris Williams) came forward to me with his history of OCD. He said I could share his story.
More about the pathology of OCD in the next article.