Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

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  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
    • Biological explanations of OCD:
      • Genetics: Candidate genes (researchers have identified genes which create vulnerability for OCD) // It is polygenic, meaning there are various genes involved, not just one // Different types of OCD have a different group of genes responsible... This is known as 'aetiologically heterogenous'
        • Evaluation: (Strengths) Twin studies have confirmed genetic basis of OCD. One study carried out by Nestadt et al found a 68% concordance rate between MZ twins and only a 31% CR between DZ. However, not 100%, suggesting other influences, also publication bias - only successful studies are generally published.
        • Evaluation: (limitations)Too many candidate genes - little predictive detail about OCD based on genes because there are too many involved // environmental stress trigger is important in the development of OCD in many cases - Many patients who suffer from severe OCD have had traumatic experience (so diathesis stress model should be considered...)
      • Neural explanations:Low serotonin levels = mood relevant information cannot be transmitted // Decision-making systems in brain (in the frontal lobes) are believed to function abnormaly in OCD sufferers
        • Evaluation: (strengths) Drug therapies that target the serotonin system have proved to be effective, suggesting it plays a role in OCD...
        • Evaluation: (limitations) Cause and effect - difficult to determine if abnormal brain functioning causes the OCD or whether it is the result of it // Comorbid with depression - low serotonin may be result of the depression...
    • characteristics of OCD:
      • Behavioural:  Compulsive, repetitive behaviour (reduces anxiety) e.g constant hand-washing due to fear of germs.
      • cognitive: obsessive thoughts, Mental coping strategies, Insight/awareness that they have the condition and that their behaviours/cognitions are irrational
      • Emotional: Extreme anxiety, guilt and disgust, depression
    • Treatments (biological) of OCD: SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) Increases serotonin levels in brain by preventing the reabsorption of it. // Combing SSRI with CBT (adopting interactionist approach) // Alternatives to SSRIs (If have not responded well to SSRIs - can take Tricyclics, although have more severe side effects...
      • Strength: Effective in most cases - studies comparing placebos with SSRI find better results for those who take the SSRIs // Drug therapies are also cheap
      • Limitations: Some of the drugs have more severe side effects (the tricyclics) - can disrupt patient's lives and can stop taking them // Also some cases of OCD follow trauma so drug therapies may not be best option...

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