I Just Can’t Get Those Worries Out of My Head!

Recurring, intrusive, disproportionate worries are a common component of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). These worries are typically experienced as uncontrollable. In the brain, OCD represents the inability of circuits or pathways to shut off, leading to these repetitive and difficult to control thoughts and worries. The failure of the loop to shut off prevents the mind from turning away from the obsessive thought or worry. The loop connects the deep emotional areas of the brain to the frontal lobes, the area behind the forehead. So, there is no break on the system that would allow the brain to shut off negative thoughts, worries and fears.

Furthermore, there is an excess amount of worries and fears generated because the part of the brain that detects errors in one’s environment and thoughts is overactive, generating exaggerated concerns.  So, there are more negative thoughts generated and the brain can’t pump the breaks on them.

In addition, serotonin, a brain chemical messenger, appears to not function properly in OCD. Adjusting serotonin activity with medication, such as the SSRIs (Specific Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors [see Blog below on Reuptake Inhibitors]), like Zoloft or Paxil, can be effective and is a commonly used approach. Addressing the biological component with medication, and the psychological component with psychotherapy, usually Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (including Exposure/Response-Prevention), constitutes the most commonly recommended approach to treating OCD.

Best Regards, Dr. Ranen (Psychiatrist Baltimore, Baltimore County, Owings Mills). https://drnealranenbaltimorepsychiatrist.com