This is the third article in 4-part series focusing on Depression, Postpartum Depression, Anxiety, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD/ADHD), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Panic Disorder, and how exercise can be effective in their treatment.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by intrusive thoughts that produce uneasiness, apprehension, fear or worry, and is characterized by repetitive behaviors aimed at reducing the associated anxiety, or by a combination of such obsessions and compulsions. Symptoms of the disorder include excessive washing or cleaning, repeated checking, extreme hoarding, preoccupation with religious thought, aversion to particular numbers, and nervous rituals such as opening and closing a door a certain number of times before entering or leaving a room. These symptoms can be alienating and time-consuming, and often cause severe emotional and financial distress. The actions of those who have OCD may appear paranoid and potentially psychotic. (OCD sufferers generally recognize that their obsessions and compulsions are irrational; however, they may become further distressed by this realization.)
OCD is the fourth most common mental disorder, and is diagnosed nearly as often as asthma and diabetes mellitus. In the United States, one in 50 adults suffers from OCD. It affects children and adolescents as well as adults. Roughly 33-50% of adults with OCD report a childhood onset of the disorder, suggesting the continuum of anxiety disorders across the life span.
According to a team of Duke University-led psychiatrists, Behavioral Therapy (BT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and medications should all be regarded as first-line treatments for OCD. Medications include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as paroxetine, sertraline, fluoxetine, escitalopram and fluvoxamine, and the tricyclic antidepressants - in particular, clomipramine.
In a review of three separate meta-analyses, investigators at Arizona State University found that patients who participated in at least 21 minutes daily of aerobic exercise experienced a reduction in anxiety (Petruzzello SJ et al; 1991). A more recent study from Canadian researchers at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg noted that regular exercise may help people who suffer from OCD, phobias and other psychiatric disorders. When the investigators examined studies of anxiety disorder and exercise dating back to 1981, they found that strength training, running, walking, and other forms of aerobic exercise help relieve mild to moderate depression and may also help treat anxiety and substance abuse.
Part IV in this series will explore the effects of exercise and Panic Disorder.
To read previous articles, please visit:
Exercise and Your Mental Health - An Overview
Exercise and Your Mental Health - Part I
Exercise and Your Mental Health - Part II
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