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What Is OCD? Doctors Break Down the Different Types of OCD, Treatment Options, and More



The sweat. The stress. The skin-to-skin contact. While these are standard elements of boxing matches, the thought of these things can be debilitating for those with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), a mental state marked by intense thoughts and fears that can lead to repetitive, compulsive behaviors – which is why it is so surprising that Olympic boxer Virginia “Ginny” Fuchs was diagnosed with the disease.

Ginny shares her story in the Apple TV + documentary series The Me You Can’t See and is particularly concerned with fears of contamination and cross-contamination, which are manifested in several daily “washing rituals”. As an Olympic athlete who practices a contact-heavy sport, she has successfully dealt with her condition with the help of therapy.

Your therapist, clinical psychologist Dr. Angela Smith, PhD., explains that the emotion most commonly associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder is anxiety, added: “Some people describe disgust, guilt, or a ‘wrong’ feeling.”

But what exactly is OCD? Is there a chance that you may have it or that someone you love may be dealing with the disorder? Learn all about this mental illness from the lessons Smith shared with you Dr. Neil Leibowitz, Chief Medical Officer of Beacon Health Options, and Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge, Expert in integrative and pediatric mental health and member of the member International OCD Foundation (IOCDF) and the Anxiety & Depression Association of America (ADAA).

What is OCD?

According to Dr. Leibowitz is OCD “a cycle of obsession that involves a pattern of unwanted thoughts, images, or urges that lead to compulsions or repetitive behaviors that are an attempt to neutralize those obsessive thoughts”. While these compulsions can provide some temporary relief from anxiety and stress, the feelings can easily be re-triggered, causing the cycle to repeat itself.

“To have obsessive-compulsive disorder, the degree or extent of the impairment must create significant stress and affect a person’s daily activities and life,” adds Dr. Leibowitz added.

Dr. As Capanna-Hodge explains, “It’s like feeding a barking dog because every time you let yourself into the intrusive thoughts, you accidentally let them happen – then they’re more likely to occur. Someone with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder doesn’t do these behaviors on purpose. “

The ADAA reports that OCD affects 1% of the US population and is equally common in men and women.

Connected: Camila Cabello reveals “painfully uphill” battle with OCD and “relentless fear”

Are People Born With OCD?

People are not necessarily “born” with OCD. Smith points out that OCD most commonly develops in adolescence, but can also develop in early childhood or adulthood. Challenging events can lead to OCD.

“Traumatic events can be the precursors of many negative experiences, including developing obsessive-compulsive disorder,” she says. “Studies show wide-ranging rates of obsessive-compulsive disorder and co-occurrence Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), but the trauma and development of PTSD can also occur after a diagnosis of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. “

Is OCD Hereditary?

Smith says, “Like other anxiety-based disorders, OCD occurs in families, and in fact, it is more likely to occur in families than panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and generalized anxiety. Having an immediate family member doesn’t necessarily mean someone will develop obsessive-compulsive disorder, however. Likewise, some with OCD have no family member with the disorder. “

What happens in the brain

As with other mental disorders, the activity that takes place in the brain of someone with OCD is a rather tangled web.

“In certain areas of the brain, such as the cortex, striatum and thalamus, there is increased activity in circuits or loops,” says Dr. Leibowitz. “This leads to the development of obsessions, and compulsion is the response that provides temporary relief. But the relief is only temporary, and the compulsive behavior actually serves to strengthen the circulation and create that loop of obsessions and compulsions. “

The brain chemical serotonin plays an important role in this. “We know this, at least in part, because the main drugs we use to treat OCD affect serotonin,” says Dr. Leibowitz.

Connected: 10 of the best mental health movies ever made

What are the different types of OCD?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is not a universal mental disorder. It appears in many forms.

Smith shares that there are “several joint presentations” by OCD which she believes include:

  • Obsessions to contamination (e.g. fear of illness and associated hand washing, showering, and avoiding things that are considered contaminated)
  • Damage obsessions (e.g. fear of inadvertently harming yourself or others and related review and avoidance)
  • Unacceptable thoughts (e.g. thoughts with a sexual, violent, or blasphemous topic)
  • “Not just right” experiences associated with feeling that things don’t feel “right” and pushing to correct the feeling by doing behavior to make it feel right

What difficulties do people with OCD have?

“Intrusive thoughts and compulsive behavior hijack a person’s brain and make everyday life very difficult,” says Dr. Capanna-Hodge. “When your brain is constantly in a state of anxiety, it is difficult to be connected, focus, and even do simple tasks when these intrusive thoughts and compulsions are intense. Many people with obsessive-compulsive disorder are highly functional and go through phases of weight gain and loss in which the thoughts and compulsions are less or more intense. “

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a complex disorder that can cause diagnosed individuals to feel isolated and “different”. In fact, it’s more complex than many think.

“The first problem with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is that it’s underdiagnosed,” says Dr. Leibowitz. “This is often due to misdiagnosis. People can be diagnosed with Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Depression, anxiety, or other disorders when they actually have obsessive-compulsive disorder. “

And while there are treatment options, Dr. Leibowitz states that it is difficult to treat, saying, “There are limited medication options for people with OCD, and many people do not achieve full remission.”

How does someone get an OCD diagnosis?

“A diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive disorder can be made by a psychiatrist such as a psychologist or psychiatrist and is based on the presentation and severity of the symptoms, the time spent with obsessions and compulsions, the level of distress and disruption from the symptoms and symptoms Consider other potential disruptions, ”says Smith.

What treatment options are there?

Our experts share different treatment options that are available to people with OCD. They include:

  • Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy (ERP) is considered the “gold standard” treatment that combines exposure therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and gradually exposes a person to their triggers so they can learn to feel uncomfortable to the point where they are can tolerate it and ignore its triggers
  • Medications called Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) include Paxil, Prozac, and Lexapro
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), a newer approach to treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder, a non-invasive form of brain stimulation that relies on a magnetic field to deliver electrical currents to specific areas of the brain
  • Neurofeedback, a type of biofeedback given by a psychiatrist that provides live feedback on brain activity and reinforces positive behavior
  • Alternative approaches like mindfulness, yoga, meditation, and anything else that calms the nervous system

Smith says 7 out of 10 people with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder benefit from ERP or medication.

Connected: In a year where we are struggling with our mental health more than ever, here is everything you need to know about online therapy

Is OCD curable?

Like other mental disorders, OCD is not “curable” although, as Dr. Leibowitz explains, “can go back to a point where it doesn’t bother the person”. Adding that it can grow and decrease over time, he says, “An important goal is to get the person to cope with the disorder.”

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Summing up the incurability of obsessive-compulsive disorder, Smith offers hope: “It is becoming clear that a person’s experience with OCD will never completely go away because thoughts, feelings, and urges are a permanent part of the human experience. When the question is, ‘Does suffering have to be infinite?’ The answer is absolutely not. There is considerable research support in both psychological and pharmacological approaches to reduce the suffering that results from unwanted thoughts, uncomfortable feelings, and the cycle maintained by obsessive-compulsive behavior. “

Next Up, Discover 30 of the best mental health apps.


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Wildfire Survivors Could Face Higher Cancer Risk – Consumer Health News



MONDAY, May 16, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Wildfires, like the one currently raging in New Mexico, are known to cause upticks in breathing issues and heart attacks in their immediate wake for folks who live nearby.

Now, new Canadian research shows that these fires may also increase risk for lung and brain cancer over time.

People who lived within about 30 miles of wildfires over the prior 10 years were 10% more likely to develop brain cancer and had a 5% higher risk for lung cancer, compared to folks living further away from these fires.

“We saw a consistent signal for lung and brain cancer risk among people who live near wildfires,” said study author Scott Weichenthal. He’s an associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health at McGill University in Montreal. “We know that a whole range of carcinogens are released during wildfires that may increase the risk for these cancers.”

Wildfires typically begin in forests, grassland or prairies, and are often caused by campfires left unattended, still-lit discarded cigarette butts, sparks from power lines, or arson.

These fires tend to occur in similar parts of the country, so people living in these areas can be continuously exposed to the potentially cancer-causing wildfire pollutants, the study authors noted.

Making matters worse, “wildfires are occurring more frequently, covering larger parts of the country, and wildfire season is starting earlier,” Weichenthal said. These changes are likely due to global warming and climate change, he believes.

For the study, Weichenthal and his colleagues (including PhD student Jill Korsiak, who led the analysis), tracked 20 years of data on more than 2 million Canadians to learn more about how wildfires affect people’s risk for certain cancers.

The study wasn’t designed to look at specific toxins in smoke that may increase cancer risks. “There’s still a lot to learn about the kind of pollution that sticks around after the fire,” Weichenthal said.

It’s not just about outdoor air pollution: “Wildfires also pollute water, soil and indoor air,” he noted.

dr Mary Prunicki, who reviewed the new study, stressed that “we know more about the short-term effects of wildfires than we do about their long-term impact.” She directs air pollution and health research at the Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy Research at Stanford University School of Medicine in California.

On the day of and days immediately following a wildfire, there’s an uptick in hospital visits for asthma attacks, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) exacerbations, and other lung conditions, Prunicki said.

“There is a strong literature showing an increase in heart attacks, cardiac arrests and strokes among people who have been exposed to wildfire smoke, especially those who have a preexisting condition,” she explained.

Anyone living near wildfire smoke may have burning eyes, a runny nose, cough and/or difficulty breathing.

Exactly what’s in the smoke depends on what is burning, Prunicki said, but “in general, wildfires contain small particulate matter that can penetrate deep into the lungs and cause health problems.

“There are various toxins that could be in the smoke that have already been associated independently with increases in lung cancer, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons [PAHs],” she added.

There are steps you can take to protect your health if you live in a part of the country where wildfires are common. According to Prunicki, these including understanding your indoor air quality, and if it’s poor, using an air purifier or a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter in your central air conditioning or heating unit. These filters can help remove pollutants from the air you breathe.

Also, “if you have underlying heart or lung conditions, make sure you have your medication at the ready, too,” Prunicki said.

It’s important as well to reduce the risk of wildfires when you’re enjoying the great outdoors, including dousing your campfire with water until it’s cold to make sure it’s really out.

The new study was published in the May 2022 issue of The Lancet Planetary Health.

More information

Sign up for local air quality notices via the Environmental Protection Agency.

SOURCES: Scott Weichenthal, PhD, associate professor, Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada; Mary Prunicki, MD, PhD, director, air pollution and health research, Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy Research, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, Calif.; The Lancet Planetary Health, May 2022

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Mental health for kids should be top of mind for parents



A panel from the Huntsman Mental Health Institute speaks to parents about mental health treatments and prevention for their children on Thursday. (Emily Ashcraft,

Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — Local experts are teaching parents the skills they need to help children who exhibit mental health issues.

“If your child … has a mental health problem, it doesn’t mean you’re a failure as a parent,” Amanda Miller, director of intermediate services at the Huntsman Mental Health Institute, said during the facility’s second “community conversation ” held as part of Mental Health Awareness Month in May.

She said it is important for parents to recognize that mental health issues are an illness, and while environmental stressors can bring them out, biology plays a huge role.

The virtual panel discussion was aimed to educate parents about the things to watch for to know if children are encountering mental health issues, discourage them to talk to their kids, limit electronic devices and to take mental health concerns seriously. It is important to also seek help if and when it is needed.

Children also experience mental health issues differently that adults, said Radha Moldover, who manages Teenscope South, a day treatment center for youth mental health.

She said that for children, depression doesn’t necessarily mean they are sad more often — it can instead manifest as being irritable, annoyed or more sensitive. Moldover said depression in children can be mistaken for teenage moodiness. She also noted that children with attention deficit disorders are at a higher risk for developing depression.

The treatment center located at the Huntsman Mental Health Institute, formerly known as University Neuropsychiatric Institute, provides parents with information about validation, including how to talk and listen to their children, while teaching children about regulating emotions and mindfulness skills.

She said there are a lot of electronic resources available for parents and their families, including apps, YouTube channels and websites. Moldover suggested using these resources if there is a wait and a child cannot see a therapist immediately. Other panelists suggested community groups and school counselors.

Lindsay Wilson-Barlow, who is a child psychiatrist at the Huntsman Mental Health Institute, said that while there are a lot of resources available to help teenagers, just being available as a parent is a good place to start.

“Being there, you know, having your child see you as a resource and somebody who cares and somebody who can be present is, I think the very first step,” Wilson-Barlow said.

She said parents don’t necessarily need to have intense conversations with their children about mental issues, but they should play games together or eat together. She is also stressed that children need to have a sense of connection and community, and have a balance between social media and interacting with friends and others.

Wilson-Barlow suggested setting limits for internet and phone time.

“Generally speaking, what we want to do is create balance,” she said.

Parents can set rules for electronic devices, and if situations change, they can change the rules and provide explanations for those changes, according to Kristin Francis, a child and adolescent psychiatrist who led the panel discussion on Thursday.

Francis said health officials are seeing an “unprecedented need” for mental health services, and it’s possible the COVID-19 pandemic kept people from seeking mental health care while also possibly causing additional stresses.

“Something from the pandemic I’ve definitely seen is that more people recognize it’s OK to not be OK, and they’re seeking help,” she said.

If there is a wait to see a provider, it is likely because the provider is trying to provide quality care to patients whom they have already committed to seeing regularly.

The first community conversation — held last week — was focused on the SafeUT App, which allows youth and certain adults to text a mental health professional at any time. Members of Thursday’s panel suggested that parents should make sure the app is downloaded on their child’s phone before an issue comes up.

“Even if you’re not at that place, it’s a good thing to just introduce to your child,” Wilson-Barlow said.

The final community conversation, which will be available to the public, will include a panel of youth who are sharing how they manage their own mental health issues. The online presentation, “Healing out loud: Unmasking the mental health stigma,” will be held at 6 pm on May 19. More information can be found at


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Emily Ashcraft joined as a reporter in 2021. She covers courts and legal affairs, as well as health, faith and religion news.

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Hypertensive pregnancy disorders linked to future cardiac events




Monday, May 9, 2022

NIH-funded study explains factors linked to increased risk for heart attack or stroke among women who have pregnancy problems related to high blood pressure.

Women who experienced complications related to developing high blood pressure, or hypertension, during pregnancy had a 63% increased risk for developing cardiovascular disease later in life, according to research funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health.

While hypertensive pregnancy complications previously have been linked to increased cardiovascular risks, the current study controlled for pre-pregnancy shared risk factors for these types of complications and cardiovascular disease. Researchers also found that high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, or being overweight or obese after pregnancy accounted for most of the increased risk between pregnancy complications and future cardiovascular events.

The findings, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, could support healthcare providers in developing personalized heart disease prevention and monitoring strategies for women who had hypertension during pregnancy. The information could also help bridge the gap that often occurs after a woman ends obstetric care and resumes or starts care with another provider.

Using health data shared by more than 60,000 participants in the Nurses’ Health Study II, the research represents one of the most comprehensive reviews evaluating links between future cardiovascular events in women who have had preeclampsia or gestational hypertension. Gestational hypertension is characterized by an increase in blood pressure during pregnancy. Preeclampsia is a more severe complication marked by a sudden rise in blood pressure that can affect the organs and be dangerous for both mother and baby. Both conditions are often diagnosed after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

“Women with a history of gestational hypertension or preeclampsia should be informed that they have an increased risk for cardiovascular disease,” said Jennifer J. Stuart, Sc.D., a study author and associate epidemiologist in the Division of Women’s Health at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston. “While the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology recognize these conditions as cardiovascular risk factors, women and their providers have lacked clear direction on what to do in the intervening years between delivery of a hypertensive pregnancy and the onset of cardiovascular disease.”

The researchers’ analysis showed that early screening and monitoring in four targeted areas – blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels, and body mass index – could provide even more personalized targets to help delay or possibly prevent future cardiovascular events among these women.

In this study, almost 10% of women developed hypertension during their first pregnancy. Among these women, 3,834 (6.4%) developed preeclampsia and 1,789 (3%) developed gestational hypertension. Women who were obese before pregnancy were three times more likely to experience a hypertensive pregnancy disorder, and those with a family history of heart disease or stroke also shared increased risks. In their analysis, the researchers controlled for these and other important pre-pregnancy factors that could increase the risk of developing hypertension during pregnancy and having a heart attack or stroke later in life.

After about 30 years, when the average age of women in the study was 61 years, approximately 1,074 (1.8%) of study participants had experienced a cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack or stroke. The type of event women had – and when they had it – often overlapped with specific pregnancy complications.

For example, compared to women with normal blood pressure in pregnancy, women with gestational hypertension, which was associated with a 41% increased risk for cardiovascular disease, were more likely to have a stroke about 30 years after their first pregnancy. Women with preeclampsia, which was associated with a 72% increased cardiovascular risk, were more likely to have a coronary artery event, such as a heart attack, as early as 10 years after their first pregnancy.

Post-pregnancy cardiometabolic risk factors, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and chronic hypertension, explained most of the increased cardiovascular risk observed among women with gestational hypertension or preeclampsia. Chronic hypertension was the largest contributor of all, accounting for 81% of increased cardiovascular disease risks among women who had gestational hypertension and for 48% of increased risks among women who had preeclampsia. Most women who experienced a hypertensive pregnancy disorder developed chronic hypertension in the years or decades after they gave birth.

“This study reinforces how important it is for women and their healthcare providers to address known cardiovascular disease risk factors, such as obesity or having high blood pressure, while thinking about starting a family and then during and after during pregnancy,” said Victoria Pemberton, RNC, a program officer at NHLBI.

For future research, Stuart said diversity is key. Most women in the Nurses’ Health Study II were white, which means the percentage of women affected by different risk factors may vary. The study also provides a foundation to expand on emerging associations, such as studying links between gestational hypertension and stroke and between preeclampsia and coronary artery disease.

Additionally, while over 80% of the increased risk for cardiovascular disease among women with a history of gestational hypertension appears to be jointly accounted for by established cardiovascular risk factors, nearly 40% of the risk for cardiovascular disease following preeclampsia remains unexplained.

Investigating these pathways may help clarify why some women who experienced preeclampsia are more likely to develop heart disease. By better understanding these connections, researchers may be able to contribute insight to help healthcare providers provide even more personalized recommendations and strategies for women at greatest risk.

The research was also supported by grants from the National Cancer Institute and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

To learn more about heart health and pregnancy, visit pregnancy.

About the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI): NHLBI is the global leader in conducting and supporting research in heart, lung, and blood diseases and sleep disorders that advances scientific knowledge, improves public health, and saves lives. For more information, visit

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH):
NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 institutes and centers and is a component of the US Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

NIH…Turning Discovery Into Health®


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