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Obsessions & Compulsions
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Obsessions and Compulsions & The HD Patient
Caring For People With Huntington's Disease
Kansas University Medical Center
An obsession is a constant concern or worry about one or more things that may or may not be grounded in reality. An example may be worrying that one's disability status may be taken away. While this may in some cases be a reality based worry, in most cases once disability is granted for Huntington's disease in the United States it is not taken away.
 
A compulsion is a feeling of needing to o actually performing a task over and over. Compulsions, like obsessions can be grounded in reality. If you realize that your memory is not what it used to be, you may need to check to be certain that you have locked the door or turned off the stove.
 
When obsessions or compulsions get to the point that they are consuming too much of one's time or they get to the point where the compulsion of obsession is in itself worrisome, something should be done.

Sometimes, calm rational discussions with the person can help them to confront the fear that has led to their obsession and allow them to cope. In the above example of disability, the caregiver as well the health care provider can help to reassure the person with Huntington's disease that there disability status is not in jeopardy.

A compulsive behavior in a patient who has trouble communicating can be difficult. Carol Moskowitz and Lori Quinn have taken care of a women with Huntington's disease with excessive thirst. They found that when they cooled her room to around 60 degrees, her thirst diminished. Her compulsive thirst was apparently a reaction to a feeling of being hot. In a colder environment the thirst abated.