What Is OCD Disorder
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a common, chronic and long-lasting disorder where a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions), feeling the urge to repeat actions/or movements over and over again.
OCD can be broken down into two major components.
The first consists of obsessive thoughts that provoke high anxiety, and the second is compulsions, which are urges to do rituals, or practice certain behaviors to try and control those thoughts and anxieties.
At some point in their lives, some people have obsessive thoughts and/or compulsive behaviors, but that does not necessarily mean they will have some kind of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
If these obsessions and compulsions become so extreme and consuming a lot of time, a diagnosis of obsessive compulsive disorder needs to be made.
Causes Of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
The cause of obsessive compulsive disorder isn’t fully understood, but the main theories include:
Biology: OCD may be a result of changes in your body’s own natural chemistry, or some brain functions due to many reasons.
Genetics: OCD may have a genetic component, but specific genes have yet to be identified and more thorough researches are made.
Environment: Some environmental factors can be a trigger for OCD, but more research is needed to prove the environmental impact.
There are some factors that may increase the risk of developing/or triggering obsessive compulsive disorder such as:
Family history: If you have family members/parents with this disorder, it can increase the risk of developing this condition.
Stressful life events: If you’ve experienced at any point in your life traumatic or stressful events, they may trigger intrusive thoughts, rituals and emotional distress which are very typical for OCD disorder.
Complications With OCD
Many problems can arise from this disorder such as :
- Some health issues (contact dermatitis from frequent hand-washing)
- Inability to attend work, school or other social activities
- Problems with relationships
- Poor (low) quality of life
- Suicidal thoughts and behavior
Common OCD Behaviors(Symptoms)
Obsessions often have themes including:
- Fear of contamination or dirt
- Needing things orderly and symmetrical
- Aggressive or horrific thoughts about harming yourself or others
- Unwanted thoughts, including aggression, or sexual or religious subjects
- Body fluids
- Environmental contaminants
- Household chemicals
Unwanted Sexual Thoughts
- Forbidden or perverse sexual thoughts or images
- Forbidden or perverse sexual impulses about others
- Obsessions about homosexuality
- Sexual obsessions that involve children or incest
- Obsessions about aggressive sexual behavior towards others
Losing Control and Fears
- Fear of acting on an impulse to harm oneself and others
- Fear of violent or horrific images in one’s mind
- Fear of blurting out obscenities or insults
- Fear of stealing things
- Concern with offending God, or concern about blasphemy
- Excessive concern with right/wrong or morality
- Concern about evenness or exactness
- Concern with a need to know or remember things
- Fear of losing or forgetting important information
- Inability to decide whether to keep or to discard things
- Fear of losing things
Obsessions of Harm
- Fear of being responsible for something terrible happening
- Fear of harming others because of not being careful enough
- Concern with getting a physical illness or disease
- Superstitious ideas about lucky/unlucky numbers, and certain colors
What Are Compulsions
They are the second part of obsessive compulsive disorder.
These are repetitive behaviors/or thoughts that a person uses with the intention of neutralizing, counteracting, or making their obsessions go away.
Note that not all repetitive behaviors or “rituals” are compulsions.
You always have to look at the function and the context of the OCD behavior.
For example, bedtime routines, religious practices, and learning a new skill involve some level of repeating an activity over and over again, but are usually a positive and functional part of daily life.
Behaviors depend on the context.
It doesn’t mean that arranging and ordering books for many hours a day is a compulsion, if the person works in a library.
Similarly, you may have “compulsive” behaviors that wouldn’t fall under OCD, if you are just a stickler for details or like to have things neatly arranged.
In this case, “compulsive” refers to a personality trait or something about yourself that you actually prefer or like.
Common Compulsions in OCD
In most cases, individuals diagnosed with OCD feel driven to engage in compulsive behavior, and would rather not have to do these time consuming acts.
In this category falls:
Washing and Cleaning
- Washing hands excessively, or in a certain way
- Excessive showering, bathing, tooth-brushing, grooming ,or toilet routines
- Cleaning excessively household items or other objects
- Doing other things to prevent, or remove contact with contaminants
- Mental review of events to prevent harm
- Praying to prevent harm
- Counting while performing a task
- Checking that you did not/or will not harm others and yourself
- Checking that nothing terrible happened
- Checking that you did not make a mistake
- Checking some parts of your physical condition, or your body
- Re-reading or re-writing
- Repeating routine activities (going in or out doors, getting up or down from chairs)
- Repeating body movements (tapping, touching, blinking)
- Repeating activities in multiples times (doing a task three times because three is a “good,” “right,” or“safe” number)
- Putting things in order, or arranging things until it “feels right”
- Telling, asking, or confessing to get reassurance
- Avoiding situations that might trigger obsessions
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder usually begins in the teen or young adult years, and symptoms usually begin gradually and tend to vary to more severe ones throughout life.
Symptoms generally worsen when you experience greater stress, and if not treated on time, it can become a life-long disorder, with mild to severe symptoms, and become so much time-consuming, that it may disable you from having a normal life.
When To See A Doctor
There’s a difference between being a perfectionist and having OCD.
OCD thoughts aren’t simply excessive worries about real problems in your life, or just liking to have things clean and arranged in a specific way.
If your obsessions and compulsions are affecting your quality of life, you need to make decision to see your doctor, or mental health professional to handle this condition as soon as possible, before it ruins your life.
Treatments and Therapy
OCD is typically treated with medication, psychotherapy or a combination of the two. Although most patients with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder respond to treatment, some patients continue to experience further symptoms.
Sometimes, people with OCD also have other mental disorders, such as anxiety, depression, and body dysmorphic disorder, a disorder in which someone mistakenly believes that a part of their body is abnormal.
It is important to consider these other disorders when making decisions about treatment options.
If you are prescribed to take medications, you need to consider following:
- Talk with your doctor or a pharmacist to make sure you understand the risks and benefits of the medications you’re taking
- Do not stop taking a medication without talking to your doctor first. Suddenly stopping a medication may lead to “rebound” or worsening of OCD symptoms, as well as “welcoming” the possibility of having dangerous withdrawal effects
- In case you notice any side effects, report this to your doctor immediately, as you may need a change in the dose, or need a different medication.
- In case you notice serious side effects, report these issues to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online
Psychotherapy can be an effective treatment for adults and children with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
Research shows that certain types of psychotherapy, including cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) and other related therapies (e.g., habit reversal training), can be as effective as medication for many individuals.
However, if you notice you have any un-explanable symptoms or behavior related to all above mentioned, test yourself for OCD in order to prevent further development, and have much better quality of life by getting treated on time.
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