Ever come across someone who is really particular about the way certain things are placed or arranged? Yeah, there are plenty of such people you would come across. “Why are there so many socks lying down there? Why isn’t it in its place? It is very likely such people suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder aka OCD.
This article is all about OCD – identifying it, common symptoms, causes, treatments and types.
What is OCD?
OCD or obsessive compulsive disorder is an anxiety disorder which is seen in people, they have unwanted thoughts, ideas or obsessions that that drive them to do something repeatedly. These repetitive behaviors such as washings the hands, checking on things, cleanliness can be a reason that the person suffers from this disorder.
A 2001 world health organisation mental health report had estimated that OCD was the top causes of illness seen especially between the ages 15-44.
Symptoms of OCD
Obsessions are exaggerated version of concern and worries that people might have in some point of life. Symptoms might include
- Fear of contamination through germs, dirt and other environmental substances
- Fear of accidents or illness.
- Repeated thoughts about issues in the past.
- Excessive hand washing, showering.
- Excessive cleanliness.
People who have obsessive compulsive disorder are often embarrassed of their symptoms and they put in extra effort to hide them. If this disorder becomes severe, then “avoiding” may increase the actual problem. OCD can disrupt people’s daily activities such as eating, drinking etc. Some people might even become housebound.
Causes of OCD
The causes of this disorder aren’t fully understood but there are several theories about that circulates around it that include –
- It can be due to genetic and hereditary factors.
- Compulsions become learned behaviors, that then become receptive and habitual.
- Chemical, structural and functionalists abnormalities in the brain can become a contributing factor.
Cure for OCD
Its treatment includes –
- Psychological treatment called cognitive behavioral therapy
- Anxiety management technique
Cognitive behaviour therapy can improve symptoms and this improvement is maintained for a long term.
#1 Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy changes the thinking, belief patterns that triggers anxiety and other obsessive compulsive symptoms. This therapy uses education to promote control over symptoms. Education will help you to become exposed to the myths that surrounds this disorder.
The therapy includes gradually involving the person and exposing to the situation that triggers their obsessions and at the same time will help reduce their compulsion. The therapy begins with less feared situations.
Cognitive behavioural therapy should be only undertaken with a skilled, and a professional therapist.
#2 Anxiety Management Techniques for OCD
This management technique can help a person to manage their own symptoms. Such techniques can include relaxation training, slow breathing techniques, and meditation. These techniques require regular practice and are most effective if used with cognitive behavioral treatment.
Medicines include antidepressants that affect the serotonin system, which has been found helpful to reduce the symptoms of OCD. This medicine can only be prescribed by a medical practitioner.
Side effects of these antidepressants include nausea, headache, dizziness, and tiredness. These effects however decline after the first few weeks of treatment. If side effects last for a long time then consult with your doctor.
Extra Tips for OCD
#1 Refocus your attention (can do some exercise, or play a computer game). You can even deny an urge to perform a compulsive behavior.
#2 Write down your obsessive thoughts or worries. This can help you identify how receptive your obsessions are.
#3 Anticipating also helps. For example, if you compulsively check whether or not the door is locked , try and lock the door with extra attention in the first time itself. When the urge resurfaces again, to check the door you can just avoid by saying its an “obsessive” thought.
#4 Take care of yourself. Stress isn’t a cause of OCD, but it can make obsessive and compulsive behaviors worse. Try to practice relaxation techniques such as meditation, at least 30 minutes daily.
Types of OCD
- Contamination and washing
- Doubts about accidental harm and checking
- Arranging, counting and adjusting stuff
- Unacceptable taboo thoughts and mental rituals
What Is It Like to Have OCD?
Living with OCD is like mentally living inside a person where you are prison guard and no one can open the cage bars except for you.
Obsessions not only involves arrangement and cleanliness of things. It can also be the tiniest aspect of ones life. For example:
- If they crack their knuckles accidentally they will go around and pop every knuckle until it becomes even.
- They won’t only wash hands to get rid of the germs, but also the soap as the germs are now on it.
Also obsessions are not just limited to things around but also affects their relationship with people in general.
Also overthinking comes complementary to OCD in which feelings can be basically feed off on our ability to think or analyse a situation over and over again, like “regret” and “guilt” can make you go insane.
So if you feel you are suffering from OCD then please don’t take it casually and visit a therapist. Because OCD is not just a small random disorder. It can grow with time and you will be struggling with your thoughts all the time.
Mention a friend in the comments section below, who you feel should most definitely ca benefit from this article.