We all know that relative or friend who always finds something around the house that needs to be cleaned, mopped or vacuumed; be it the kitchen, bathroom, hall, room or car. The reason this person needs to constantly do something may stem from the fact that he or she may be suffering from a condition known as obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD in short.
Why do some people suffer from OCD?
OCD sufferers do try to ignore or stop their obsessive behavior, but many find this only increases their stress and they feel compelled to do repetitive actions to ease their stress, often ending up with the repetitive actions turning into rituals.
An OCD sufferer may see germs everywhere – on counter tops, on the tv, on the floor, etc. To ease up on fears of contamination and getting sick, an OCD sufferer must keep washing his or her hands and objects around them, to the extend of the hands becoming very dry and sore.
Another OCD sufferer may think the stove has been left turned on (obsession), and constantly goes back (compulsion) to check and make sure it is turned off. Another sufferer may have to arrange and rearrange food items in a certain order.
Obsessions and compulsions become combined in OCD behavior, leading to a desire to do the same actions repeatedly.
Significant anxiety also plays a part in OCD, as sufferers may feel stressed when they are in situations which they cannot control.
OCD obsessions are persistent and unwanted thoughts or urges which repeatedly intrude into a sufferer’s mind, causing the person to become anxious or distressed. To get ignore or rid of such thoughts, the OCD sufferer performs a compulsive (or repetitive) behavior. These obsessions have been found to interrupt you when you are trying to sort out other things in your mind.
Obsessions are normally linked to certain themes like:
- Fear of dirt or contamination. Many OCD sufferers dislike shaking hands, touching or sharing objects that others have touched.
- Self-doubting thoughts. Constantly focusing on “I can’t do this”. “Have I left the stove on or off”, or “did I lock or unlock the door?”
- Aggressive, sexual or religious thoughts. Repetitive thoughts of sexual images flashing through the mind, causing self-harm or harming others.
- Thoughts about losing control, impending accidents, self-harm, harming others.
These are repetitive actions that must be done by OCD sufferers to reduce anxiety, or as a preventive measure. However, these actions only bring about temporary relief; not permanent relief, and hence have to be done repetitively.
Similar to obsessions, compulsions are typically connected to themes such as:
- Checking / counting. Constantly checking doors to ensure they are locked.
- Washing / cleaning. Washing hands until the skin turns dry or raw.
- Items placed in a certain order or direction.
- Strict routines. Silently repeating a mantra, prayer or verse.
- Constant reassurance. Constantly asking “if I am doing it right?”.
When does OCD happen?
OCD can start as early as in childhood, in teenagers or young adults. It is difficult to diagnose as symptoms gradually appear and the severity tends to vary over time. However, doctors have noticed symptoms do get worse when stress levels increase.
Why does OCD happen?
Medical science has found a few factors that may trigger OCD, some of which are:
- Family history, e.g., a family member with OCD can increase your risk of developing it.
- Stressful life events, e.g., death, illness, divorce, job loss, job change.
- Other mental health disorders, e.g., depression, anxiety, or substance abuse may be related to OCD.
When does OCD get complicated?
It may be time to seek medical advice and treatment when OCD sufferers display the following complications:
- Health issues, e.g., dermatitis from frequent hand washing.
- Difficulty socializing at work, home or at social activities, or disengaging from society.
- Hours spent in ritualistic behaviors.
- Self-harm or suicidal thoughts and behaviors.
Can OCD be prevented?
There is no prevention for OCD, but seeking early diagnosis and starting treatment as early as possible may help prevent a sufferer’s OCD from worsening.
Treatments for OCD
There are many treatments for OCD, ranging from medication, DBS (deep brain stimulation), TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation), etc., and a doctor will be the correct person to advise which treatment is suitable for the individual.
Home treatments with the go-ahead from doctors, would involve:
- Sticking to a routine of your regular activities.
- Staying focused on your recovery goals.
- Joining a support group.
- Finding healthy hobbies and recreational activities.
- Sleeping well.
- Take up relaxation and stress management techniques.
We hope our readers find this information on OCD useful. Please note that all information given in this article should not be taken as medical advice. Readers are advised to consult a qualified medical practitioner for correct information and treatment of OCD, especially if they are on medication for current medical issues.
6th August 19:50 2020