Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a common form of mental illness in which a person is caught in the cycle of uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions).
People who suffer from OCD often feel like they are powerless and have no control over their thoughts and behaviors.
This can greatly affect their job, school, relationships and thus hinder them from living a normal life.
Obsessions are repeated thoughts, images or impulses that are usually accompanied by feelings of anxiety.
These thoughts basically do not serve them any purpose because it does not make any sense. If anything, it gets in the way of more important activities.
An example of obsessive thought is to think that you are gonna get beaten up if you don’t wear a certain type of shoes.
Compulsions of the other hand, are repetitive behaviors that a person with OCD feels the need to do with the intention of neutralizing, counteracting or make the obsessions go away.
It is also to avoid situations that trigger obsessions.
A common example would be, checking to see if the door is locked 7 times every morning before going to work.
Although most people with OCD don’t enjoy being in that kind of situation, they can’t seem to quit.
Someone with OCD may have symptoms of either obsessions or compulsions, but one can also have both.
Obsessive thoughts can include:
Fear of germs or contamination
Aggressive thoughts towards oneself or others
The need for things to be arranged in symmetrical and exact order
Categorizing certain numbers or colors to be “good” or “bad”
Believing in forbidden or taboo thoughts involving religion, sex or money
Constant suspicion that a partner is unfaithful
Compulsive habits may include:
Repetitive checking on a locked door, light switch, and other things
Washing hands or showering many times in a day
Counting things like steps or cars
Doing tasks in a specific order every time
Fear of touching doorknobs or using other toilets except for his/her own
Arranging items in a particular, precise way.
OCD equally affects men, women, and children of all races, ethnicities, and backgrounds.
Doctors aren’t sure why some people have OCD, but certain factors may increase the risk of someone having OCD. These factors include:
Genetics. First-degree relatives (eg. a parent, sibling or a child) that have OCD.
Environment. People who have experience with physical/sexual abuse.
Emotional state. Suffering from depression or anxiety.
Brain structure. Differences in the frontal cortex and subcortical structures of the brain in patients with OCD.
There’s no cure for OCD. But with proper interventions, you may be able to lessen the symptoms and reduce the effect it has towards your daily life.
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International OCD Foundation. (2019). International OCD Foundation | What is OCD?. [online] Available at: https://iocdf.org/about-ocd/.
Nimh.nih.gov. (2016). NIMH » Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. [online] Available at: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd/index.shtml.
Pathak, N. (2018). Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). [online] WebMD. Available at: https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/obsessive-compulsive-disorder#2.
International OCD Foundation (2018). First Line of Treatment for OCD by Jonathan S Abramowitz PhD ABPP. [video] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=43&v=AQNsjMtMFO4.
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