Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, commonly referred to as OCD, is a psychological anxiety disorder which is characterized by uncontrollable compulsive repetitive behaviors and obsessive thoughts. Individuals suffering from OCD feel compelled to perform certain ritualized behavior as a result of the irrational, unwanted and uncontrollable obsessive thoughts that they have. Obsessions are uncontrollable and involuntary thoughts that reoccur severely in one’s brain whereas compulsions are rituals or behaviors that one feels driven to act out time and again. These obsessions and compulsions are often distracting as well as disturbing and usually interfere with an individual’s daily life.
Those who suffer from OCD usually fall into 5 categories namely:
- Checkers – Individuals who are known to be checkers suffer from thoughts of immediate danger from objects that they associate with harm. They will continuously check if these objects are secure in order to feel safe.
- Washers – These individuals are filled with a fear of contamination and are usually compelled to perform excessive cleaning or body washing.
- Counters and arrangers – Individuals who are classified as counters and arrangers are filled with obsessive thoughts regarding symmetry and order. They fear that if anything is out of order or is not symmetrical, they will suffer punishment, or a terrible thing will happen.
- Doubters and sinners – These individuals are obsessed with thoughts that if things are not done perfectly, something terrible will happen. As a result they are overly meticulous in every action that they take.
- Hoarders – The obsessive thoughts involved with hoarder are that a terrible thing will happen if they throw away or discard anything in their possession. As a result, they feel compelled to hoard items that they do not use or need.
Signs and symptoms of OCD
It is worth noting that just because one suffers from obsessive thoughts or performs any compulsive behavior, they have OCD. The main difference between having obsessive thoughts or compulsive behaviors and OCD is that the obsessions and compulsions associated with obsessive compulsive disorder take up a lot of one’s time and interfere with one’s relationships and daily life.
Obsessive thoughts that are OCD symptoms are:
- The fear of causing harm to others as well as oneself
- The fear of becoming contaminated or contaminating others with dirt or germs.
- Having intrusive sexually violent or explicit images and thoughts
- Excessive belief in superstitions; paying excessive attention to items that are thought of as unlucky or lucky by superstitions
- The fear of losing items as well as not having items that one thinks that they might need
- Extreme focus on moral ideals or religion ideas that demand that every item should be symmetrical and orderly.
- Everything should line up perfectly or else one will suffer feelings of intense stress
Compulsive behaviors that are considered to be OCD symptoms are:
- Tapping, counting, the repetition of certain words or performing other senseless activities in order to reduce anxiety. For example one may continuously tap their finger on an object 15 times and allow an interval of 3 minutes between a complete set of taps in order to reduce anxiety.
- Repeatedly checking in on loved one’s to ensure their safety. Repeatedly double-checking on items to ensure that they are secure. For example one may repeatedly check whether their doors are locked or their gas is turned off
- Repeatedly going through one’s or others belongings in order to make sure that they are symmetrically arranged and in order
- Excessive body washing and cleaning. It is worth noting that this can also cause physical symptoms such as dermatitis and skin lesions that are a result of the excessive body washing and scrubbing.
- Engaging in ritualistic activities associated with religion or superstition
- Excessive accumulation of items that one knows they do not need but cannot seem to get rid of
In conclusion, it is worth noting that most OCD symptoms begin at young adulthood or adolescence. The symptoms tend to begin gradually and slowly accelerate as one enters into adulthood. It is common that an individual who suffers from OCD will have severe symptoms during stressful times. The symptoms can be so severe that they become disabling, and result in one experiencing a low quality of life. Most adults can recognize the symptoms of OCD and know that their obsessions and compulsions bear no grounds. However, they are unable to stop themselves from performing certain activities.
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