Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD):
This article aims to demystify some of the myths surrounding OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) disorder, help you identify signs of OCD, understand the causes of OCD and how to get help.
Overview of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder:
What Is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?
Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder. People living with OCD are troubled by persistent, unwanted thoughts, ideas, images or sensations (obsessive thoughts) that drive them to act on impulses with repetitive rituals (compulsions). These rituals are designed to help them feel more in control. For many, these routines and behaviors are rigid and cause great distress if they are not acted on immediately.
Obsessive compulsive disorder is often misunderstood. In fact, there is no typical OCD behavior and OCD symptoms vary widely from person to person. This condition can be highly distressing for both the person affected and their family and friends. OCD may co-occur with other mental illnesses such as depression, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder or schizophrenia.
What Are Obsessive Thoughts?
Obsessive thoughts are recurring thoughts and images that can cause acute distress, anxiety or disgust. These thoughts are embedded in a complex network of emotions, sensations, behavioural routines and compulsions that are impossible to resist.
While most people with OCD attempt to ignore or suppress obsessions, these intrusive thoughts cannot be alleviated with logic or reasoning.
Some people with OCD may be convinced that their obsessions are absolutely correct, while others suspect their obsessions are excessive or irrational. These obsessive thoughts can be exhausting, take up significant time, and impair an individual’s quality of life, relationships, education and employment.
What Are Obsessive Compulsions?
Obsessive compulsions are repetitive actions or mental acts performed to prevent an imagined threat. Often, compulsions become ritualised and follow specific rules and patterns to create illusory short-term relief against anxiety.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Symptoms:
An OCD sufferer cannot control their repetitive thoughts and behaviour. Examples of obsessive thoughts include:
- Germophobia, or a pathological fear of contamination from germs, bacteria, poisons, infection, dirt or uncleanliness
- Traumatophobia, or fear of harm from illness, accidents or death that may occur to oneself or others
- Perfectionism, or a need for symmetry, orderliness, exactness or routine
- Intrusive sexual or violent thoughts: An intense, irrational fear of everyday objects and situations
- Excessive concerns about religious issues or morality, with an obsessive need to participate in prayer to the detriment of work or relationships
Signs of OCD compulsions include:
- Cleanliness – Obsessive cleanliness rituals designed to reduce an exaggerated fear of contamination
- Order – Obsession with order or symmetry, with an overwhelming need to perform tasks or place objects in a rigid place or pattern
- Counting – Repeatedly counting items or objects
- Hoarding – Excessive acquisition of and unwillingness to discard large quantities of objects that cause significant distress or impairment
- Repetition to create ‘safety’ – Continually checking, touching, tapping or moving in a particular way, or mentally repeating words, numbers or phrases a certain number of times
- Validation – Needing to constantly ask questions or confess to seek reassurance
The Link Between OCD And Anxiety:
OCD and anxiety are closely intertwined. Many OCD sufferers experience panic attacks or panic attack symptoms, such as sweaty palms, rapid heartbeat, racing thoughts, dizziness, weakness in the limbs, or the sensation of having an out-of-body experience.
Why Do Obsessive Thoughts Happen?
While the causes of OCD are not fully known, it likely arises from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. These include:
- Learned behaviours from direct conditioning – OCD compulsions may develop when an individual mentally and emotionally associates a learned behaviour with anxiety relief
- Genetic and hereditary factors – Individuals may have an increased tendency toward OCD due to genetic or hereditary factors
- Chemical and neurological factors – OCD may arise from chemical, structural and functional abnormalities in the brain, such as irregular levels of serotonin and neurological factors
- Mental health – OCD often co-occurs with mental health issues associated with distorted thought patterns, such as depression, eating disorders or substance use
- Stress – OCD behaviours can be exacerbated by stressful life events or hormonal changes
What causes OCD intrusive thoughts?
Stressful life events. If you’ve experienced traumatic or stressful events, your risk may increase. This reaction may, for some reason, trigger the intrusive thoughts, rituals and emotional distress characteristic of OCD.
|F42.0||Predominantly obsessional thoughts or ruminations|
|F42.1||Predominantly compulsive acts [obsessional rituals]|
|F42.2||Mixed obsessional thoughts and acts|
|F42.8||Other obsessive-compulsive disorders|
|F42.9||Obsessive-compulsive disorder, unspecified|
So I hope that I have demystified some of your myths surrounding OCD disorder, and helped you identify signs of OCD, understand the causes of OCD and how to get help to cure OCD.
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