Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is popularly referred to, as a disorder that comes in two parts; having recurring thoughts sometimes unwanted, sensations, and ideas- the obsessive part and the repetitive behaviors that these obsessions influence is the compulsive part. Almost everyone experiences unwanted and distressing thoughts or repetitive behaviors but it can only be classified as OCD when these behaviors interrupt one’s daily life.
Related media: What Is OCD?
Diagnostics, Symptoms, And Effects
A diagnosis of OCD requires the incidence of obsessions and/or compulsions that are time-wasting (take up more than an hour a day), disrupt school or work, cause significant distress and impede social functioning.
A very common OCD obsessive thought is the extreme fear of getting contaminated by germs and to save oneself from contamination develops the compulsive behavior of washing or sanitizing hands too frequently. Some people experience obsessive symptoms without compulsively acting out whiles others might experience compulsive behaviors alone or both. Some obsessions include;
- Fear of being contaminated by touching objects others have touched.
- Doubts that you’ve locked the door or turned off the stove.
- Intense stress when objects aren’t orderly or facing a certain way.
- Images of driving your car into a crowd of people.
- Thoughts about shouting obscenities or acting inappropriately in public.
- Unpleasant sexual images.
- Avoidance of situations that can trigger obsessions, such as shaking hands.
Obsessions in turn can cause distress and anxiety. Most people with OCD try to ease the distress and anxiety they experience with other thoughts or activities. Some compulsive activities, behaviors, or actions include;
- Hand-washing until your skin becomes raw.
- Checking doors repeatedly to make sure they’re locked.
- Checking the stove repeatedly to make sure it’s off.
- Counting in certain patterns.
- Silently repeating a prayer, word, or phrase.
- Arranging your canned goods to face the same way.
There is a huge difference between requiring perfect and flawless results, being a perfectionist, and having OCD. OCD is not worrying excessively about actual problems or having a strict order of arrangement. If any obsession or compulsion or both are affecting your daily order and quality of life, it’s best to seek treatment.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
A type of cognitive-behavioral therapy known as exposure and response prevention is one of the leading effective treatment methods for OCD. Here, an individual is exposed to situations that trigger their obsessions and stopped from acting out their compulsions to realize nothing terrible will happen to them if they do not react. This might not be a popular treatment recommendation because the individual will be literally forced to face their anxiety and this can be a harrowing and draining experience.
Medication And Surgical Therapy
When needed, health professionals can recommend medication to ease anxiety and stress. Also, neurosurgical treatments like deep brain stimulation and anterior capsulotomy can be used in cases of severe OCD.
Individuals experiencing OCD can make some changes to their lifestyle, say cultivate healthy eating habits. Exercising, meditation and yoga can also relieve the stress OCD induces. OCD often begins in childhood and is more prevalent in women than in men. It is not exactly an illness but a disorder that can be treated by health professionals. Instead of freaking out try speaking out!
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Written by: Phoebe Addo, Sun, Apr 24, 2022.