Here's everything you should know about obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
Let's understand this mental illness we have all heard of. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health condition that involves repeated thoughts, actions, and urges that are unwanted. A person with OCD tends to indulge in their obsessions over and over again, affecting their personal, social, and professional spheres. From its meaning to treatments, here is everything you should know about this disorder.
Here's what our expert says
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a thought disorder where the patient suffers from repetitive behaviors arising from repetitive thoughts or urges to repeat certain actions.
- The patient is unable to stop following these thoughts and urges and any attempt to stop them will result in anxiety and stress.
- Severe OCD will affect a person's social and emotional well-being and must be treated by a specialist.
OCD isn't about thinking negatively or biting nails
While many may associate negative thinking and their habit of biting nails with OCD, that's not what this disorder is about. A compulsive behavior could be washing your hands several times after touching something dirty. The "compulsive" trigger in this condition has people spending hours doing it beyond their control. People with OCD have thoughts/actions that are not enjoyable and affect their life.
People with OCD fear dirt, keep a check on sensations
People suffering from OCD have symptoms that usually include both obsessions and compulsions. They get repeated, unwanted thoughts and urges that are intrusive and may cause anxiety or depression later. Fear of uncertainty, dirt or contamination, and things not being in order causes them stress. Some may keep a check on blinking, breathing, and other body sensations as well.
Let's take a look at some common obsessions and compulsions
Obsessional thoughts may include disturbing sexual thoughts or images, fear of loss, fear of contamination, extreme worry when something is not complete, extreme concern with order, fear of being harmed, etc. Compulsions may include repeatedly checking clocks, switches, appliances, and doors, arranging things in a particular manner, repeatedly cleaning oneself or other items, excessive hand-washing, showering, or brushing teeth, and constant validation/reassurance seeking.
Some common examples of an OCD behavior
People with OCD may silently repeat a prayer, word, or phrase. They may also indulge in a meaningless repetition of their own words. They demand orderliness with everything in life and follow a strict routine, the lack of which causes them aggression or stress. Some may also keep washing their hands or body until their skin becomes raw and harsh.
CBT and medications can help overcome OCD
One of the most effective treatments to curb OCD is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) in which the patient is exposed to feared situations or images. Besides that, there are some medicines available that can treat mild to moderate symptoms in most patients. The medication shows results in six to 12 weeks usually. In rare and worse cases, neurosurgical treatments are the only way out.