It is natural for everyone to have obsessive thoughts or compulsive behaviors at some stage of their lives. When the obsessions and compulsions become extreme, and people cannot control the unwanted obsessions and distressing compulsions, they need therapy to recover from the disorder.
The disorder is called obsessive-compulsive disorder, and it has a severe effect on a person’s life. The affected person unknowingly spends a lot of time with unwanted thoughts and repetitive behaviors. It is a mental health disorder that can affect people of all ages and hinder their day-to-day activities.
What Are Obsessions?
Obsessions are thoughts or images that repeatedly arise in the mind and can’t be controlled by the person. Most of the thoughts are disturbing, and they don’t make sense. Sometimes they are accompanied by feelings like fear, doubt, and disgust. The thoughts trigger extreme anxiety and get in the way of day-to-day functioning.
Contamination: Fear of getting contaminated by germs, body fluids, dirt, environmental contaminants, and household chemicals.
Lack of control of thoughts: Fear of acting on an impulse to harm oneself or others, fear of blurting out insults, and fear of stealing things.
Unwanted sexual thoughts: Experiencing forbidden perverse thoughts or images in mind and obsessions about aggressive sexual behavior towards others.
Fear: Fear of harming others by being careless and being responsible for some bad incident.
Perfectionism: Fear of losing or forgetting important things or information and not being able to decide whether to keep or throw things away.
What Are Compulsions?
Compulsions are repetitive behaviors a person does intend to neutralize the obsessions. People with OCD rely on compulsions to temporarily escape from the obsessions.
They want to avoid situations that trigger obsessions. Most people are driven to do these compulsive actions, which are torturous and time-consuming. Though compulsions may seem like a short-time relief to obsessions, they actually reinforce anxiety by making the habits seem real.
Washing and cleaning: Washing hands, showering and brushing frequently, and cleaning things excessively.
Checking: Checking that no mistakes or anything terrible happened and no harm has happened to self or others.
Mental compulsions: People count and perform a task repetitively for a certain number of times and review an event mentally to prevent terrible consequences.
Repeating: Repeating body movements, routine activities, and writing and reading the same thing over and over again. Arranging things frequently until it feels right.
Causes of OCD
Genetic and hereditary factors can cause OCD. The brain’s functional, structural, and chemical abnormalities cause this mental disorder. The factors responsible for this disorder are life events, personality traits, and hormonal changes.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is the most effective treatment for Obsessive-compulsive disorder. It aims to alter the thinking patterns, habits, and beliefs that trigger anxiety and obsessive-compulsive symptoms.
Anxiety management techniques can help a person to manage their OCD symptoms. Support groups and meditation can also help a person suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder.
The treatment for OCD begins after the doctor evaluates a person’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior patterns. Sometimes it is difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are similar to anxiety disorders, personality disorders, and depression.
The treatment may not cure a person, but it helps to bring the symptoms under control and allow the person to lead a normal life. Untreated OCD can lead to depression and severe anxiety.
Most patients get relief from therapy or medications like antidepressants. To manage OCD, people should eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep. Along with the treatment, family and friends must offer emotional support to help the person lead an anxiety-free life.