Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder in which the person has unwanted and recurring thoughts (obsessions), which causes the need to repeat certain actions (compulsions). Repetitive behaviours, such as hand washing, checking things, or cleaning, can significantly interfere with a person’s daily activities as well as social interactions.
Obsessions are involuntary, can turn into thoughts, uncontrollable images that repeat themselves endlessly, mentally. Obsessions are disturbing and distract from daily activities.
Compulsions are behaviours or rituals that patients feel the need to adopt repeatedly in an attempt to remove obsessions. These behaviours, meant to relieve the patient of obsessive thoughts, do not eliminate them but strengthen them, triggering anxiety.
In the case of a mild obsessive-compulsive disorder, the situation can sometimes improve even without treatment. Intervention for the severe stage of the disorder involves medication. Proper treatment can significantly improve and even cure OCD. Do not hesitate to seek the help of a specialist, if you recognize this disorder in yourself or someone close.
- Fear of touching dirt, germs or chemicals (example: household cleaning products), fear of coming in contact with “dirty” or “contaminated” objects.
- Accidental injury. Fear of self-harm or injury to others through negligence.
- Symmetry and accuracy. A need to order objects in a certain way (depending on colour, size, etc.). Often, the purpose of obsessions seems very strange or meaningless. For example, a child with obsessive-compulsive disorder might say that he/she should arrange all his teddy bears from the youngest to the oldest. Underlying this obsession, it could stand a superstition if the teddy bears are not arranged in ascending order, the parents are in danger. As unreal as it may sound, such thoughts often go through the mind of a child with OCD.
- Some children and teenagers feel a strong need for things to be perfect or right. Your child may not be able to start homework until his or her books are all perfectly arranged.
- Washing or cleaning. It may happen that a person cannot stop washing their hands, even though their skin is cracked and bleeding.
- Excessive check. These types of constraints may involve checking the doors, locks or backpack for the safety of personal belongings and oneself. Some children and teenagers feel an excessive need to make sure that everyone around them is safe.
- Counting or touching objects. Obsessions can involve counting or touching objects in a certain way. Some children and adolescents have “lucky” numbers involved in their rituals. An example would be the need to touch a door x times before leaving a room or to take two steps to the right and two to the left at the bathroom entrance.
- Mental rituals. Not all children and adolescents with obsessive-compulsive disorder have visible constraints. Some have mental rituals, such as prayers or trying to replace a “bad” image or thought with a “good” image or thought.
It should be noted that not every ritual or form of repetitive behaviour is a compulsion. Normal repetitive behaviours that occur in everyday life may include bedtime routines, religious practices, or learning new skills.
What are the OCD symptoms?
Obsessions causing compulsive behavior cause stress, are time-consuming and interfere with a person’s daily life. Symptoms can also occur in children and adolescents and worsen with age. These can range from mild to severe. Some people experience only obsessive thoughts without engaging in compulsive behaviours, while others develop both.
Obsessions are much more than the daily worries that most people face when thinking about real-life problems. People with OCD experience excessive fears and worries, which cause them to take certain actions or have certain thoughts in an attempt to alleviate or eliminate fear and anxiety. Some people with OCD manage to hide compulsive behaviours so that they are less obvious in social situations. For others, however, it is social situations that trigger compulsions.
If you have identified these symptoms and situations in your daily life, Guide to Rehab is here for you. We’ll help you find the appropriate therapists and centres in the UK that can help you overcome the disorder you are suffering from.
How to recognize an OCD person
People with obsessive-compulsive disorder recognize, to some extent, that their obsessions are not dangerous and that those actions they take to reduce their anxiety are exaggerated and unrealistic. This persistence of awareness, although sometimes not very pronounced, differentiates obsessive-compulsive disorder from psychotic disorders where contact with reality is lost. Because people with this condition are afraid of stigmatization and embarrassment, they often hide their obsessions and rituals that take up many hours each day which can cause relationships and school or professional performance to be affected. Depression is often a secondary feature of this disorder.
The most common signs by which you can recognize the obsessive-compulsive disorder in a person are:
- dehydrated hand skin from excessive washing;
- fear of shaking hands or touching things in public, so as not to be contaminated with bacteria;
- intense anxiety when things are not orderly or symmetrical;
- arranging, “lining up” things that are untidy or asymmetrical (example: Discreet straightening of a crooked picture, a discreet arrangement of a tassel on a curtain);
- inability to break a routine;
- counting for no reason or repeating a word, an expression or performing the same action a certain number of times.
Treatments and therapies for the obsessive-compulsive disorder
This disorder is diagnosed after identifying the presence of obsessions and/or compulsions, if they are time-consuming, cause major stress or adversely interfere with a person’s daily life. The specialist will make sure that the symptoms are not caused by the consumption of an illicit substance, or by the effects of other medical conditions. Diagnosis with OCD frequently leads to a diagnosis of depression and anxiety (specific comorbidities). If treated well, obsessive-compulsive disorder can be cured. Untreated this disorder can become chronic.
Repetitive behaviours are common in anyone’s life, but they do not disrupt the smooth running of the day because their purpose is to organize daily activities. For people with obsessive-compulsive disorder, failure to perform routines triggers strong feelings of stress and anxiety, so don’t go through the process of recovery alone. Get in touch with someone who can help in the UK. On Guide to Rehab the specialists can provide recovery treatment. Learn about your options.