What Is OCD? What Are Obsessions And Compulsions?
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a mental illness that can affect people of any age or background. When a person can’t break out of a pattern of obsessions and compulsions, they are said to have OCD. Obsessions are unwanted, overwhelming thoughts, images, or urges that can make a person feel very upset. Compulsions are actions that people do to try to get rid of their obsessions or to make themselves feel better.
Most people have obsessive thoughts or do things over and over again without thinking about it. However, this does not mean that everyone has OCD. OCD causes are actually a cycle of obsessions and compulsions that are so bad, they take up a lot of time (more than an hour a day), cause a lot of stress, or get in the way of things that are important to the person. In other words, OCD symptoms must be so extreme that they meet all three of these conditions.
OCD Causes – Factors Creating OCD Symptoms
There is no single explanation for OCD causes, although the following factors have been linked to research suggesting they may have a role:
One of the main OCD causes is said to be brought on by personal experience. Examples include
- If you had a hard childhood or went through trauma, abuse, or bullying, you may develop obsessions and compulsions as a way to deal with anxiety.
- You may have learned OCD behaviours as a way to deal with your fears if your parents had similar compulsions.
- This disorder can be caused by or made worse by long-term anxiety or stress, as well as stressful events like having a car accident or starting a new job.
- Perinatal OCD is occasionally brought on by pregnancy or giving birth.
According to the findings of a number of studies, people who have certain personality traits may have more chances of suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder. For instance, if you are a person who is very detailed, methodical, and has high standards, you may have a greater risk of developing OCD.
OCD has also been linked to biological factors, which are thought to be caused by a lack of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain. But it’s not clear if this is a cause or an effect of the mental illness that has been diagnosed.
Studies have also looked at what role genes might play in the development of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), as well as what role different parts of the brain might play. However, these investigations haven’t led to any clear answers.
What Are The Common OCD Symptoms
Obsessions And Its Signs
Obsessions are recurring thoughts, images, impulses, or doubts. They can be scary, graphic, and distressing. They may cause anxiety, revulsion, or discomfort. Understand the following most common OCD symptoms to relate with.
- Fearing that you’ve already caused harm to others because of your carelessness. If, while driving, you accidentally knocked someone down, for instance.
- The fear that you will lose control and hurt someone is what causes this anxiety. They may fear that you may stab someone or push them in front of a train.
- Self-destructive, abusive, and/or violent fantasies and thoughts that plague your mind. It’s natural to feel scared if these thoughts have crossed your mind.
- People often have intrusive thoughts about their relationships, such as doubts about whether the relationship is right or whether either person’s feelings are real. To get rid of the uncertainty and fear, you may decide to quit the connection.
- Sexual images or ideas that are not wanted. These could be things like being sexually aggressive or hurting children or family members. You might not like the idea that you might have sexual feelings for a family member or that you might be a child molester or a rapist.
- Contamination (by, for example, dirt, germs, or poop) (for example by dirt, germs or faeces). You might worry that you or someone close to you has caught the disease and is now spreading it. You might be worried that you are sick or that you will get sick soon.
- Psychological pollution. If someone has wronged you in any manner, they may be the cause of your feelings of filth. Personal reflection, imagery, or recollections may also serve as triggers for such emotions.
- If things aren’t quite so, you can be afraid that something terrible will happen. To give one example, if things are not neat, tidy, or symmetrical.
Compulsions And Their Signs
Compulsions are things you feel like you have to do over and over again. The goal of a compulsion is to ease the pain caused by obsessive thoughts. You might have to do the compulsion over and over again until the worry goes away. You may know that giving in to a compulsion makes no sense, but it can seem risky not to. Compulsions take a lot of time and give only short-term relief.
- Washing hands often, taking showers frequently and sanitising everything around you.
- Touching things in a particular way or at a particular time
- Placing things together in a specific order
- checking the lock of doors and windows again and again
- checking whether there is any dirt on your body or clothes
- checking how your body reacts to unwanted thoughts
- checking if you actually thought about something undesirable or offensive
- checking if your route to work was safe enough
Getting Your Thoughts Right
- Uttering a word, name, or phrase over and over again, either in your head or loudly.
- Counting up to a particular number
- Changing your focus to something else to get rid of intrusive thoughts.
Pure OCD Symptoms
Pure O means ‘purely obsessed’. People use this phrase to talk about a type of OCD where there are no outside compulsions(for example checking or washing). The name itself suggests that there are no compulsions.
Pure O patients may not be aware of mental compulsions.And because they aren’t as obvious as physical compulsions, it can be hard to describe them.
- Checking your feelings towards your partner (e.g., if you still love them).
- Checking bodily sensations towards an intrusive thought.
- Checking whether a particular thought still upsets you.
- Thinking about certain phrases or numbers over and over.
- Checking if you still have the same thought the next morning.
Avoiding People, Things, Places & Situations
Some things, activities, or situations can make your obsessions or compulsions worse. This might be true. For example, if you are afraid of accidentally stabbing someone and you know that the kitchen has knives, you might not go in there.
If you can avoid being in a situation where you have to do something against your will, you should do so whenever you can. For example, if you have to do a long, time-consuming ritual every time you leave the house, you might decide that it’s easier to just stay inside than to go outside. On the other hand, avoiding things could change your life in a big way.
OCD Symptoms In Adults
About 1 adult out of every 100 suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). While each person’s symptoms are different, there are certain universal patterns.
At home, the most common symptoms are –
- pulling away from family and friends because they are obsessed with germs
- avoiding physical intimacy with a partner because they are afraid of germs, religious impurity, or violent thoughts that keep coming into their head.
- Even small changes to your daily routine make you feel like you can’t handle them.
- Not being able to give away or throw away things you don’t need
- Counting in your head as you do things, often in sets that you do over and over.
The most common symptoms at the workplace are –
- Checking work over and over again, which often delays more important tasks
- Needing to set up your desk or workspace just right
- Focusing on an obsession can cause sudden bouts of anxiety.
- Having times during the day when you feel like you need to “regroup”
- Avoiding handshakes, work social events, and important meetings for fear of getting germs.
- Having to plan each work day way ahead of time
- Worrying that coworkers will find out about your symptoms
- Keeping old memos, used Post-It notes, or empty pens on your desk for no particular reason
OCD Symptoms In Children
- A strong fear of getting sick or spreading germs (like avoiding contact with other kids)
- Worry about family members dying or leaving
- A strong need for order or symmetry—they are always changing places of their toys and things.
- A constant need to do their work again and again until they feel it’s perfect.
- They have trouble getting out of the house on time because they keep double-checking everything like doors or gas stoves.
- People spend hours washing their hands, taking showers, and brushing their teeth.
- Asking the same question over and over, till the answer makes them feel better.
- Rituals that get more complicated over time. For example, their bedtime routine which, if interrupted, they usually have to start over.
- An obsession with religious rituals
- A strong need to count and list things over and over
OCD Treatment & Medication
OCD treatment varies in efficacy and side effects. Talking with your doctor is the best way to figure out which course of treatment is preferable for your symptoms and needs.
Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (Deep TMS) uses magnetic fields to reach parts of the brain that are linked to mental health problems.
Deep TMS has been FDA-approved to treat OCD behaviour since 2018, due to its efficacy.It safely relieves OCD symptoms, even in people who didn’t get better with therapy or medicine. It doesn’t hurt, it doesn’t need anaesthesia, and it doesn’t have any serious or long-lasting side effects.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
One of the most common ways to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder is through talk therapy, specifically cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). CBT focuses on intrusive thoughts, feelings, behaviours, and bodily reactions. It is done under the supervision of a skilled mental health professional. This is done to help the patient understand the many different parts of the illness and, eventually, to help ease the symptoms.
Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) has given rise to a number of branches that help patients deal with their symptoms in different ways. Acceptance and commitment therapy is the most well-known of these treatments (ACT). Since the therapist works with the patient to develop and carry out a commitment to the patient’s own wellbeing, ACT encourages openness and flexibility when responding to OCD symptoms.
ERP Or Exposure And Response Prevention Therapy
Exposure and response prevention (ERP) has been shown to be an effective OCD treatment by more research. Exposure response prevention (ERP) therapy helps a person with this mental illness get rid of it by exposing them gradually to things that make them anxious because of it. The patient is told not to react to the stimuli in a compulsive way, and over the course of treatment, they learn how to deal with the behaviour that makes them feel anxious.
Medication is another type of therapy that is often thought of as the first line of OCD treatment. The FDA has approved a number of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like Prozac and Zoloft and one tricyclic antidepressant (TCA) to treat the disease. Most of the time, doctors give SSRIs to people as OCD medication.
Even though most people with Obsessive-compulsive disorder say that psychopharmacology has helped them, a lot of them stop using it as a treatment because of the terrible side effects.
Psychodynamics can help OCD patients. This treatment looks at how the patient’s sense of self, worldview, and personal story are affected by important relationships and experiences. Then, these factors are looked at in relation to their OCD symptoms to find out why they act the way they do when they are anxious. Over time, the patient should be able to replace automatic responses to anxiety with ones that are more flexible and calm.
Self Care Therapy As OCD Treatment
Self care is an important OCD treatment. Your obsessions and compulsions can take over your life to the point where you feel like you don’t have any control. But there are some things you can try to help control your obsessive-compulsive disorder and improve your health.
Developing A Support System
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is difficult to discuss. You may fear people won’t understand. You may have kept this illness a secret for so long that it’s scary to talk about it. Strengthening your relationships may make you less lonely and more resilient.
- Share your thoughts with a trusted friend. Find a place to converse without interruptions. People sometimes find it helpful to write out their feelings and then talk about them.
- Spend time with relatives. You may not be ready to discuss your illness yet. If you spend more time with friends and family, you might feel more at ease and be able to talk about it.
Look For Peer Support
Connecting with people who have had similar or shared experiences can be of great help.You might want to talk to other people with Obsessive-compulsive disorder so you can share your intrusive thoughts, experiences, and self-care tips. For example, you could:
- Join an online peer community having members with similar problems.
- Look for a local support group to join or
- Visit sites specifically dealing with this kind of support
- Stress management is important in OCD treatment. That’s because this illness might worsen as a result of stress and anxiety.
- Make an effort to relax. In times of stress, anxiety, or busyness, relaxation can help you take care of your wellbeing.
- Practice mindfulness. You can feel less tension and stress by practising mindfulness. As a part of overcoming this mental illness, it may be beneficial for certain people.
- Rest. Sleep helps you cope with challenging thoughts and events.
- Eat well. Regular eating and stable blood sugar might improve mood and energy.
- Exercise. Yoga, swimming, and walking are great mood boosters. Any physical activity counts, from chair-based exercise to dancing in the kitchen.
After reading this post, you know that OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) can be very bad and hard to deal with. You also know how misunderstood this mental illness is and how hard it can be to talk about it with family and friends. But it’s also true that you can get better with CBT frameworks like ACT and ERP, which are thought to be the best methods of OCD treatment.
Scary though OCD symptoms seem to be, there is always light at the end of the tunnel for those who don’t lose hope. Understand the OCD causes, accept that you have a mental illness, build a support network, talk about it, and get the right therapy, medications, and self-care routine.