Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (known as OCD) is an anxiety disorder that can be characterised by an uncontrollable, repetitive, ritualised behaviours that an individual feels compelled to perform. When someone has OCD, their brain can get stuck on a particular thought or urge, similar to a needle getting stuck on an old record. For example, they may open and close a door eight times before locking it. While someone with OCD may know that their obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours are irrational, they may feel that they are unable to resist the urge to break free.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder includes symptoms of both obsession and compulsion. However, some people may only experience symptoms of obsession or symptoms of compulsion. Many people with OCD may not think that their obsessions and compulsions are excessive, but it can take up a significant amount of time and interfere with daily activities.

Signs and symptoms of obsession includes:

  • 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 hurting yourself or someone else that are unwanted and make you uncomfortable
  • Thoughts about shouting obscenities or acting inappropriately that are unwanted and make you uncomfortable
  • Avoidance of situations that can trigger obsessions, such as shaking hands
  • Distress about unpleasant sexual images repeating in your mind

Signs and symptoms of compulsion may 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

Obsessive compulsive disorder begins in the teen or young adult years. Symptoms occur gradually, and generally worsens when experiencing stress. These symptoms can be mild to moderate, or be so severe that it becomes disabling. OCD is considered a lifelong disorder, however, with professional help, it can be diminished or cured.