The first time I heard of OCD was from the hit series “glee”. There was a lady in it who was so afraid of dirt. She will just clean and clean even if whatever it is, is clean be it fruits or working space etc. It turned out she had something called OCD.
The first time I heard of OCD was from the hit series “glee”. There was a lady in it who was so afraid of dirt. She will just clean and clean even if whatever it is, is clean be it fruits or working space etc. It turned out she had something called OCD. I thought it was another name for people who are excessively neat or something until I decided to delve deeper into it.
To my amazement, I found out that OCD was actually a disorder and it does not just have to do with being excessively neat. OCD is an abbreviation for the term “Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder” which is a mental disorder that causes people to have repeated and uncontrollable feelings, unwanted or intrusive thoughts, ideas or urges to do something over and over again.
Some of these obsessions or repeated thoughts, ideas or urges which eventually cause anxiety in the victims include Fear of germs or contamination as was in the case of Emma in Glee, unwanted forbidden or taboo thoughts involving sex, religion, or harm, aggressive thoughts towards self and even others, the excessive desire to have things in perfect order, worries about yourself or other people getting hurt, constant awareness of blinking, breathing and other body sensations, the suspicion that a partner is unfaithful with no reason to believe so, among many others. What is disheartening is that a lot of OCD victims may not want to think or do these things but they feel powerless to stop.
As we have looked at some of the obsessions, let us look at some of the compulsions or things the victims have the urge to do over and over again in response to those obsessions; Excessive cleaning and handwashing, ordering and arranging things in a particular order or a precise manner, repeatedly checking on things such as checking to see if your door is locked over and over again or that the gas stove is off, counting something over and over again, fear of blurting out obscenities or insults, excessive fear of losing something valuable etc.
A lot of people do have so many habits or even rituals and we all do double-check things sometimes but in the case of people with OCD, they lack control over these behaviours even when it is clear and obvious that they are doing them unnecessarily excessively, they can go as far as spending an hour or even a day on these thoughts or actions, they are not happy engaging in these habits but give in to the pleasure they get from being temporarily relieved of the anxiety and distress those obsessive thoughts cause, they experience problems in their daily lives and even relationships due to these thoughts or behaviours.
It is very clear so far that OCD comes in various forms and it does not have to do with only the fear of being contaminated. However, in most cases, it usually falls within at least one of the categories below:
1. Constant checks on locks, alarm systems, ovens, light switches, or even thinking you have a chronic medical condition as well as pregnancy and schizophrenia.
2. Contamination or the fear of things that might be dirty like doorknobs, using public toilets, shaking hands or mental contamination which involves feeling like you have been treated like dirt
3. Symmetry and ordering or the desire to have things lined up in a particular way and the need to count things like steps, bottles etc.
4.Intrusive thoughts which might be violent or disturbing.
So, these are the main categories that several OCD victims fall in and Medical practitioners are not quite sure why some people develop this disorder but one thing they know for sure is that stress is one thing that can worsen the symptoms of OCD. Irrespective of the fact that both men and women can develop this disorder, is more common in women and teens or young adults than in men and the aged respectively. Despite the inability of Doctors to determine what the actual causes are, there are some risk factors such as if one has a parent, child or sibling with the disorder, physical differences in some parts of the brain, depression and anxiety, traumatic experiences, history of physical, emotional or sexual abuse as a child.
Now, before someone is diagnosed with the disorder, a doctor will examine the person through blood tests and other physical examinations to be sure that the symptoms the person is experiencing are not being triggered by something else. They will also speak to the person about their feelings, thoughts and daily habits.
After ensuring all these and diagnosing OCD if so, they would then go ahead to give the patient a suitable treatment. It is worthy to note however that, there is no cure for OCD but a person with the disorder will just be helped to manage the symptoms so that they do not affect the person’s life drastically through medicine, therapy or even a combination of these two depending on how serious the indiviual’s condition is.
The therapy treatment includes Psychotherapy which is a behavioural therapy that can help change the person’s thinking patterns in a form called exposure and response prevention where the doctor will put in a situation designed to create anxiety or trigger the person’s compulsions and then teach the person how to lessen and stop those thoughts or behaviours.
Indulging in simple things like meditation, yoga, and massages are also therapeutic ways or measures put in place to help with stressful OCD symptoms.
In terms of medication, psychiatric drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors help many OCD victims control obsessions and compulsions. They usually take two to four months to start working and so before those months, the person can still be having these obsessions and compulsions if therapy is not being combined with medication.
Other OCD related conditions include obsessions with things like how you look which is called the body dysmorphic disorder, collection, arranging or ordering things called the hoarding disorder, pulling out or eating your hair which is called the trichotillomania, picking at your skin which is also called exconcition, and body odour or how you smell.
These disorders do not kill but are not safe for one’s general wellbeing so you must seek help immediately.
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