Obsessive compulsive disorder or OCD in short is a painful psychological disorder that stems from anxiety which results in performing certain ritualistic behaviors which are believed by the patient to be easing his anxiety.
Obsession is a thought fixation which may be a feeling or emotion that greatly bothers the individual and thus sets anxiety reactions in him. He may thus be compelled to do certain actions which he feels that may abate his obsessive thoughts. A certain level of checking or rechecking whether the gas is put off or the work to be submitted has been reviewed properly is present in everybody and this minimum level of alertness is required for proper functioning and to avoid errors.
But on the other hand when a thought becomes a continuous worry or anxiety and begins to interfere in the normal daily functioning of a person its time that it should be taken seriously. Recurrent thoughts keep coming to the mind and the individual feels helpless yet can’t get rid of such anxious thoughts. He feels obligated to carry out certain repetitive rituals which even he understands to be pointless and unfounded.
Dealing With Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
What are Obsessions and Compulsions?
Obsessive compulsive disorder is clearly a psychological disorder causing enough distress for the person who is suffering and also for his family and friends. OCD is claimed to be one of the most recurring mental disorders and it can happen to any age group. When normal activities get hampered due to recurrent thoughts and by the consequent actions to be done the person’s professional and personal lives get impaired to a great extent. To deal with OCD we must first examine the nature of obsessions and compulsions.
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Obsessions usually make the person helpless; there might be a knowledge that such thoughts may be irrelevant yet the person is unable to evade from such thoughts. These may be simply thoughts, images or even inclinations and these keep recurring and in severe cases render the person incapable to concentrate in matters of importance.
Compulsions result from obsessions that is the person in his attempt to get rid of his obsessive anxiety performs a ritual which he feels is logical. Yet these obsessions and compulsions doesn’t get abated rather they get stronger and the person gets trapped into a vicious circle of anxiety and compulsive behaviors. Such behaviors are tedious; the compulsive actions are kept on repeated by the person as the obsessive thoughts keep coming back making the rituals a sheer wastage of time and energy.
Signs and Symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Normally functioning human beings may also indulge in a certain level of obsessions and compulsions which are but a person is said to be suffering from the obsessive compulsive disorder only when his obsessive thoughts preoccupy most of his thought process and his compulsive rituals take up most of his daily time. He is then unable to function properly in any other aspect of his life.
Obsessive compulsive disorder is diagnosed in those who have illogical fear of being contaminated, getting harmed, having recurrent aggressive thoughts and images, bogged down by holy and moralistic views, being extremely superstitious and trying to achieve extreme perfection in everything.
Such thoughts invariably lead to recurrent washing of the self and even objects, frequent checking, arranging and rearranging things, not letting go rubbish items like old news papers, broken utensils or empty tins and cans.
There can be different kinds of OCD like washers, checkers, doubters and sinners, counters and arrangers and hoarders. According to the type itself we can understand what kind of distress the affected individual is going through.
Washers are those whom we continuously find to be washing themselves or their hands; their obsessive thought is the fear of getting polluted and to get rid of such a fear they fall into a continuous regime of washing and purifying.
Checkers keep feeling scared of being harmed or looted therefore they need to repeatedly check if the gas oven is turned off properly or the doors and lockers are locked and safe. Likewise doubters and sinners are compelled to bring excellence; counters and arrangers keep bringing things into proper order and balance while hoarders don’t like the idea of giving up anything and they need to hold back every item in their household that has lost its utility.
Research Findings to Explain Obsessive Compulsive Behaviors
A number of researches and studies have drawn upon a number of factors that can make a certain population more prone to be suffering from obsessive compulsive disorders. One is that of high sense of responsibility that may compel a person to check, recheck whether things are in place and in order. Unrealistic threat appraisal is another factor that compels the person to keep performing rituals that seem to him will prevent mishaps.
It is also believed by experts that may be lack of memory or memory confidence can also trigger obsessive compulsive symptoms. A person may keep forgetting that he has checked a certain thing and may keep doing the same for his satisfaction. Indecisiveness has proved to be a factor for causing hoarding behavior as they are unable to decide if they should give away unnecessary items. Certain contradictory beliefs and behaviors may also result in OCD patients.
Treatment for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Obsessive compulsive disorder can be treated with therapies and also medication. However if the patient himself is willing to help himself with his will power can follow the four ‘Rs’ laid down by Psychiatrist Jeffery Schwartz. These are relabeling, re-attribution, refocus and revalue.
These can be explained as follows- the recurrent thoughts must be recognized and understood that these are responsible for triggering OCD behavior symptoms, the severity of impairment due to the symptoms is due to OCD, trying to divert thoughts to another meaningful activity and to be able to take away the level of importance given to the obsessive thoughts respectively. However cognitive behavior therapy, family therapy, group therapy and even joining support groups can help deal with obsessive compulsive disorder symptoms.