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Understanding Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Here's what everyone needs to know about OCD!

Keeping in mind that there is a desperate need for us to spread awareness about different mental health issues that people face, here’s what everyone needs to know about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, more commonly known as OCD. If you know anyone who may be suffering from the symptoms mentioned below or has been exhibiting behavior that aligns with the pattern that we discuss below, it’s time you ask them to seek professional help.

What is OCD?

The International OCD Foundation defines OCD as,

‘…a mental health disorder that affects people of all ages and walks of life and occurs when a person gets caught in a cycle of obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are unwanted, intrusive thoughts, images or urges that trigger intensely distressing feelings.’

 In simple words, those suffering from OCD whether it be mild or severe are likely to develop certain obsessive behavior or thought patterns that impede their ability to function in daily life or disrupt their routine.

At this point, it’s also important to understand that these behaviors may develop at any point in life and that the person suffering from them has absolutely no control over them. Rebuking them, trying to chastise them for these behaviors may distress them further and only increase their dread, making them feel unsafe – remember, they cannot stop engaging in these acts but feel it necessary since they feel as if something terrible will happen if they don’t engage in these repetitive behaviors. If you see a loved one exhibiting these symptoms, don’t worsen it by telling them to get over it.  Instead, seek professional help instantly.

Symptoms of OCD

According to HelpGuide.org, a website that provides extensive psychological information on many mental health issues, those suffering from OCD will either suffer from both obsessions and compulsions or one of them – this does not determine the intensity of this disorder.

Obsessive thought patterns in OCD

  • The fear that you will either contaminate others or contract contaminations yourself.
  • The fear that you will not be able to control yourself and will harm others.
  • Violent and/or sexual imagery that is intrusive and disrupts your daily routine.
  • Worrying about religion and morality.
  • The fear that you will lose things that you might need later.
  • The obsessive need to see everything in its ‘correct’ place.
  • Being obsessively aware of superstitions.

Compulsive behavioral patterns in OCD

  • Repeatedly checking things such as switches, lights, locks etc. to the point of obsession.
  • Constantly checking up on your friends and loved ones to make sure they’re ‘safe’.
  • Doing nonsensical things such as tapping your fingers/legs, counting, repeating phrases to keep the anxiety at bay.
  • Cleaning things to the point of obsession.
  • Constantly trying to arrange things to put them in their correct place.
  • Excessive praying and engaging in religious rituals out of fear of religion.
  • Hoarding and accumulating items that have no apparent value or place in the person’s life.

If you feel as if you or someone you know might fit into the thoughts or behaviors mentioned above, please make sure you consult a psychologist as soon as possible. Remember that everyone around you cares about you and there is no stigma or shame in seeking help. Your mental health is the most important – don’t undermine its importance.

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