- Posted by Jon Harju
- On September 17, 2019
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) often conjures up images of someone being super tidy, clean and organized in their life. OCD has become a term regularly thrown around as a cultural catchphrase, i.e. “I’m so OCD about my desk.”
But, in an effort to break down the stigma of mental health, it’s time to get clear and learn some truths about OCD.
What is OCD?
OCD is a serious anxiety-related condition where a person experiences uncontrollable, recurring thoughts (obsessions), and behaviours (compulsions) that they feel the need to repeat over and over.
How can OCD affect a person?
OCD occurs when a person’s thoughts and behaviour interferes with their day-to-day life.
For example, someone with OCD may worry about forgetting to turn the stove off but, they would not be able to check the stove just once, they would likely have to to check it repeatedly. This anxious cycle can take minutes or hours until the anxiety reduces enough for the person to move on to their next activity.
What are the symptoms of OCD?
Everyone has intrusive thoughts. However, people with OCD believe these thoughts contain high risk with catastrophic consequences. Symptoms of OCD involve both obsessions and compulsions.
Common OCD obsessions include:
- Fear of contamination (germs and dirt)
- Fear of behaving unacceptably
- Fear of causing harm to someone else
- Need for symmetry or preciseness in the environment
Common compulsions involve:
- Checking things
- Dressing rituals
Carrying out a ritual can give people temporary relief from their anxiety. However, if they begin to doubt they correctly carried out the ritual, they may feel the need to repeat to ‘get it right’ – a process that can last for hours.
What causes OCD?
Many different factors may contribute to the development of mental health disorders. Despite considerable research and a range of theories and, scientists have been unable to identify a definitive cause for why a person develops OCD.
Getting the right support for managing OCD
There is a range of approaches to OCD treatment and management. A mental health professional will be able to guide someone to the best help available.
Two common approaches are:
Psychological therapy – Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can help to teach strategies for recognizing and overcoming distressing or anxious thoughts.
Medication – medications can be used to help manage and treat the symptoms of OCD. Your family physician or psychiatrist can discuss the different medication options.
Don’t struggle alone
Far too often, people with OCD can struggle to speak openly about their condition, or rather, how it manifests itself, simply because it feels…embarrassing. Imagine trying to explain to someone that you have to lock the front door a very specific number of times, or else some calamity will occur. Now, imagine having to deal with such thoughts multiple times daily.
Having occasional worries, anxieties, or habitual behaviours is very common, and is not always a sign of OCD. However, if your thoughts and behaviours seem excessive, cause distress, and impact your ability to carry out your daily life, then as with any mental illness, it’s important to seek help.
Download Snapclarity to get the help you need, when you need it.