Do you know Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) affects about 2.3% of people at some points in their lives? Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a mental condition characterized by the presence of obsessions and/or compulsions. This condition is peculiar to children and young adults.
People suffering from OCD display certain behaviours like continuous washing of hands, constantly checking doors, having intrusive thoughts e.t.c.
The exact cause of obsessive compulsive disorder is unknown, however, there are risk factors like history of child abuse or stress-inducing event.
OCD is treated by cognitive therapy, drugs and in severe cases surgical procedure.
In this post I will be covering Meaning of OCD; symptoms; causes; effects; then the difference between OCD and OCPD; treatment and finally related illness/disorders. So, what is OCD?
What Is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a mental disorder characterized by having recurring and persistent thoughts, impulses or images(0bsessions) and/or having the urge to perform certain routines repeatedly(compulsions) to prevent or reduce distress. Simply put, it is a mental condition that involves obsession and/or compulsion which causes distress.
Most people with OCD are aware that their thoughts and activities are unreasonable but are unable to control them. Moreso, the obsessions and compulsions are time consuming and negatively affects the daily life of sufferers.
For someone to be diagnoses of OCD, there must be symptoms of obsessions, compulsions or both.
Having established the meaning of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Lets us look into obsessions and compulsions in details.
Obsessions are recurring and persistent thoughts that are usually unwanted. People with OCD perform certain routines repeatedly to relieve anxiety caused by the obsession. Obsessions causes significant distress.
Worries that arises from our conventional problem should not be confused with obsessions. A person having fear of being burgled is rational. However, if the fear of being burgled makes the said person persistently check the locks to confirm if it’s locked, then he may be affected by the disorder.
Compulsions are routines done repeatedly caused by obsessions to prevent or reduce distress.
people rely on compulsions to seek relief from the anxiety caused by their obsessions. For instance, someone may repeatedly count his money for fear of losing the money. In addition, compulsive actions are used to avoid situations that will trigger obsessions.
Although we all perform certain routines repeatedly, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is done compulsively. For instance, religious practises, office routine, workout programs, bedtime routines are performed repeatedly but they aren’t compulsions.
Who is affected by Obsessive Compulsive Disorder(OCD)
OCD is peculiar to children and usually begins most times between the Ages of 10-14years. Moreso, boys develop the symptoms earlier than girls. In some cases, symptoms persist throughout the lifetime. However, it is uncommon for symptoms to begin after the age of 35years and half of people with OCD develop problems before 20years.
There are lots of symptoms associated with obsessive compulsive disorder. Symptoms can either be an obsession or/and compulsion triggered, They are;
- Having Persistent thoughts of a loved one dying
- Having sexual obsessions that may involve images of rape, incest, anal sex.
- The need for exactness
- Having thoughts of a violent, religious or sexual nature
- Thoughts of harming others
- Fear of contamination
- Repetition of words
- Difficulty throwing things out
- Persistent washing of hands
- Repetitive counting of things
- Bathing numerous times in day
- Checking to see if the door is locked
- Excessive hair pulling
- Skin picking
- Persistent cleaning
The cause of OCD is unknown though a lot of people with the disorder have a history of child abuse or other stress-inducing events.
There seems to be a genetic factor with both identical twins more affected than non-identical twins. Moreso, individual with OCD often have first-degree family members with the same disorder.
OCD usually have a negative impact on sufferers professional, social as well as finally life. Some of the negative effects are
- Drug abuse
- Thoughts of suicide
- Skin damages in sufferers involved in persistent washing of hands
- Social isolation
- Panic attacks
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder vs Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder
OCD is often confused with OCPD. People with OCD are aware that their behaviours are not rational and are unhappy about their obsession but still feel compelled by them. These actions causes them distress.
On the other hand, people with OCPD deem their behaviours appropriate and ready to explain their actions. They tend to derive pleasure from their obsessions and/or compulsions.
Treatment of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Treatment can reduce OCD symptoms increasing quality of life. Symptoms may persist at a reduced level. Though, it is uncommon to have symptom free periods.
There are two methods of treating OCD, psychological and pharmacological (use of drugs). The approach is determined by the severity of the condition. Psychological treatment is used to treat mild cases of OCD while pharmacological treatment is preferred for moderate and severe cases.
Psychological treatment include;
- ‘cognitive behavioural therapy’ (CBT)
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
- Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)
As discussed earlier, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a mental disorder characterized by obsessions and compulsions. There are a handful of disorders/ conditions with similar and in some cases exact symptoms of OCD. These conditions are often diagnosed with OCD. Sometimes, they are often mistaken for OCD and vice versa.
Related disorders/illness include;
- Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder(OCPD)
- Anxiety Disorder
- Major Depressive Disorder
- Tic Disorder
- Eating Disorder
- Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Body Dysmorphic disorder
- Hair pulling
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
In conclusion, OCD leads to depression, anxiety and sometimes suicide. Immediately you notice symptoms of OCD, consult a medical practitioner.