Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterised by undesired images, thoughts, or urges (obsessions) and by behaviours, the client does (compulsions) to ease how upsetting the obsessions might be to them. A typical example of OCD behaviour in our daily lives is checking several times that the gas is turned off just because you do not want to cause accidents at home.
When going through OCD, the client may see the actions as the only form of relief. Unfortunately, these compulsions may cause anxiety.
Understanding OCD compulsions and obsessions
Compulsions are behaviours that drive you to do the same activity repeatedly. Urges take place as an attempt to get rid of obsessions. For example, cleaning your hands after you made contact with someone or an object to keep off contamination.
Obsessions are involuntary actions that repeatedly occur in your mind. For example, having an idea that you want to keep off your mind, but you cannot stop it. Such thoughts are disturbing and cause distraction.
OCD is associated with a cycle that starts with having an obsessive thought that might gradually cause anxiety. This anxiety could lead to compulsive behaviour, and later gaining temporary relief. This cycle might repeat as the patient gets exposed to various stimuli.
Categories of people with OCD
- Washers. They fear contamination and will always be cleaning nearly everything around them.
- Checkers. They are associating everything with danger. For example, they will keep on checking if the door is locked, the gas or oven is turned off, etc.
- Doubters. They are also referred to as sinners as they are afraid of something terrible happening because they failed to follow some instructions.
- Arrangers: Another name for them is the counters due to their obsession with order. These people have superstitious beliefs about numbers, arrangements, or even colours.
- Hoarders. They fear something terrible will happen if they get rid of some stuff. They will store things that they no longer need. Depression or posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) could also be causing such tendencies.
How to manage signs and symptoms of OCD
- What triggers you? Identify your triggers. It could be thoughts or being in a particular situation. Keep track of these triggers to help you anticipate the next urge for easy management.
- Learn to offer resistance. The more you resist the OCD compulsions, the easier it is to avoid them. You can choose to expose yourself and then initiate a response prevention action.
- Challenge your obsessions. From time to time, you may experience some thoughts troubling your mind. OCD will force the thought to be stuck in your brain, creating more anxiety. You can write down disturbing thoughts and decide to create time for clearing your mind through meditation and other mind-healing techniques.
- Seek help. OCD tends to be worse, leaving you powerless and alone. Look for a support group to create a connection with other people, making you less vulnerable. Create connections through family and friends, OCD support groups, etc.
Dennis Relojo-Howell is the managing director of Psychreg.
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