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Understanding the Complexities of OCD

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Obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD is a common and familiar condition that is often misinterpreted. It refers to unruly, repetitive thoughts that make a person feel the urge to repeat a certain action or task again and again. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is defined by the words “obsession” and “compulsion,” each of which has a distinct meaning but is combined to form the term. Numerous OCD clinical trials in Illinois, Chicago are looking for potential OCD treatment options while attempting to understand this complex disorder.

OCD falls in the category of one of the top 10 conditions that negatively affect the quality of life and income, according to the WHO. In this blog, we’ll discuss the distinctions between obsessions and compulsions, OCD treatment options, triggers, symptoms, challenges, and methods for easing the worry that goes along with it.

Prevalence of OCD

OCD is a widespread condition to which a lot of people may be able to relate. The truth, however, is far different. The International OCD Foundation estimates that 1 in 100 adults and 1 in 200 children worldwide suffer from OCD. There are roughly 2–3 million adults and 500,000 children suffering from this condition, as a result. It is also called equal opportunity disorder.

Since it equally impacts both sexes.

Also read: What Causes OCD to Get Worse Over Time?

What are obsessions and compulsions?

Compulsions and obsessions are a vicious cycle of suffering. They are unwanted, bothersome urges, images, or thoughts that cause very uncomfortable feelings.

Compulsions are actions that someone makes in an effort to put an end to their obsessions and feel less distressed. They do this to lessen the obsessions, but it greatly interferes with daily activities because it takes so much time. Obsessions and compulsions may or may not be linked. To avoid an unforeseen circumstance, you might, for example, check, open, and lock your room’s door numerous times before leaving. 

Other instances of compulsive behaviours include

  • Recurrent hand washing
  • Making sure all of the appliances are turned off, repeatedly
  • Keeping an eye on loved ones
  • Arranging everything in a symmetrical pattern
  • Hoarding

Major OCD Categories

OCD is divided into a number of subtypes based on how it affects the individual. OCD triggers are defined by doctors as multifarious since they differ from person to person.

OCD groupings

  • OCD that causes harm. This makes people extremely agitated by the harmful thoughts that almost everyone has experienced. Most people can dismiss and shun such thoughts, but OCD sufferers struggle to manage their thoughts.
  • Sexual orientation OCD. Obsessions with one’s sexual orientation.
  • Paedophilia OCD. As people feel strongly about paedophiles, this disorder is especially vulnerable to shame. These urges, like others associated with OCD, are undesirable,
  • Relationship OCD. People with relationship OCD are completely unable to handle the uncertainty of personal relationships, leading them to obsess over the “suitability” of their own relationships and the countless possible outcomes that everyday life presents, with their partner.
  • Contamination OCD. OCD related to contamination is the most prevalent kind. Since they are “cleanliness freaks”, people frequently think they have OCD. In actuality, those who suffer from “contamination OCD” are the ones who are constantly in need of cleanliness and cannot stand even the slightest hint of unkemptness.
  • Just right OCD. This subtype of OCD is significantly distinct from the others because it has no obvious reason and the person just wants everything to be right. 

OCD treatment options

There is no single cure for OCD. However, the symptoms can be effectively managed by a combination of OCD treatment options. This includes medications, psychotherapy, or both simultaneously. 

  • Psychotherapy. It involves cognitive behavioural therapy that targets a person’s fears, putting them in situations where their fears could be triggered, and they will have to face them without losing control of themselves. 
  • Relaxation techniques. Yoga, meditation, and exercise can help to reduce the severity of symptoms. 
  • Medication. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are considered to be effective in treating OCD symptoms. They help to control obsessions and compulsions. However, it may take up to four months for the medications to show their effects. 
  • Neuromodulation. When none of the OCD treatment options works, neuromodulation may be the right option. It refers to electrical devices that alter the electrical activity of the brain.

Impact on quality of life

Although many people suffer minor obsessions and compulsions, such as the need to avoid cracks in the sidewalk or concern about leaving the gas on, they tend to be either short-lived or don’t severely interfere with daily living.

If you have OCD, your obsessions and compulsions probably have a significant effect on how you conduct your life:

  • Disruption to your regular routine. You could spend a lot of time repeating compulsions and avoiding circumstances that make your OCD worse. This may prevent you from going to work, visiting loved ones, eating out, or even going outside. You may find it challenging to concentrate and feel weary as a result of obsessions.
  • It can lead to self-harm. Repeated actions can take a toll on one’s mental health and can lead to them performing activities that can be harmful to them. 
  • Self-critical. OCD can often result in self-critical behaviour. People will question their actions as they affect them in a way that becomes unbearable with time. 

OCD and social anxiety

OCD causes behaviours that can be disturbing and can take a toll on one’s personality. People with OCD may estrange themselves from others as their repeated actions may be difficult to control in the public. This can shatter their confidence and their ability to interact with people around them. They feel anxious in front of others because of their constant urge to make things perfect, which at times becomes frustrating for others. 

Strategies to cope with OCD

OCD can be extremely exhausting. It can take away one’s mental peace. It’s possible for obsessions and compulsions to entirely take over your life, leaving you feeling exposed. However, there are a few things you may attempt to help manage your OCD and improve your well-being: 

  • By concentrating on your nutrition and choosing wholesome foods.
  • Recognise that you are not to blame.
  • Reducing stress.
  • Stop looking to other people for validation and start loving yourself.

Takeaway

OCD is a debilitating condition that can take a toll on one’s physical and mental health. It is important to keep a check on the symptoms so that complications can be avoided. OCD can affect someone so much that they may isolate themselves and lead a very miserable life. It is also crucial to extend help in any way one can to people who are suffering from OCD. Many clinical research organizations conduct clinical trials that are focused on improving lives and helping people in managing their OCD symptoms.


Ellen Diamond did her degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. She is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle. 

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