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What You Need To Know About Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a common, chronic and long-lasting disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and behaviours (compulsions) that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over. It is an anxiety disorder in which affected people have recurring, unwanted thoughts, ideas or sensations (obsessions) that make them feel driven to do something repetitively (compulsions).

Not everyone who is meticulous and painstaking has OCD. However, in people with OCD, signs and symptoms may interfere with other aspects of their lives. OCD requires professional diagnosis which may be based on:

  1. The presence of obsession and/or compulsions

  2.  These obsessions and/or compulsions are time-consuming (more than one hour a day)

  3. They cause major distress

  4. They impair work, social or other important function.

Some of the obsessions are:

  1. Fear of germs or contamination

  2. Unwanted forbidden or taboo thoughts involving sex, religion, and harm

  3. Aggressive thoughts towards others or self

  4. Having things symmetrical or in a perfect order

And the compulsions that may result are:

  1. Cleaning to reduce the fear that germs, dirt, or chemicals will "contaminate" them. They may spend many hours washing or cleaning their surroundings.

  2. Repeating to dispel anxiety. Some affected persons utter a name or phrase or repeat a behaviour several times. They know these repetitions won’t actually guard against injury but fear harm will occur if the repetitions aren’t done.

  3. Checking to reduce the fear of harming oneself or others by, for example, forgetting to lock the door or turn off the gas stove, some people develop checking rituals. Some people repeatedly retrace driving routes to be sure they haven’t hit anyone.

  4. Ordering and arranging to reduce discomfort. Some people like to put objects, such as books in a certain order, or arrange household items “just so,” or in a symmetric fashion.

  5. Mental compulsions to response to intrusive obsessive thoughts, some people silently pray or say phrases to reduce anxiety or prevent a dreaded future event.

Some facts about OCD

  1. About 1.2 percent of Americans have OCD

  2. It is commoner in women.

  3. Symptoms may manifest in childhood, adolescence or adulthood. However, the average age of manifestation of symptoms is 19.

  4. Causes are unknown but risk factors recognized include those involving genetics, brain structure and functioning and environmental factors.

  5. People with OCD have may have repetitive motions or actions called tics. This may be clearing the throat, grunting sounds, shrugging the shoulders, tapping surfaces etc.

OCD may interfere in normal day to day functioning of a person and as such, if you suspect you have OCD, please see your doctor. OCD is amenable to treatment; pharmacological (with drugs) and psychotherapy.


Article By: Ekeugo Oge Chioma