When suffering from OCD people will usually carry out repeated tasks in response to the obsessional impulses, thoughts, (ideas). OCD is really a complex of both. Life can be almost unbearable and the OCD sufferer often feels they are locked up and trapped in their own minds.
Many OCD sufferers feel they are going to be misunderstood by others. So they develop strategies to hide their symptoms so they can appear normal to the outside world.
The symptoms can be so severe for some people that they are unable to function in normal everyday life.
Do many people have OCD – Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (obsessions and/or compulsions)?
The condition is quite common. As many as 1 in 50 adolescents and adults have some form of obsessions and compulsions disorder.
Typical symptoms of OCD – Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Many people have heard of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). However; there is much confusion over what obsessions and compulsions are. Basic guides are given below.
- Recurrent and persistent thoughts, impulses or images. These are experienced during the disturbance as intrusive and inappropriate. They also cause significant anxiety or distress.
- The above are not just excessive worries about real-life situations.
- The sufferer consciously attempts to suppress or neutralise the thoughts, impulses or images with some other thought or behaviour.
- The sufferer realises that the thoughts, impulses or images are just a product of there own mind.
- Repetitive behaviours or mental acts that the person feels a compulsion to perform due to an obsession. Usually in accordance to ‘rules’ that must be rigidly adhered to.
- The behaviours or mental acts are to prevent or reduce distress or prevent a dreaded occurrence from happening. The behaviours or mental acts are not a realistic way to neutralise or prevent this or are recognised as excessive.
In addition to the above at some point the sufferer must realise that there obsessions or compulsions are unreasonable.
Additionally the obsessions or compulsions must be time-consuming, (over an hour per day), distressful or impair social, occupational or educational functioning.
Obsessional behaviours in real-life
Obsessions are thoughts, ideas, or impulses that the sufferer cannot stop thinking about. There mind is constantly intruded by them. It appears that the person does not know where they come from.
Obsessional behaviours include:
- Repeated hand-washing or actions (e.g., checking windows are locked).
- Avoiding cracks in pavements or similar.
- Over-working – perfectionism (at the expense of family, social life and health).
- Avoid interacting on an emotional level – do anything to keep people at arms length.
- Worrying about illness – catching a disease from a clean surface. (Even worse in the dirty world).
- Constantly thinking about negative outcomes or situations.
- Constant fears of flooding the house, setting it on fire, or
- Constant fears of being burgled.
- Thoughts about physically harming a loved one – knife, car etc
- Worries about precision, perfection or symmetry, (constantly checking pictures are level)
- Intrusive sexual thoughts or urges.
Plus so many more
Compulsive behaviours in real-life
Compulsions are actions that the sufferer completes repeatedly due to an obsessional thought. People feel a total ‘necessity’ to carry out the action continuously at any cost. Sufferers usually feel guilty for carrying out the action but are unable find a way to prevent the feeling that the task has to be done.
E.g. Housework: The sufferer will feel a sense of greater peace of mind when doing the housework, (a response to obsessional thoughts about keeping the house clean or catching a disease from a dirty surface). If the response is interrupted, (someone at the door), then the level of anxiety experienced will escalate as the housework has not been completed to a required satisfactory level. But if the compulsive action has been completed it is common for the cycle to begin again despite the house being immaculate. Sometimes a different compulsive activity can be engaged in before returning to the housework that does not actually need to be done. Some sufferers are unable to discern when an action has been completed. These people can find themeselves locked in a cycle of repeatedly doing the behaviour, (washing their hands, checking the locks), for hours at a time.
Compulsive behaviours include:
- Gambling addictions.
- Drug addictions (including smoking cigarettes/joints).
- Eating inappropriate amounts of food.
- Cleaning (washing hands or wiping worktops, ‘hoovering’ for hours on end).
- Checking (light switches, locks, gas cooker is turned off etc.).
- Counting columns of numbers for hours at a time.
- Arranging (cutlery facing the same way, books, CDs by colour or name).
- Constantly repeating words.
- Completing (performing the behaviour in exact order again and again, until it is done completely perfectly. And if interrupted usually start all over again).
- Hoarding (the collecting useless objects).