What is it Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a condition that affects the mental health of an individual and so, they display compulsive behaviours and have obsessive thoughts. It can affect everyone and in some instances, people will begin displaying symptoms at an early age.
It is an anxiety disorder whereby individuals have obsessions such as ideas or thoughts that lead to them doing something repetitively, known as compulsions. These thoughts and behaviours disrupt their life and in some cases, even when they know that their obsessions are not true, they are unable to stop the compulsive behaviours.
OCD is not a condition that affects one sex more than the other and so, it affects men, women and children of all races equally. It is also known as one of the top 20 causes of illness-related disability for people between the ages of 15 and 44.
In the US, around 2% of adults suffer from OCD while 1.2% of the UK population suffer from the condition. It affects many people in different ways and the highest level of OCD is seen in those who are between the ages of 18 and 29.
As many as half of those who suffer from OCD noticed that the condition began to start during childhood with it being more prevalent in boys.
Many people have obsessive thoughts and some will display compulsive behaviours although this doesn’t mean that the condition is present. However, some of the symptoms below are more than likely to come together:
Obsessive Thoughts Commonly Experienced by those with OCD:
- Concerns about germs, dirt and contamination
- A concern that they could lose control or even cause harm to others
- Unwelcome thoughts that are violent or sexually explicit
- Ideas and a strong focus on religious or moral ideas
- Worry about losing things that they might need
- Worry about not having the things that they need.
- Believing that everything has to have a specific place so items must line up or words on a page
- Significant focus on superstitions and all things that might be considered lucky or unlucky.
Compulsive Behaviours Commonly Experienced by those with OCD:
- Constantly checking things such as locks or switches
- Checking on loved ones to make sure they are safe
- Tapping, counting, repeating words to reduce anxiety
- Hand washing and cleaning
- Arranging things and putting things in order
- Praying or taking part in rituals through religious fears
- Collecting old rubbish such as containers or newspapers
There is a misconception that everyone has a bit of OCD in them, comments like “oh yeah, I’ve got a little bit of OCD” can be offensive to those suffering with this, a sometimes, debilitating condition. Many people confuse their feelings of wanting to do things in a certain way, like cleaning or lining items up, as OCD but this is simply not the case.
Some believe that OCD is a choice and that people can stop suffering with it but that is not true. People who suffer from OCD cannot control their thoughts and they act on compulsions to try and put a stop to these thoughts. OCD is a mental illness and should be treated with the seriousness that it deserves.
People who suffer from OCD have thoughts that they try to act against but many think that they also hear voices. This is not true and even though individuals might have violent thoughts, they won’t act on them because of fear.
One of the main misconceptions is that OCD only affects young people. Although most people do begin suffering at a young age, it can affect people at any age or stage of their life.
Fortunately, there are some effective treatments available for OCD and these can help to reduce the way in which it impacts lives.
Sufferers may be offered psychological therapy which is often cognitive behavioural therapy which helps individuals to face their fears and thoughts while overcoming the compulsions.
Along with this, they might also be given medicine and in many cases, they will be given a type of antidepressant known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) which work to change the way in which the chemicals are balanced in the brain.
The psychological therapy can work relatively quickly although the medicinal route can take a little less time before it works. In some instances, a combination of the two treatments is best.