Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Everyone will tend to double check routine things as their day goes on.  Perhaps it’s lights left on, or the stove or turning heat or air conditioning off when you’re leaving your home for the day. Those with Obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD , find that their drive to perform routine things become less about doing those things and more about the drive to do them over and over again, and the inability to resist performing such acts over and over again.

Most obsessive compulsive acts revolve around a theme, such as it would be to turn off a stove, for fear the house might burn down when you’re away.  Those suffering from OCD, could, (as an example) check the stove repeatedly, leave the house, then need to go back and check it again and again.  Another example could be fear of being contaminated by germs then have the person with OCD wash their hands repeatedly, even to the point where they become red and raw, as their impulse takes a turn from a reasonable routine into something that is an irresistible drive that interferes with their ability to function or causes self harm or a cycle that they cannot break away from.

This is not to mean that those who consider themselves “perfectionists” would always then be deemed as having OCD.  Those with OCD may find that the routines of their obsessions or compulsions become so severe and/or time consuming that they become very distressed, are powerless to cease such urges, to the point where they become disabled by those urges.

Those with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder can, at times, find they experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Persistent unwanted thoughts, images, ideas or impulses that don’t make sense
  • Inability to focus due to obsessive thoughts about those impulses, ideas, etc.
  • Strong fear of germs, or contamination
  • Aggressive impulses
  • The extreme desire to have things in order to the extent it causes great distress when something is not in order

Some typical examples of signs and symptoms of obsessive behavior are:

  • Doubts you’ve locked your doors when you leave home
  • Doubts you’ve turned off the stove, and intense feelings the house might burn down while you’re away
  • Fear of touching objects others have touched, such as door handles
  • Fear of shaking hands, and the feeling of being contaminated and avoiding those situations
  • Hair loss due to hair tugging or pulling
  • Dermatological problems due to frequent hand washing
  • Skin lesions due to picking at skin

Some typical examples of signs and symptoms of compusive behavior are:

  • Checking things repeatedly and unnecessarily
  • Feeling driven to perform the same actions, and doing so repeatedly
  • Being overly orderly
  • Making up rituals or rules that control anxiety or panic attacks
  • Time consuming or or debilitating behaviors that recur, and don’t make sense

Obsessive-Compulsive disorder can persist throughout life, and tends to get worse at times of great stress.  If you feel you may be experiencing signs or symptoms of Obsessive or Compulsive behavior, see your doctor or a mental health professional.