What is it?
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or (OCD) is known as a mental illness which is usually related and associated with anxiety. People who are anxious often display repetitive actions. A person with OCD may manage to hide their behaviour for some quite some time and from most people, but people close may see agitation and frustrations as a giveaway.
Obsessive compulsive disorder can be mild or it may have a major impact on the sufferers life. Almost always, untreated OCD will get worse and more and more obsessive behaviours will impact on the person living with OCD.
If you have had problems with anxiety for some time and you have not talked to someone about it, you will almost certainly have some repetitive obsessive compulsive disorder type behaviours, even if you are not aware of them.
Obsession: An unwanted, unpleasant thought, image or urge that repeatedly enters a person’s mind, causing them to feel anxious. Obsessions can often be positive and enjoyable, but in the case of obsessive compulsive disorder the obsessions are often unpleasant and disruptive to a healthy well-being and often scary for the sufferer.
Compulsion: A mental thought which is powerful and must be acted upon. The OCD sufferer may feel they have no choice but to act on the thought they have, no matter how hard they try to avoid the repetitive behaviour, it can become life controlling.
Some of the more common obsessive compulsive disorder behaviours may include:
- Excessive washing of hands or other body parts
- Fear of hurting oneself or others
- Checking doors or windows are locked over and over again
- Being overly cautious
- Constantly rearranging cushions or furniture
- Decorating after only a short time frame
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Symptoms and Cycles
OCD is a very serious disorder, it can raise levels of stress to dangerous levels, it can isolate sufferers from friends and family because of the fear of their behaviours being identified. For this reason it can be very difficult to live a fully functioning life.
People suffering with OCD may have their own unique compulsions and behaviours, but there are cycles of behaviours, often the pattern may be something like this:
- The Obsession – Your mind may be overwhelmed by a constant obsessive fear, thought or worry, such as you must shower after using the toilet or wash your hands repeatedly
- The Anxiety – This obsession may create a feeling of intense anxiety or distress which feels overwhelming
- The Compulsion – You may adopt a pattern of compulsive behaviours to reduce your anxiety and distress, such as taking a shower or repeatedly washing your hands several times, worrying whether you managed to get them clean.
- The Temporary relief – The compulsive behaviour (washing hands or showering) reduces the stress and anxiety but the obsession and anxiety soon return, causing the cycle to begin again, it may feel like whatever you do – it isn’t enough.
What causes obsessive compulsive disorder?
There is evidence that OCD may be prevalent in families and a generic reason may be the cause. There are other professionals who argue that OCD could be a learned behaviour. In either case, if you are around people with OCD, then you are more likely to pick up some of the anxiety and behaviours.
Some studies have shown that people with OCD have an imbalance of serotonin in their brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that the brain uses to transmit information from one brain cell to another, the imbalance may suggest why some people are more prone to OCD.
Depending on how severe your OCD is or how much it affects your ability to function in your life, will somewhat dictate the treatment you will benefit best from. Talking Treatments or Cognitive Behaviour Therapy a type of counselling which is very beneficial in treating OCD by helping the sufferer to change how they think and behave, talking to a therapist online may help if the sufferer worries about being outside of their home or is not comfortable in public places.
Sometimes for people with severe symptoms of OCD a combination of counselling and medication may be most effective, anti depressants or a selective serotonin uptake inhibitor (SSRIs) are sometimes used to treat severe cases of OCD, these can be prescribed by your GP.
If left untreated obsessive compulsive disorder can result in severe disruption to your ability to fully function, it can and often does send the sufferer into a deep depression, so the best thing to do is to talk to a counsellor and explore whether medication is also needed, alternatively, make an appointment to see your GP and ask for his opinion.
Soph UK August 9th 2010
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Thank you Paul, you will always be my best counsellor, life coach and friend.
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