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“Unreasonable thoughts and fears (obsessions) that lead to compulsive behaviours.”

— Excessive double-checking of things, such as locks, appliances, and switches

— Counting, tapping, repeating certain words, or doing other senseless things to reduce anxiety

— Ordering or arranging things “just so”

— Praying excessively or engaging in rituals triggered by religious fear

— Intrusive sexually explicit or violent thoughts and images

— Fear of losing or not having things you might need

— Superstitions; excessive attention to something considered lucky or unlucky

— Fear of being contaminated by germs or dirt or contaminating others

Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

What is OCD?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by uncontrollable, unwanted thoughts and repetitive, ritualized behaviors you feel compelled to perform. If you have OCD, you probably recognize that your obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors are irrational—but even so, you feel unable to resist them and break free.

Like a needle getting stuck on an old record, OCD causes the brain to get stuck on a particular thought or urge. For example, you may check the stove 20 times to make sure it’s really turned off, or wash your hands until they’re scrubbed raw.

Understanding Anxiety Disorder:

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is an anxiety disorder characterized by unwanted thoughts and repetitive, ritualized behaviors you feel compelled to perform. If you have OCD, you probably recognize that your obsessions and compulsions are irrational—but even so, you feel unable to resist them and break free.

Obsessions are involuntary thoughts, images, or impulses that occur over and over again in your mind. You don’t want to have these ideas, but you can’t stop them. Unfortunately, these obsessive thoughts are often disturbing and distracting.

Compulsions are behaviors or rituals that you feel driven to act out again and again. Usually, compulsions are performed in an attempt to make obsessions go away.

For example, if you’re afraid of contamination, you might develop elaborate cleaning rituals. However, the relief never lasts. In fact, the obsessive thoughts usually come back stronger. And the compulsive rituals and behaviors often end up causing anxiety themselves as they become more demanding and time-consuming. This is the vicious cycle of OCD.

Useful Info on OCD

When to see a doctor?

There’s a difference between being a perfectionist — someone who requires flawless results or performance, for example — and having OCD. OCD thoughts aren’t simply excessive worries about real problems in your life or liking to have things clean or arranged in a specific way.

If your obsessions and compulsions are affecting your quality of life, see your doctor or mental health professional.

Causes of OCD?

The cause of obsessive-compulsive disorder isn’t fully understood. Main theories include:

  • Biology. OCD may be a result of changes in your body’s own natural chemistry or brain functions.
  • Genetics. OCD may have a genetic component, but specific genes have yet to be identified.
  • Environment. Some environmental factors such as infections are suggested as a trigger for OCD, but more research is needed.

Self Help for OCD.

Exercise regularly

Exercise is a natural and can be a highly effective anti-anxiety treatment. It can help control OCD symptoms by strengthening your nervous system helping you to refocus your mind when obsessive thoughts and compulsions arise. For maximum benefit, try to get 30 minutes or more of aerobic activity on most days. Ten minutes several times a day can be as effective as one longer period especially if you pay mindful attention to the movement process.

Stay connected to family and friends

Obsessions and compulsions can consume your life to the point of social isolation. In turn, social isolation will aggravate your OCD symptoms. It’s important to invest in relating to family and friends. Talking face-to-face about your worries and urges can make them feel less real and less threatening.

Get enough sleep

Not only can anxiety and worry cause insomnia, but a lack of sleep can also exacerbate anxious thoughts and feelings. When you’re well rested, it’s much easier to keep your emotional balance, a key factor in coping with anxiety disorders such as OCD.

Practice relaxation techniques

Stress can trigger symptoms or make them worse. Mindful meditation, yoga, deep breathing, and other relaxation techniques can help lower your overall stress and tension levels and help you manage your urges. For best results, practice a relaxation technique regularly.

How Is OCD Treated.

The treatment for OCD with the most research supporting its effectiveness is cognitive-behavioral therapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy for obsessive-compulsive disorder involves two components: 1) exposure and response prevention, and 2) cognitive therapy.

Exposure and response prevention for OCD

Exposure and response prevention involves repeated exposure to the source of your obsession. Then you are asked to refrain from the compulsive behavior you’d usually perform to reduce your anxiety.

For example, if you are a compulsive hand washer, you might be asked to touch the door handle in a public restroom and then be prevented from washing up. As you sit with the anxiety, the urge to wash your hands will gradually begin to go away on its own. In this way, you learn that you don’t need the ritual to get rid of your anxiety—that you have some control over your obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors.

Studies show that exposure and response prevention can actually “retrain” the brain, permanently reducing the occurrence of OCD symptoms.

Cognitive therapy

The cognitive therapy component for obsessive-compulsive disorder focuses on the catastrophic thoughts and exaggerated sense of responsibility you feel. A big part of cognitive therapy for OCD is teaching you healthy and effective ways of responding to obsessive thoughts, without resorting to compulsive behavior.

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