We all have habits, patterns and routines that help us stay clean, healthy and safe. We wash our hands before eating. We lock the doors and turn off the oven before leaving the house. Humming a favourite song while working, reading before bedtime or laying out clothes for the next day, may be comforting rituals.
Individuals suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) become hung up or stuck on seemingly senseless, irrational thoughts (obsessions), patterns and routies (compulsions). They recogniye their thoughts and behaviours as irrational and senseless, but feel unable to stop them. Some spend hours at a time performing complicated rituals involving hand-washing, counting or checking in order to ward off persistent, unwelcome thoughts, feelings or images. Others live in terror that they will accidentally do something wrong, such as harm someone, blurt out an improper statement or throw something out by mistake.
Although once thought to be rare, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder affects between 2-3% of the general population and is slighly more common in women.
What are common obsessions and compulsions?
- Constant, irrational worrz about dirt, germs or contamination
- Nagging feelings that something bad will happen if certain items are not in an exact place, position or order
- Fear that one´s negative or blasphmous thoughts or images will cause personal harm or harm to a loved one
- Preoccupation with losing or throwing away objects with little or no value
- Rumination about accidentally or purposefully injuring another person
- Cleaning – Repeatedly washing one´s hands, bathing or cleaning household items, often for hours at time
- Checking – Checking and re-checking, several to hundreds of times per day, that the doors are locked, stove is turned-off, hairdryer is unplugged, etc
- Repeating – Unable to stop repeating a name, phrase or tune
- Slowness – Excessive, painstakingly slow and methodical approach to daily activities
- Hoarding – Saving useless items such as old newspapers or magazines, bottle caps or rubber bands
How can Obsessive Compulsive Disorder affect your life?
Obsessions and rituals can interfere substantially with a person´s normal routine, schoolwork, job, family or social activities. Several hours each day may be spent focusing on obsessive thoughts and performing seemingly senseless rituals. Trying to concentrate on normal daily activities can be difficult. People with OCD will often go to extreme lengths to hide their behaviour, even from friends and loved ones. If left untreated, OCD can take over one´s life.
What causes Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?
No one really knows what causes OCD. Researchers used to think it resulted from family attitudes or childhood experiences. Today, we know that is not the case. Growing evidence suggests that OCD results from abnormalities in the brain. Environmental factors could also play a role. OCD appears to run in families and may have a genetic link.
Can Children have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder can occur in children. The disorder seems to run in families, so it is not surprising when a child with one or both parents who have OCD begins showing symptoms. OCD can make it difficult for a child to complete tasks like homework and household chores. Relationships with peers, siblings and parents can become strained or problematic. In addition, children with OCD are prone to headaches, stomach aches and other stress-related ailments.
What treatment are available?
Fortunately, most individuals who seek treatment for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and other anxiety disorders see significant improvement and enjoy a better quality of life. A variety of treatment options exist including cognitive-behavioural theraphy, exposure theraphy, anxiety management and medications. One, or a combination of these, may be recommended. It is important to remember that there is no single “right” treatment. What works for one persona may or may not be the best choice for someone else. A course of treatment should be tailored to your individual needs. Ask your doctor to explain why a particular type of treatment is being recommended, what other options are available and what you need to do to fully participate in your recovery.
Take Five & Manage your Anxiety
Whether you have normal anxiety or an anxiety disorder, these strategies will help you cope:
Go for a walk or jog. Do joga. Dance, Just get moving!
2. Talk to someone
….Spouse, significant other, friend, child or doctor.
3. Keep a daily journal
Become aware of what triggers your anxiety.
4. Eat a balanced diet.
Don´t skip meals. Avoid caffeine which can trigger anxiety symptoms.
5. Consult your family doctor
Let your doctor help you.