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OCD – Meaning, Causes, Symptoms, Types, Self- help, Treatment

You have closed the door and checked it multiple times. You have washed your hands and still repeating washing as you think it is still dirty. You are checking the gas burner multiple times before sleeping. You think that some things should be in a particular order. If you are behaving like this, you are suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD. It is a mental condition that affects our day-to-day life. Before proceeding further let us understand the meaning of OCD.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder

OCD – Meaning and Definition

As per the National Institute of Mental Health (NIHM) obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a chronic condition in which a person gets thoughts that are beyond his control. The patient also feels an urge to perform certain compulsive and repetitive behaviors.

Meriam Webster's dictionary defines OCD as an anxiety disorder where obsessive and compulsive thoughts come to mind. Such thoughts affect day to day routine of those affected.

As per the meaning given in Oxford Learner’s Dictionary OCD is a mental condition in which a person feels the urge to repeat certain actions or activities to keep away the unpleasant thoughts.

In short, we can define OCD as an anxiety disorder in which chronic thoughts come to mind and it compels the patient to indulge in certain repetitive behavior like washing hands or checking locks.

What Causes and Risk Factors of OCD

What causes OCD is still not determined. But yes, there are certain factors that may increase the likelihood of OCD and may worsen the disease. These risk factors are as follows.

  • People whose parents and siblings are suffering from this disease have greater chances of developing OCD. So, it hints toward genetic and hereditary causes.
  • Distorted Beliefs can also lead to OCD.
  • Physical difference in certain parts of the brain is attributed as the reason.
  • Medical conditions like depression, anxiety and tics may lead to OCD.
  • Those who have gone through trauma can also develop OCD.
  • People who have been sexually abused in childhood have a greater chance to develop OCD.
  • Children might develop OCD after streptococcal infection.

Symptoms of OCD

Once we have understood the causes and warning signs of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), it is time to learn about the symptoms of OCD. These are as follows.

  • Worries about dirt and infection
  • Arranging things in a particular order
  • Fear of harming oneself and others
  • Obtrusive thoughts about religion and sex
  • Avoiding touching objects for the fear of contamination
  • Doubts about locking the door
  • Counting currency several times
  • Seeking reassurance
  • Checking gas stove several times
  • Repeating certain word or phrases silently
  • Avoidance of shaking hands as my trigger washing
  • Sexual images that you don’t see in normal times

What are the Types of OCD

The types of obsessive-compulsive disorder can be described on symptoms. Here OCD can be divided into different types based on behavior patterns.

Organizing Things

Organization is the most common form of OCD in which a person tries to arrange things in a particular order. People insist on following symmetry while organizing things. Like bottles in a refrigerator should be in a particular order or plants should be of the same size.

Fear of Contamination

In some cases, people suffering from OCD have a fear of contamination. They think that people that come in touch might contaminate them or common things or surfaces they touch may have germs. So, people suffering from such types of OCD have the habit of washing their hands frequently.

Intrusive Thinking

In such a situation, intrusive ideas come to your mind. Some random thoughts keep crossing the mind. The affected person may have thought that he may hurt someone, he may injure someone or his harmful thinking could be true. To keep such thoughts away he may shout something or repeat some words silently. Interestingly, the affected person doesn’t agree with the intrusive thoughts. This situation may lead to distress and anxiety.

Ruminating Thoughts

In this type of OCD, the affected person may stick with some ideas. The ideas could be of varied types. The affected person might try to find an answer to his question and may leave the work at hand.

Checking OCD

Some persons with OCD might have an urge to check. For example, he may check whether the doors are locked, the switches are off, and the money is put properly in the purse. In some situations, they might count currency multiple times.

Self Help for OCD

One can better manage OCD by following certain self-help tips. Here we list some self-care tips you might find useful.

Get the Facts Right

Suffering from OCD is frustrating. You might think why me. Instead of pitying, you should get your facts right. As per data from NIMH around 2 percent of people in the USA suffer from this anxiety disorder.

Know the Reality

You should understand that the fears you have are not realistic. You should write your fearing thoughts and know whether they are real. It will help you in a great way.

Exercise Can Help

Several studies have found that exercise in conjunction with regular exercise can reduce the symptoms of OCD to a certain extent.

Accept the Effects of OCD

You should understand how OCD is impacting your daily life negatively. Only then you would be able to fight it out. Write down how is it making your life worse and resolve to fight it out.

Keep a Notebook

You should keep a notebook along with you and write down the intrusive thoughts that come to your mind. Read it aloud and you will feel how baseless they are.

Resist the Repetition

You should go slow on your repetitive behavior. If you are checking the doors 5 times, make it a goal to reduce it to 3 times in the coming week. And keep lowering it until it comes back to normal.

Don’t Feed the Rituals

If you feel an urgency to perform a ritual and you can’t stop, you should try to delay it. By delaying it your anxiety gets lowered. You may not feel like performing it after a certain period.

Read Books on OCD

There are several books that have been written for people suffering from OCD. These books can help you resists and delay the rituals. Scour the internet for these books.

Also Read

10 OCD Self Help Books That Help You Control OCD Like a Pro

Learn to Relax

Relaxation techniques in conjunction with medication can help you reduce the symptoms of OCD. Learn yoga, meditation and other relaxation techniques.

Diagnosis of OCD

Modern medicine works on first diagnosis then prescribing. So before heading towards treatment let us know how OCD is diagnosed.

Psychological Evaluation

In such a diagnosis, a medical consultant evaluates your thoughts, feelings and behavior pattern. He seeks your permission to talk to people around you so that he can have more understanding of your situation.

DSM 5 Criteria

Your doctor may use DSM 5 criteria prescribed by American Psychiatric Association. DSM 5 is a tool and mental guide for diagnosing mental health.

Physical Examination

A doctor performs a physical examination to find out if there is an underlying health issue that is causing symptoms.

Treatment of OCD

When it comes to the treatment of OCD, there are various treatment options available. Here we list some of the most popular treatments for OCD.

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Psychotherapy as a treatment of OCD is highly popular worldwide. The most common form of psychotherapy is Cognitive Behavior Therapy CBT treatment. This treatment involves Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) where patients are exposed to dirt and other feared materials and taught to resist the urge to perform compulsive rituals.

Also Read

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Under this treatment, medicines are administered as a part of the treatment. Most of the time antidepressants are given as the first line of treatment.

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

In cases where CBT and medication don’t work doctors use electroconvulsive therapy. In this treatment, electrodes are attached to the head to give a shock to the brain. These shocks have a therapeutic effect.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation TMS

In such a treatment, a magnetic instrument is fixed on the head. Through this instrument, magnetic waves are sent to the brain that releases certain chemicals. These chemicals have mood uplifting effects.

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Famous Persons With OCD

OCD is just not limited to the common man but a large number of celebrities and renowned personalities are also its victims. Here is the list.

Billy Bob Thornton

Billy Bob Thornton is a famous actor in America. He fears antique furniture and certain kinds of silverware.

Nicolas Cage

Nicolas Cage is a multiple award-winning actor and filmmaker. He is better known for his films Valley Girl, Raising Arizona, and Moonstruck among the others.

Howard Stern

Howard Stern wears many hats. He is a comedian, author, and radio & TV presenter. He has various awards to his credit. He admitted that he is suffering from OCD on the show Miss America.

Michelle Mone

Besides being a parliamentarian Michelle Mone is also a well-known businesswoman.

Jessica Alba

Jessica Alba is an American actress who also appears on TV. She is also the owner of some businesses. Honey, Fantastic Four, and Good Luck Chuck are her famous films.

John Abraham

John Abraham is an Indian model and actor who has worked in several notable films like Jism, Force, and Baabul among the others. He is obsessed with arranging things in a particular order.

David Beckham

OCD has also affected ace footballers like David Beckham. As per his own admission, he is obsessed with arranging things in straight line or having things in pairs.

Katy Perry

Katy Perry is known for her multiple talent including singing, songwriting, television personality and actress. She has the fear of germaphobe and follows an annoying cleaning ritual.

Leonardo DiCaprio

Leonardo DiCaprio is an actor who is better known for his films like Titanic and The Aviator is also known to have mild OCD. He feels a compulsion to walk through a door multiple times or step on chewing gum stains.

Fiona Apple

Fiona Apple is a US-based singer and songwriter. As per her own admission, OCD has severely impacted her career.

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