What is Obsessive compulsive disorder?
Obsessive compulsive disorder is a type of a mental health condition. This condition can be distressing and many a time embarrassing to the person suffering. OCD has 2 aspects- obsessions and compulsions. People suffering from OCD may have only obsessions or compulsions or have both. So, the central feature is a person having repeated thoughts which they cannot avoid or resist and repeated behaviours in response to those thoughts.
Essentially the term obsession refers to a thought or urge or images. People sometimes describe these thoughts as even a video sequence. There are different kinds of obsessive thoughts but they are all characterized by the fact that it is distressing to the person.
What is the nature of an intrusive, obsessive thought?
As described earlier, an obsessive thought is an unwanted thought that comes into the mind of the person affected even if the person tries to resist it. It usually concerns doubts and not being a 100% certain. It can also have other forms but they are all distressing in nature. It requires a person to perform a particular behaviour, ritual or think of an opposite “neutralizing thought “to reduce the anxiety and uncomfortable feeling. The relief from anxiety is however short lived and usually the thoughts don’t go away in response to the behaviours. Sometimes people may only have obsessive thoughts and no associated behaviours.
Give some examples of an obsessive thought?
Some examples of obsessive thoughts include having repeated thoughts of contamination and dirt , not certain if one has locked the door or having distressing thoughts of wanting to scream or behave aggressively; thoughts of loved ones dead; always conscious about swallowing, breathing are some examples of obsessive thoughts.
What is a compulsion?
Essentially compulsions are behaviours. They can be repetitive and usually in response to an obsessive thought, in order to combat the obsessive thought. Sometimes compulsions may not be in the form of behaviours but mental neutralizing action. In some people with OCD, pure compulsions will be present without the obsessional thoughts.
Why do people have compulsive rituals?
People have certain behaviours or thoughts known as compulsions in order to reduce their anxiety. It is usually in response to an obsessional thought. So, when one is having repetitive thoughts in the form of doubts if they have locked the door and are anxious as they are not a 100% certain, it will result in compulsive rituals in the form of checking doors repeatedly.
Give some examples of compulsive rituals?
Some examples of compulsive rituals include repetitive counting, checking and washing in response to obsessive thoughts. Sometimes some people may need to check on their near and dear repeatedly or seek reassurance as they may have obsessive thoughts that the person may have died. Sometimes instead of checking they may have to have a thought in the head of them looking healthy, in order to “neutralize” the thought of the loved one dying.
Checking locks in response to doubtful thoughts of whether one has locked the door is also a compulsive ritual. Washing hands on hours at a stretch and not feeling that one has washed the hands “enough “is an example of a compulsive ritual in response to thoughts of fear of dirt and contamination.
What are the signs of OCD?
OCD is also known as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. It either obsessions, compulsions or both. Obsessional thoughts are repetitive thoughts that come repeatedly into the head. They are distressing and anxiety provoking. Certain rituals are done to counteract these thoughts known as compulsions. Sometimes OCD may present with co morbid depression or anxiety and the signs of depression or anxiety could be the main presenting feature.
Is obsessive compulsive disorder a mental illness?
Obsessive compulsive disorder is a mental health condition that is diagnosed and treated by psychiatrists with medications and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy.
Can mood be affected in OCD?
Mood disorders including depression can co exist with OCD. Sometimes obsessional thoughts and compulsions can cause low mood.
Can sleep be affected in OCD?
Sleep difficulties can occur in Obsessive compulsive disorder due to the obsessive thoughts or the need to be awake for the compulsions. Sometimes when a person is sleepless, it makes the OCD worse.
Can anxiety be present along with OCD?
Anxiety disorders can co-exist with OCD. Obsessional thoughts can be distressing and anxiety provoking. Sometimes when compulsions are resisted, that can lead to anxiety and panic attacks as well.
Can people with OCD get schizophrenia?
Some studies have shown that people with OCD have relatives who have a higher risk of developing schizophrenia and psychosis. Some people with OCD may go on to develop psychosis and schizophrenia later in life.
What is the difference between an obsessive thought and delusion?
The nature of an obsessional thought is that they are distressing and repetitive images that come into the mind without one’s control. People are aware that it is their own thoughts. Delusion is a psychotic symptom where a person will have a fixed and unshakeable false belief which is out of keeping with one’s cultural belief. Sometimes obsessions can co-exist with delusions.
Can OCD be present along with psychotic symptoms?
A psychotic illness can be present alongside a psychotic illness as an unrelated disorder. Sometimes it may prove difficult to differentiate obsessional symptoms from psychotic symptoms and people may be misdiagnosed.
How do I know if I am OCD?
Having obsessional thoughts and compulsions is very much seen at various points in a normal person’s life. Around 95% of the population admit to having the occasional obsessional thoughts and compulsions. What makes a person diagnosable with OCD is the duration of the symptoms and how bad it is. For instance, if it affects a person’s functioning so that work cannot be performed as a result of OCD or one needs to be housebound due to the severity of symptoms the one is diagnosed with OCD.
At what age does OCD begin?
OCD sometimes begins in childhood around 10 years of age. Other peak is around adulthood where again OCD may peak.
Does OCD get worse with age?
OCD does tend to get worse if it is left untreated. People may not be able to function and may start getting isolated. It is imperative that people seek early help for OCD. Meanwhile, OCD may also have a remitting and relapsing course.
Can OCD come in waves?
OCD is a remitting and relapsing condition. People with symptoms can be symptom free for an extended period of time and then remit to having the illness again. Some people with OCD find their own mechanisms to cope with as go for years together without treatment but leading a suboptimal life.
What are the 4 types of OCD?
OCD can be of various types. It can a subtype which is related to checking ( doors, light switches, gas etc) due to repeated doubts about leaving them on or unlocked.
It can be a subtype where a person does not feel completely clean and dirt free leading to compulsive handwashing and cleaning. It can be a subtype where one needs to be exactly orderly and perfect and cannot relax when something is not in order. It can involve counting in certain numbers to undo a distressing thought.
It can be a subtype where one gets distressing images that the loved one has died. This may lead to checking on the person etc. It may involve a type where one has an urge to shout, swear or behave aggressively and takes all precautions to make sure that does not happen.
Is mild OCD normal?
Up to 95% of the population has admitted to having some kind of obsessional thought or compulsive ritual at some point. It can be normal and you do not require treatment if it is not distressing or interfering with your life and functioning.
What does severe OCD look like?
Severe OCD does not differ from mild OCD in the nature of symptoms. However, it differs in the amount of time spent on the symptoms, the amount of distress it causes and the level to which functioning is affected as the result of the symptoms.
How common is OCD?
In Western countries there have been studies which have shown the prevalence rate of OCD to be 1 to 2 %. There are not many studies that look at prevalence of OCD in India but the studies that have been done show a slightly lower rate of 0.5% or so. There do not appear to be major differences in occurrence of OCD in men and women and they appear to be affected more of less equally.
Are all people with OCD clean?
It is a myth that all people with OCD are clean. Some people with OCD may have thoughts of fear of contamination which may urge them to keep washing their hands repeatedly or keep cleaning surfaces repeatedly. This does not automatically mean that people with OCD are clean.