What is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?

Girl suffering through Obsessive Compulsive Disorder holding her head

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a mental disorder that produces recurring and unwanted thoughts (obsessions) in a person urging him to perform a certain act/acts over and over again (compulsions). A person with OCD may experience either obsessions or compulsions or a combination of both.

Since the definition of OCD is quite loose, it is often confused with repetitive habits. However, there exists a fine line between the two that can help us in the differentiation.

Every person tends to experience repeated thoughts and habits but for a person having OCD, these become a cause of despair and stress and he feels powerless to put an end to this. These thoughts or actions may even begin interfering with his work or social life and start taking up too much of his time.

What are the Symptoms?

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder has wide-ranging symptoms since it comes in many forms. Therefore, the symptoms have been classified under several categories:

woman cleaning
  • Cleaning- constantly indulging in cleaning and washing rituals, worrying about germs, washing hands unnecessarily, avoiding possible sources of contamination, worrying about sickness.
  • Ordering- constant urge of arranging things into symmetry, feeling uneasy when items aren’t aligned, organization rituals, counting rituals, needing symmetry in daily activities (if you scratch the left wrist, you must also scratch the right one).
  • Checking- unnecessarily checking for locks, switches, doors, etc., checking for diseases in oneself, constant feeling of forgetting something, self-attacking for forgetting things.
  • Intrusive Thoughts- ruminating over negative and unwanted thoughts, obsessing over a certain line of thoughts, feeling overwhelmed, visualizing disturbing things

What are Obsessions and Compulsions? 

People with OCD either experience unwanted obsessions (thoughts) or compulsions (actions) or both.

Obsessive thoughts are disturbing and disrupt the normal life of a person. A few of the extreme ones may include:

  • Suspicious thoughts about a partner
  • Thoughts about contamination
  • Thoughts about self-hurt
  • Thoughts about body sensations like breathing, blinking etc.

Obsessive actions are irritating and cause a feeling of helplessness and powerlessness in the individual. A few of the extreme ones may include:

  • Avoiding touching things fearing they’re dirty
  • Ordering oneself to perform certain acts to prevent imaginary consequences 
  • Arranging objects in lines
  • Doing tasks in a particular order or a particular number of times

What are the Causes?

There are no definite causes known to cause this order. However, several theories have been formulated such as:

  • It may be caused due to hereditary factors
  • It may be caused due to hormonal changes in the body
  • It may be caused due to a stressful daily routine
  • It may be caused due to chemical or structural abnormalities in the brain
  • It may be caused due to a traumatic event 

It is important to note that none of these proposed reasons have been confirmed to cause OCD and it may originate due to reasons not mentioned above, or even due to no reasons at all.

What are some OCD-Related Disorders?

Girl suffering through OCD

Some of the commonly known disorders that give rise to obsessions and compulsions are as follows:

  • Trichotillomania- obsession with pulling out hair
  • Body Dysmorphia- obsession with self-body image
  • Hypochondria- obsessive thoughts about physical illness
  • Hoarding disorder- unhealthy obsession regarding collecting/hoarding items 

What is the Treatment?

The most effective treatment to cure OCD is psychotherapy, more specifically CBT i.e., Cognitive Behavioral Therapy wherein the person is exposed to an object that triggers him and made to learn how to control his urges to perform obsessive rituals. This may be challenging in the beginning but it ensures life-long comfort.

The other line of treatment includes medications like anti-depressants and mind-relaxants. However, this is only incorporated for those having severe OCD symptoms.

In today’s world, there is immense need for awareness and acknowledgement about this mental disorder since the term ‘OCD’ is used casually quite often. It is important to know that OCD is much more than fondness for neatness and cleanliness but it is a battle for the one facing it. So let us stop stigmatizing and being ignorant towards this battle.

It is only when we acknowledge our foes that we become capable of eradicating them!

Written by Aadvika

Categories: Blogs

1 Comment

Tushar Mudai · 31 May 2021 at 3:58 pm

Brilliantly explained!

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