Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder in which people have recurring, unwanted thoughts, ideas and sensation (obsessions) or behaviors (compulsions) which they have no control over. The person feels the urge to repeat his behaviors and thoughts. People with OCD may have signs of both obsession and compulsion. Every individual may show these signs but it becomes serious when they start to affect their daily routines and behaviors. The signs may disappear or even worsen with time. People with OCD avoid situations which trigger their anxiety and obsession.
Obsessions are repeated thoughts, urges, ideas, or imaginations that cause anxiety. People with OCD do realize these thoughts are made up by their mind and are unreasonable and try to ignore or suppress such obsessions or offset them with some other thought or action.
Compulsions are repetitive behaviors in response to an obsessive thought. They perform these behaviors to prevent or reduce distress and fear of a situation. In severe situations it becomes almost impossible for the person to carry out a normal routine. The compulsion may bring some relief but the obsession returns and the cycle repeats over and over.
Some most common forms of OCDs found among people are:
Fear of Germs, Contamination and Compulsive Cleansing:
Everyone has a slight fear of germs and contamination which is why we wash our hands before and after eating. People with OCD have an irrational fear of germs and contamination, so to reduce the fear they spend hours cleansing themselves and their surroundings. Constantly washing hands and cleaning the house is a sign of OCD. Cleaning can help chase these obsessive thoughts away but the relief does not last, and the urge to clean is often even stronger the next time.
Checking and Rechecking
we all have the habit of checking all the light switches and gas knobs before we leave the house but it becomes a sign of having OCD when you keep on rechecking everything to the point that you are late for work. It will eventually lead to a behavioural change where you constantly have a fear of leaving a switch on and it keeps on bothering you.
Fear of Violence
Being scared of getting mugged or some other misfortune is a normal behavior, the more we try to avoid these thoughts the more they pop up in our head and this is true in the case of OCD. They might try to suppress these thoughts but it ends up affecting their behavior for instance preventing to go to the park due to the fear of getting mugged.
Unwanted Sexual Thoughts
Recurring unwanted thoughts about inappropriate or taboo sexual behavior frequently occur in OCD. They imagine groping their coworker, question their sexuality, and think about harming someone. Rather than rationalizing these thoughts people think these thoughts are terrible, why no one else has them, what do they mean about me and they end up avoiding their coworkers and friends.
Ordering and Arranging
People with OCD take organization to a level of perfection. This fussiness is driven by obsessions about order and symmetry. They ‘have to’ have things in order, unlike the feeling of wanting to make things in order. They also put objects, such as books in a certain order, or arrange household items “just so,” or in a symmetric fashion. Something out of order tics them off and they have to make it right or else it keeps on bothering them.
Reassurance is a way through which people with OCD try to soothe their anxiety. They constantly ask their friends about what they think and if everything looks fine. Everyone asks their friends for reassurance but this becomes a sign of OCD when you catch yourself asking the same question multiple times or when your friend points it out.