OCD: Symptoms, Signs & Risk Factors

Written by Ann Pietrangelo

OCD: Symptoms, Signs & Risk Factors

We all double or triple check something on occasion. We forget if we’ve locked the door or wonder if we’ve left the water running, and we want to be certain. Some of us are perfectionists, so we go over our work several times to make sure it’s right. That’s not abnormal behavior. But if you have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), you feel compelled to act out certain rituals repeatedly, even if you don’t want to — and even if it complicates your life unnecessarily.

Obsessions are the worrisome thoughts that cause anxiety. Compulsions are the behaviors you use to relieve that anxiety.

Signs and Symptoms of OCD

Signs of OCD usually become apparent in childhood or early adulthood. It tends to begin slowly and become more intense as you mature. For many people, symptoms come and go, but it’s usually a lifelong problem. In severe cases, it has a profound impact on quality of life. Without treatment, it can become quite disabling.

Some common obsessions associated with OCD include:

  • anxiety about germs and dirt, or fear of contamination
  • need for symmetry and order
  • concern that your thoughts or compulsions will harm others, feeling you can keep other people safe by performing certain rituals
  • worry about discarding things of little or no value
  • disturbing thoughts or images about yourself or others

Some of the behaviors that stem from these obsessive thoughts include:

  • excessive hand washing, repetitive showering, unnecessary household cleaning
  • continually arranging and reordering things to get them just right
  • checking the same things over and over even though you know you’ve already checked them
  • hoarding unnecessary material possessions like old newspapers and used wrapping paper rather than throwing them away
  • counting or repeating a particular word or phrase. Performing a ritual like having to touch something a certain number of times or take a particular number of steps
  • focusing on positive thoughts to combat the bad thoughts

Social Signs: What to Look For

Some people with OCD manage to mask their behaviors so they’re less obvious. For others, social situations trigger compulsions. Some things you might notice in a person with OCD:

  • raw hands from too much hand washing
  • fear of shaking hands or touching things in public
  • avoidance of certain situations that trigger obsessive thoughts
  • intense anxiety when things are not orderly or symmetrical
  • need to check the same things over and over
  • constant need for reassurance
  • inability to break routine
  • counting for no reason or repeating the same word, phrase, or action
  • at least an hour each day is spent on unwanted thoughts or rituals
  • having trouble getting to work on time or keeping to a schedule due to rituals

Since OCD often begins in childhood, teachers may be the first to notice signs in school. A child who is compelled to count, for instance, may not be able to complete the ritual. The stress can cause angry outbursts and other misbehaviors. One who is afraid of germs may be fearful of playing with other children. A child with OCD may fear they are crazy. Obsessions and compulsions can interfere with schoolwork and lead to poor academic performance.

Children with OCD may have trouble expressing themselves. They may be inflexible and upset when plans change. Their discomfort in social situations can make it difficult to make friends and maintain friendships. In an attempt to mask their compulsions, children with OCD may withdraw socially. Isolation increases the risk for depression.

Risk Factors and Complications

The cause of OCD is not known. It seems to run in families, but there may be environmental factors involved. Most of the time, symptoms of OCD occur before age 25.

If you have OCD, you’re also at increased risk of other anxiety disorders, including major depression and social phobias.

Just because you like things a certain way or arrange your spice rack in alphabetical order, it doesn’t mean you have OCD. However, if obsessive thoughts or ritualistic behavior feels out of your control or are interfering with your life, it’s time to seek treatment.

Treatment usually involves psychotherapy, behavioral modification therapy, or psychiatric medications, alone or in combination. According to Harvard Medical School, with treatment, approximately 10 percent of patients fully recover and about half of patients show some improvement.

Original post: http://www.healthline.com/health/ocd/social-signs

Advertisements

OCD Explained

By:

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/1b/OCD_handwash.jpg/737px-OCD_handwash.jpg

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized by repetitive thoughts, impulses, or images that are intrusive and inappropriate and cause anxiety or distress, or repetitive behaviors that the person feels driven to perform in response to an obsession or rigid rules that must be applied. Those suffering from this condition recognize that the obsessions are a product of their own mind. The obsessions or compulsions are time consuming or interfere with role functioning.

Click here for the original article: http://scitechconnect.elsevier.com/ocd-explained/

OCD Explained

By:

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/1b/OCD_handwash.jpg/737px-OCD_handwash.jpg

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized by repetitive thoughts, impulses, or images that are intrusive and inappropriate and cause anxiety or distress, or repetitive behaviors that the person feels driven to perform in response to an obsession or rigid rules that must be applied. Those suffering from this condition recognize that the obsessions are a product of their own mind. The obsessions or compulsions are time consuming or interfere with role functioning.

Click here for the original article: http://scitechconnect.elsevier.com/ocd-explained/

What is Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)?

Original article: http://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd/about-obsessive-compulsive-disorder/#.Vd9PBX0jnm4

 

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is described as an anxiety disorder. The condition has two main parts: obsessions and compulsions.

Obsessions

Obsessions are unwelcome thoughts, images, urges or doubts that repeatedly appear in your mind; for example, thinking that you have been contaminated by dirt and germs, or experiencing a sudden urge to hurt someone.

These obsessions are often frightening or seem so horrible that you can’t share them with others. The obsession interrupts your other thoughts and makes you feel very anxious.

I get unwanted thoughts all through the day, which is very distressing and affects my ability to interact with others and concentrate on my studies and work.

Compulsions

Compulsions are repetitive activities that you feel you have to do. This could be something like repeatedly checking a door to make sure it is locked or repeating a specific phrase in your head to prevent harm coming to a loved one.

The aim of a compulsion is to try and deal with the distress caused by the obsessive thoughts and relieve the anxiety you are feeling. However, the process of repeating these compulsions is often distressing and any relief you feel is often short-lived.

Getting ready for each day involves so much hand washing, mental rituals, and doing things in the same order everyday… Sometimes, I feel like staying in bed and avoiding the day.

The OCD cycle

The diagram below shows how obsessions and compulsions are connected
in an OCD cycle.

OCD Pg5

Living with OCD

Although many people experience minor obsessions (e.g. worrying about leaving the gas on, or if the door is locked) and compulsions (e.g. rituals, like avoiding the cracks in the pavement), these don’t significantly interfere with their daily lives, or are short-lived.

If you experience OCD, your obsessions and compulsions will cause you considerable fear and distress. They will also take up a significant amount of time, and disrupt your ability to carry on with your day-to-day to life, including doing daily chores, going to work, or maintaining relationships with friends and family.

Many people with OCD experience feelings of shame and loneliness which often stop them from seeking help, particularly if they experience distressing thoughts about subjects such as religion, sex or violence.

This means that many people try to cope with OCD alone, until the symptoms are so severe they can’t hide them anymore.

OCD is also known to have a close association with depression, and some people find obsessions appear or get worse when they are depressed.

What’s it like living with OCD?

Watch James, Pat and Nicola talk about what living with OCD is like, and ways they have learned to cope.

What are the common signs of OCD?

Although everyone will have their own experiences, there are several
common obsessions and compulsions that occur as part of OCD.

Common obsessions

The three most common themes are:

  • unwanted thoughts about harm or aggression
  • unwanted sexual thoughts
  • unwanted blasphemous thoughts

Obsessions often appear closely linked to your individual situation. For example, if you are a loving parent, you may fear doing harm to a child and if you are religious, you may have blasphemous thoughts.

I have OCD harming thoughts and the compulsion to carry them out, which is absolutely terrifying to say the least.

Some examples of obsessions include:

• a fear of failing to prevent harm – e.g. worrying that you have left
the cooker on and might cause a fire
• imagining doing harm – e.g. thinking that you are going to push
someone in front of a train
• intrusive sexual thoughts – e.g. worrying about abusing a child
• religious or blasphemous thoughts – e.g. having thoughts that are
against your religious beliefs
• fear of contamination – e.g. from dirt and germs in a toilet
• an excessive concern with order or symmetry – e.g. worrying if objects
are not in order
• illness or physical symptoms – e.g. thinking that you have cancer
when you have no symptoms.

Common compulsions

Common compulsions include physical compulsions, e.g. washing or checking, or mental compulsions, e.g. repeating a specific word or phrase.

I have to keep checking things three times and have to have certain items on me to help me feel safe.

Some examples might be:

  • repeating actions – e.g. touching every light switch in the house every time you leave or enter the house
  • touching – e.g. only buying things in the supermarket that you have touched with both hands
  • focusing on a number – e.g. having to buy three of everything
  • washing or cleaning – e.g. having to wash your hands very frequently in  order to feel clean
  • checking – e.g. reading through an email ten times before sending it
  • ordering or arranging – e.g. keeping food organised by colour in the fridge
  • repeating a specific word or phrase – e.g. repeating someone’s name in order to prevent something bad happening to them
  • praying – e.g. repeating a prayer again and again whenever you hear about an accident
  • counteracting or neutralising a negative thought with a positive one – e.g. replacing a bad word with a good one.

Avoidance

You might find that some objects or experiences make your obsessions or
compulsions worse, and you try to avoid them as a result. For example,
if you fear contamination, you might avoid eating and drinking anywhere
except in your own home. Avoiding things can have a major impact on
your life.

OCD means that I miss out on things because I [stay in] to try to protect myself from the stress. It’s sunny outside and I want to go out, but I know I probably won’t.