Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
OCD is an abbreviation for obsessive compulsive disorder which means a disorder of compulsions which are obsessive. In its nature it is an anxiety related disorder and it is intimately entwined with anxiety.
Obsessive compulsive disorder is experienced by about 2% of the population and most people have experienced some obsessive compulsive behaviour in their life at some point even though they would never fall under the category of a person as having an obsessive or compulsive disorder.
For those who are not familiar with OCD it would be like seeing a warning sign that says wet paint and having a need to touch it and then thinking to yourself, why did I do that? For those people that suffer from OC disorders it is many times worse than the above description even at a low level.
Sufferers of OCD regularly experience compulsions and obsessions all at the same time along with fluctuating anxiety on a regular and ongoing basis of every day. OCD behaviour could be classed as mild, medium or severe.
You would not want to be in the head of someone who has severe chronic OC disorder as it is one of the most disabling of all the anxiety related disorders and it’s an all time consuming occupation which will take up most of the person’s daily life with frequent rituals and activities of an obsessive compulsive and repetitive nature.
The obsessions that are experienced are always unwanted and intrusive. Intrusion is the key word to describe the way they appear into the sufferers thoughts.
These thoughts are troublesome and disturbing for the sufferer and can include imagery, impulses and urges which are often to drive a specific behaviour to lead to a specific action or outcome. Their appearance can be instantaneous and cause severe anxiety and distress especially if they are harm related either to oneself or someone else.
OCD is a repetitive and ritualistic disorder, which appears into the awareness or mind of the sufferer in the form of urges to carry out a task or a chore in a repetitive or obsessive and frantic or controlled way.
Often these intrusions of thoughts are completely irrational and at times make no sense except there is an element of needing to close or complete a cycle or a circuit of thought to finalise or conclude a sequence, a ritual or behaviour.
These actions must be carried out and any attempt at resisting or ignoring them can be overwhelming to say the least. For some people they are literally explosive if ignored or resisted. Ignoring or resisting will result in severe sickness or anxiety including stomach turning butterflies, adrenaline, fear, anticipation, apprehension with the accompanying electricity and chemicals running throughout the body which are the same things you would experience in a fight or flight scenario or anxiety episode.
All sufferers of OCD at some time will attempt to find some kind of balance point or negotiation where they will meet the demands of the intrusive thoughts on some level by accomplishing the ritual or the task or urge along with the internal chatter or self calming or reassuring talk to find an agreeable and compromising or acceptance point with the urge and its demands.
Attempting to block or stop them will certainly make them worse and for some people it almost feels like an external entity taking them over and forcing them to do certain obsessive compulsive things.
Obviously it is not an entity, there is no such thing but it feels like that because of its strength in force or its persistence to intrude and invade the sufferers mind over conscious will.
There is no denying, resisting or defying the OCD impulse or urge. It will get you every time!
There are many different types of intrusions but they are all the same by nature because they appear either to make something happen or to drive you to behave in a certain way or to carry out a certain action.
Whichever way you look at it, it is a specifically appearing impulse or urge/thought that appears for a task or action to be carried out. Once the thought or the urge is completed, there is a reduction in the way the sufferer feels which is usually an anxiety reduction or release from it in one form or another.
Completing the urge or the task whatever that may be, reduces or temporarily eliminates the intrusions or the urges until they reappear later. Each sufferer will differ in duration and frequency and that includes the behaviour or actions but they’re all the same by nature which is repetitive and ritualistic, obsessive and compulsive with anxiety rushes if they are ignored.
One of the most common forms of obsessive compulsive disorder is thinking about germs and bacteria which in reality is a threat to every human body, the difference with the OCD sufferer is their focus if fixed on it with a hyper vigilance to die for!
You wouldn’t wish it on your worst enemy.
This type of OCD results in hand washing excessively and constant avoidance of any place that is visually dirty, where germs and bacteria can breathe such as public toilets, kitchens and anywhere that is prone to dirt.
People with this type of OCD, related to germs often have a hyper vigilance which is a super high awareness of anywhere that could have germs, such as door handles, handrails or any item that is used in public like public telephones or even shaking someone’s hand.
The hand washing which is repetitive is a way of coping with the anxiety that is associated with germs.
Within the realm of OCD behaviour you will find that out of 100 people, each sufferer will have their own unique combination of obsessive and compulsive behaviours and all would be slightly different but similar in nature at the same time.
What one sufferer experiences, another may not and vice versa.
The most common forms of obsessions centre on fears of contamination or infection, fear or anxiety of causing some kind of harm to other people or breakage and damage to objects.
Another very common OCD behaviour or activity is orderliness, symmetry and preciseness or accuracy in the alignment of household items, furniture or kitchen utensils, in fact any object around the home.
Some OCD sufferers have the most incredibly orderly and aligned spotless home where everything has to be in its rightful place precisely aligned and sequenced where nothing is out of place. Often friends or family who do not fully understand the obsessive behaviour will twist or move an item out of place just for fun, however this will result in an anxiousness to address the out of place item with a sense of urgency and immediacy in its correction which can be quite amusing for onlookers but within the mind and feelings of the sufferer it is incredibly distressing and uncomfortable.
Compulsions within OCD behaviour include excessive cleaning, repetitive checking light switches, door knobs and locks, counting excessively and then returning back to the beginning and counting again until a certain point is reached which is unique to each OCD counter.
Other rituals can include clothes and dressing rituals.
For some people carrying out and completing a task or a ritual is not enough, it doesn’t satisfy therefore the complete task or ritual has to be completely started again and this can go on several hours and can result in exhaustion and fatigue for the sufferer.
More darker or sinister OCD behaviour is often related to ritualistic and/or repetitive self harming behaviours which can involve razorblades and cutting oneself to produce a release of anxiety and again is related to guilt, shame or self punishment.
Other darker forms of OCD can be the intrusion of thoughts to harm loved ones with knives. The point here is, the OCD sufferer with these types of intrusions will never actually hurt anyone and the mere thought that appears creates horror and dread.
Others have a problem with visually seeing sharp implements which include knives, forks, pins or needles including scissors which have to be placed out of reach or covered over and hidden to ease the anxiety.
Sometimes the intrusion to harm someone with a knife is specifically appearing or designed for the state that it creates, not for the actual deed to be carried out The state that appears such as horror, shame or guilt is what is required.
The drives, forces or urges are in most cases a way of producing states of mind or a state of awareness and it is this state of mind or awareness that is required for the sufferer to be in.
The mind has a way of putting the sufferer into a certain state and that is one of the driving forces behind OCD, that certain states of mind have to be experienced such as a state of guilt or shame, disgust, fear, anxiety, hyper vigilance and so on.
Each behaviour or ritual will create a unique state of mind in each person and that is the reason for the intrusion.
If the mind believes that the sufferer of OCD must have a certain states then it will go to great lengths to make that happen. (Please see the section on panic attacks to understand this process further).
OCD usually starts in early age but it can start at any age. Usually it will start with one or two intrusions, one of two little irrational behaviours which become frequent and repetitive and then ritualistic and over a period of time will grow and evolve into something more advanced and because these behaviours are not understood by everyday members of the public they will often be hidden and shrouded in secrecy wherever possible.
People become embarrassed or ashamed and try to hide their OCD tics and behaviours. This can go on for several years before the OCD sufferer seeks professional help and that is usually because things become so overwhelming or is severely affecting their life and their loved ones.
OCD is driven by one thing and that is unconscious stored data. However it can be triggered off by anything in life.
This information is specifically for those who are looking for information on OCD who are trying to understand it due to a family member or loved one behaving in a way which is raising concerns.
In its very mildest form, most people have experienced little bits and pieces of obsessive behaviour and most people could relate to OCD at the most basic level but there is however a big difference with the full OCD which is not to be confused as OCD is a very serious mental health problem which can be corrected.
OCD is more common than people think.
If you suffer from OCD or you are concerned over someone who has it, please email us below for advice. We can provide you with a list of expert therapists that can remove this dreaded disorder.
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