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Thursday, 26 April 2012 09:19

Are you victim of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder!

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Excessive repetition of certain activity is not a normal habit but indication of obsessive-compulsive disorder, a mental health problem.

ocdNo doubt, hand washing before eating and after visiting a toilet is a good habit as it keeps germs away. What do you think when a person repeatedly washes his/her hands it normal? Similarly locking door while going outside and one-time check can be understood but what do you mean if the person repeatedly checks for door lock?

Though washing hand, cleaning, checking and counting are some good habits, but when they are repeated unnecessarily it indicates an abnormal mental condition of a person.
Habits are known to improve person’s skill whereas its irrational repetition disrupts person’s life. Medically such abnormal repetitive behaviour pattern is termed as “Obsessive-compulsive disorder” (OCD).

Understanding obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is an anxiety disorder characterized by unwanted and repeated thoughts, feelings, ideas, sensations or behavior (obsession) in otherwise healthy person, which is expressed in the form of certain activity (compulsion). Compulsion in form of activity or repetitive manner is must; otherwise it can produce uneasiness, fear, worry or doubt in a patient. Compulsion helps the sufferer to relieve anxiety.

Debilitating behavioural manner of OCD sufferer remains engaged in continuous cycles of fear and apprehension. Person has increased sense of comprehended duty. Obsessive thoughts orders that something bad will happen if the action is not performed and hence compulsion is resulted to avoid the situation that triggers obsession.  

A sufferer identifies that these intrusive thoughts are irrational, time-consuming, and not associated with reality. However, they are obligated to perform compulsive action to avoid fear and panic. Relief from compulsion is temporary and thoughts can revert again. Such realization of reality but inability to control the action emotionally disturbs the person. The OCD sufferer shows typical personality traits such as avoiding risk taking, careful preparation, going into detail, and increased sense of responsibility.


  • Exact cause for OCD is still not known but some studies link OCD with Head injury, infections, and brain abnormalities.
  • Serotonin, a neurotransmitter abnormality,
  • Genetic predisposition can be cause of symptoms of OCD.
  • OCD may be related to “Tourette Syndrome in few."

Symptoms and signs of OCD
In most diagnosed patient of OCD have both obsessions and compulsion, however, some people experience just one or other.

Obsession:  Unreasonable and excessive feeling or thoughts that persist in spite of attempting to neglect them, the common obsessive thoughts include

  • Fear of contamination- patient fear of being contaminated by germs or dirt, even by other person
  • Fear of causing Harm to own or others
  • Violent thoughts and images or Disturbing sexually explicit
  • Fear of God-Excessive concentration on religion or moral thoughts and ideas
  • Fear of losing- important things or person
  • Order and symmetry: the idea that everything must line up “just right.”
  • Superstitions; considering something  lucky or unlucky excessively

Compulsive behaviours
Compulsion: Performing unpleasant or irrational tasks repeatedly to reduce anxiety, the common compulsive action include:

  • Excessive double-checking of things, such as locks, appliances, and switches.
  • Repeatedly checking in on loved ones to make sure they’re safe.
  • Counting, tapping, repeating certain words, or doing other senseless things to reduce anxiety.
  • Spending a lot of time washing or cleaning.
  • Ordering or arranging things “just so.”
  • Praying excessively or engaging in rituals triggered by religious fear.
  • Accumulating “junk” such as old newspapers or empty food containers.

OCD is detected with a peculiar symptom patterns described by the person. Severity of OCD symptoms can be identified with standardized rating scale such as Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive scale.

Just because you have obsessive thoughts or perform compulsive behaviours does NOT mean that you have obsessive-compulsive disorder. With OCD, these thoughts and behaviours cause tremendous distress, take up a lot of time, and interfere with your daily life and relationships.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
CBT is the most effective psychotherapy in controlling symptoms of OCD. As a part of therapy patient is exposed to a condition that evokes repetitive obsessive feelings for several times and trained about how gradually he can resist the impulse that triggers compulsion, with increased tolerance to resultant anxiety.
Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), a type of psychotherapy has also found helpful for OCD sufferers.
CBT helps to reduce OCD-related anxiety, stress and resolving inner conflicts of a person.

Antidepressants such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) are first line of treatment for reducing symptoms of OCD.

Self-help involves taking self-care like practising relaxation, adopting healthy habits, avoiding alcohol intake, getting enough sleep, and joining support group. Such activities improve personality and reduce anxiety. Challenging obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviour by shifting your focus of attention, or anticipating compulsive urges before they arise also help person to control compulsion.

New approach
Radomsky, a professor in the Department of Psychology and the Director of the Centre for Clinical Research in Health at Concordia with his colleague develop a new approach for managing OCD.
Radomsky says, “Refusal rates for ERP are unacceptably high, which is why we need to develop a new and refined treatment that specifically works for compulsive checking."

New approach treatment stresses on how people think rather than on what they do. The proposed treatment is targeted suffers faulty beliefs of undue responsibility and dangers they perceive about not doing compulsive activity. They are trained about how to restore confidence in the memory and reduce self-doubt or guilt to normalize the inflated responsibility. Give a patient a new insight into how to perceive themselves and world around.

Don’t take your repetitive behaviour manner as normal but act on it immediately.


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Read 4632 times Last modified on Thursday, 26 April 2012 13:20


  • Comment Link Chinedu Friday, 27 April 2012 22:23 posted by Chinedu

    The number of OCD cases in our society today is under-reported. Often people don't even realize they are having Obsessive Compulsive Disorder until they have descended so deep into the vicious circle of the disorder, and at this stage it becomes a clinical case and even more difficult to treat.

  • Comment Link Monisha Friday, 27 April 2012 20:58 posted by Monisha

    It is so good to visit and read all the great information you provide.
    Thanks a lot.

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