Symptoms, treatment and self-help for OCD
It’s normal, on occasion, to go back and double-check that the iron is unplugged or your car is locked. Unfortunately if you suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours become so excessive they interfere with your daily life. No matter what you do, you can’t seem to shake them. With treatment and self-help strategies, you can unshackle unwanted thoughts and irrational urges and take back control of your life.
What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by uncontrollable, unwanted thoughts and repetitive, ritualised behaviours you feel compelled to perform. If you have OCD, you probably recognise that your obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours are irrational — but even so, you feel unable to resist them and break free. Like a needle getting stuck on an old record, OCD causes the brain to get stuck on a particular thought or urge. For example, you may check the stove 20 times to make sure it’s really turned off, or wash your hands until they’re scrubbed raw.
Recognising obsessions and compulsions
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is an anxiety disorder characterised by unwanted thoughts and repetitive, ritualised behaviours you feel compelled to perform. If you have OCD, you probably recognise that your obsessions and compulsions are irrational — but even so, you feel unable to resist them and break free. Obsessions are involuntary thoughts, images, or impulses that occur continuously in your mind. You don’t want to have these ideas, but you can’t stop them. Unfortunately, these obsessive thoughts are disturbing and distracting. Compulsions are behaviours or rituals that you feel driven to act out again and again. Usually, compulsions are performed in a vain attempt to make obsessions go away.
For example, if you’re afraid of contamination, you might develop elaborate cleaning rituals. However, the relief never lasts. In fact, the obsessive thoughts come back stronger. And the compulsive rituals and behaviours often end up causing anxiety themselves as they become more demanding and time-consuming. This is the vicious cycle of OCD.