Worries, doubts, superstitious beliefs all are common in everyday life. However, when they become so excessive such as hours of hand washing or make no sense at all such as driving around and around the block to check that an accident didn’t occur then a diagnosis of OCD is made. In OCD, it is as though the brain gets stuck on a particular thought or urge and just can’t let go. People with OCD often say the symptoms feel like a case of mental hiccups that won’t go away. OCD is a medical brain disorder that causes problems in information processing. It is not your fault or the result of a “weak” or unstable personality.
Before the arrival of modern medications and cognitive behavior therapy, OCD was generally thought to be untreatable. Most people with OCD continued to suffer, despite years of ineffective psychotherapy..
OCD usually involves having both obsessions and compulsions, though a person with OCD may sometimes have only one or the other.
< Contamination fears of germs, dirt, etc. - Washing
< Imagining having harmed self or others repeating
< Imagining losing control of aggressive urges - Checking
< Intrusive sexual thoughts or urges - touching
< Excessive religious or moral doubt - Counting
< Forbidden thoughts -Ordering/arranging
< A need to have things “just so” Hoarding or saving
< A need to tell, ask, confess Praying
OCD symptoms can occur in people of all ages. Not all Obsessive-Compulsive behaviors represent an illness. Some rituals (e.g., bedtime songs, religious practices) are a welcome part of daily life. Normal worries, such as contamination fears, may increase during times of stress, such as when someone in the family is sick or dying. Only when symptoms persist, make no sense, cause much distress, or interfere with functioning do they need clinical attention.
Obsessions are thoughts, images, or impulses that occur over and over again and feel out of your control. The person does not want to have these ideas, finds them disturbing and intrusive, and usually recognizes that they don’t really make sense. People with OCD may worry excessively about dirt and germs and be obsessed with the idea that they are contaminated or may contaminate others. Or they may have obsessive fears of having
inadvertently harmed someone else (perhaps while pulling the car out of the driveway), even though they usually know this is not realistic.
People with OCD typically try to make their obsessions go away by performing compulsions. Compulsions are acts the person performs over and over again, often according to certain “rules.” People with an obsession about contamination may wash constantly to the point that their hands become raw and inflamed. A person may repeatedly check that she has turned off the stove or iron because of an obsessive fear of burning the house down. She may have to count certain objects over and over because of an obsession about losing them..
3. Other features of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
OCD symptoms cause distress, take up a lot of time (more than an hour a day), or significantly interfere with the person’s work, social life, or relationships.
Most individuals with OCD recognize at some point that their obsessions are coming from within their own minds and are not just excessive worries about real problems, and that the compulsions they perform are excessive or unreasonable.