Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or OCD, has become an offhand trend in society today. People reference it in normal conversation constantly. For example, if an individual runs around cleaning their apartment for a friend that has shown up suddenly, he or she may jokingly say ‘I have such OCD.’ There are several instances of using this disorder in a light-hearted fashion, but those actually suffering from it know that OCD can be quite debilitating. It is a chronic disorder made up of obsessive thoughts and behaviors, which are driven by fear. It can control someone’s entire life, and must be treated aggressively.
One of the key components of OCD is obsession. A person who suffers from this disorder will experience continuous thoughts or urges that bring them a great deal of anxiety. Some examples of obsessive thoughts are a constant fear of germs or contamination (hence why many with OCD obsessively cleanse themselves,) anxiety surrounding anything not in order or in perfect symmetry, and encroaching aggressive thoughts. Side effects of obsessive thought processes include hoarding because of the fear of losing things, physical wear due to being in a constant state of stress, and self harm.
The other component of OCD is compulsion. Those experiencing compulsions related to this disorder take action based on irrational fear. These compulsions are in response to the obsessive thoughts, seen as attempts to make the thoughts go away. Some examples of common compulsions are excessive body washing, constantly ensuring things are arranged in a precise manner, repeating actions over and over again, checking things constantly, and continuous counting (or other mental rituals to counteract obsessive thought processes.)
OCD is woefully misunderstood in this country, and there are a number of myths associated with it. For example, many people believe that those with OCD are simply ‘neat freaks.’ This is untrue, as those who are labeled ‘neat freaks’ have control over this personality trait. Additionally, those with OCD are not always clean. Another myth about this disorder is that it is only diagnosed in women. OCD is diagnosed equally in people of all genders and ethnic backgrounds.
Those diagnosed with OCD can be treated in a number of ways, but more severe cases tend to call for a combination of psychotherapy and medication. Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors and Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors are both used as medication in the treatment of OCD. They can reduce symptoms if ingested in doses higher than they would be when treating depression. Cognitive behavioral therapy, additionally, is the main therapeutic method of OCD treatment. It is focused on identifying negative or intrusive thoughts and conditioning oneself to challenge said thoughts.
Overall, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a serious condition that is quite common, but must be treated at the first sign of distress.