Obsessive Compulsive Disorder And Its Effect On Life
Obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, involves anxious thoughts or rituals one feels and can’t control. . For many years, OCD was thought to be rare. The actual number of people with OCD was hidden, because people would hide their problem to avoid embarrassment. Some recent studies show that as many as 3 million Americans ages 18 to 54 may have OCD at any one time. This is about 2.3% of the people in this age group. It strikes men and women in approximately equal numbers and usually first appears in childhood, adolescence, or early adulthood. One-third of adults with OCD report having experienced their first symptoms as children. The course of the disease is variable. Symptoms may come and go, they may ease over time, or they can grow progressively worse. If someone has OCD, they may be plagued by persistent, unwelcome thoughts or images, or by the urgent need to engage in certain rituals. They may be obsessed with germs or dirt, so they wash their hands over and over. They may be filled with doubt and feel the need to check things repeatedly. They may have frequent thoughts of violence, and fear that they will harm people close to them. They may spend long periods touching things or counting; and may be pre-occupied by order or symmetry; or may have persistent thoughts of performing sexual acts that are repulsive to them; or they may be troubled by thoughts that are against their religious beliefs. OCD is a very serious disorder that contains obsessions constantly being played out in ones mind, compulsions used to try and counteract these obsessions, and various treatments used to fight it.
Obsessions are unwanted ideas or impulses that repeatedly well up in the mind of a person with OCD. These are thoughts and ideas that the sufferer cannot stop thinking about. A sufferer will almost always obsess over something which he or she is most afraid of. Common ideas include persistent fears that harm may come to self or a loved one, an unreasonable concern with becoming contaminated, or an excessive need to do things correctly or perfectly. Again and again, the individual experiences a disturbing thought, such as, “My hands may be contaminated — I must wash them” or “I may have left the gas on” or “I am going to injure my child.” These thoughts tend to be intrusive, unpleasant, and produce a high degree of anxiety. Sometimes the obsessions are of a violent or a sexual nature, or concern illness. People with OCD who obsess over hurting themselves or others are actually less likely to do so than the average person. Obsessions are typically automatic, frequent, distressing, and difficult to control or put an end to by themselves. With these reoccurring obsessions continuously being played in the sufferers mind, they start performing repetitive acts that reassure them that their hands aren’t dirty, or the gas for the stove is turned of. This response to their obsession is called a compulsion.
In response to their obsessions, most people with OCD resort to repetitive behaviors called compulsions. Obsessive thoughts make people with OCD feel nervous and afraid. They try to get rid of these feelings by performing certain behaviors according to “rules” that they make up for themselves. The most common of these are washing and checking. Other compulsive behaviors include counting, repeating, hoarding, and endlessly rearranging objects in an effort to keep them in precise alignment with each other. Cognitive problems, such as mentally repeating phrases, list making, or checking, are also common. These behaviors generally are intended to ward off harm to the person with OCD or others. Some people with OCD have regimented rituals while others have rituals that are complex and changing. Performing rituals may give the person with OCD some relief from anxiety, but it is only temporary. A lot of healthy people can identify with some of the symptoms of OCD, such as checking the stove several times before leaving the house. But for people with OCD, such activities consume at least an hour a day, are very distressing, and interfere with daily life. At their worst, these rituals can be