OCD or Obsessive-compulsive Disorder is a pattern of unreasonable fears, known as obsessions, and thoughts that can lead to repetitive behaviors, referred as compulsions. These compulsions and obsessions may interfere with your daily activities thus causing significant anxiety and distress.
When you try to stop or ignore your obsessions, the effort only increases the stress and anxiety. Consequently, you are unknowingly forced to perform the compulsive acts in an urge to relieve your stress. In spite of continuous efforts to ignore or avoid vexing urges or thoughts, they continue to return again and again. This causes to a more ritualistic behavior, known as vicious circle of OCD.
Generally, OCD revolves around certain themes, such as a fear of getting contaminated by germs. Now, to alleviate this fear or obsession, you may repeatedly wash your hands with soap.
Symptoms of OCD
Generally, the obsessive compulsive disorder includes both compulsions and obsessions. However, it is also it is quite possible for you to have symptoms of only compulsion or only obsession which may be unreasonable or excessive in nature. But, they may take up huge amount of your time thus interfering with your daily routine work, be it social or professional.
Tests to Diagnose OCD
Your doctor or mental health provider might suggest some tests and exams to help diagnose OCD. These include:
- Lab Tests
These include tests like CBC (complete blood count), check for thyroid function, and screening for drugs and alcohol.
- Physical Exam
This is usually done to help rule out other problems that might be leading to other symptoms. Also, a physical exam is helpful to check for any related complications.
- Psychological Evaluation
Under this procedure for diagnosis, the mental health provider or doctor might enquire about your feelings, thoughts, symptoms, and behavior patterns. The doctor might ask for permission to talk to your friends or family.
Symptoms of OCD
Diagnosing the tendency of OCD is usually a matter of degree. There are various patterns that designate the full-blown disorder. The most common ones, however, are listed below.
- Overzealous Cleaning
This is another category of OCD, referred as the “washers” category. The basic trait is compulsive cleaning. Akin to hand-washing, housecleaning is another way of easing the feeling of impurity or being attacked by germs. Although cleaning is helpful to chase these obsessive thoughts, the relief is not long lasting with an even stronger urge to clean the next time.
You need to seek help if you spend maximum hours a day cleaning. It is a consequence of stopping to clean. You get terribly anxious and fearful if you don’t clean.
Compulsive use of hand sanitizer or hand washing is highly common in OCD patients. The urge rises usually from the fear of getting attacked by germs or from the fear of making others sick or of being immoral or impure.
You need help if you think about germs even after hand-washing, or worry that you are not scrubbing well, or keep irrational fears about disease. The most common action is elaborated hand-washing routines, like needing to wash 5-6 times and getting soap under every nail.
Some OCD patients perform tasks associated with a specific numeric pattern or count to themselves while doing daily chores, like climbing or cleaning stairs. This behavior can also be a result of superstition but it becomes important to seek help if you are nit able to get the numbers out of your head.
- Checking behavior
It is normal and wise as well to double-check once in a while. However, if this habit interferes with the daily routine or becomes a ritual that can’t be done without, you need to visit your doctor or mental health provider. The most common compulsions associated with this form of OCD is returning three, four, or even 20 times to check the front door lock.
People suffering from OCD can take organizing to a different level. Such people want things to look just right, feel just right, be symmetrical with the perfect number. This fussiness is usually driven by obsessions about symmetry and order.
This can be considered as a personality trait only till it is out of preference. OCD enters when this preference turns to a necessity and the want becomes ‘have to’ just to relieve the anxiety.
Wrapping up, OCD is said to exist when your obsessions and compulsions meet the criteria like repetitive behavior or repetitive mental acts that are not relieved even after efforts to neutralize obsessions through other thoughts or actions.