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OCD-The Doubting disease
13 Jan 2022
OCD-The Doubting disease image

During the recent pandemic-affected era, mental health issues are on the rise because people have been experiencing different problems all over the world. During this time, there has been a reported increase in the number of people, who were earlier diagnosed with OCD. These people are currently undergoing various difficulties in their day-to-day life. So what exactly is this disorder?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is when a person experiences excessive thoughts about repeating actions involving an activity. These obsessions lead to a person carrying out repetitive habits or ‘Compulsions’. But in reality, these compulsions often lead to increased anxiety and mental distress. It is most difficult and exhausting for such people to carry out their daily tasks or do them properly, but there is always help.

Moreover, it is known to be a common disorder that affects people irrespective of their age and is different for different people. Usually discovered in the starting stages of some individuals but for others, it can be late. The symptoms generally worsen when the person experiences greater stress. It isn’t always about thinking negative thoughts.

Types of OCDs

Below listed are some of the most common types of OCD:

  I] Constant concerns of checking

  • checking your own body for any diseases or illnesses
  • repeated checking of water taps, windows, electronic devices, door or car locks, stove, to prevent any kind of leaks or danger
  • counting of belongings or any other objects used in their daily life

People with this fear will engage in compulsions until they get a certainty that something terrible will not happen.

 II] Hoarding

Many people find it difficult to throw away or part ways from non-living things or useless possessions as they get a feeling to save them. The quantity of collecting these items keeps increasing from time to time. Commonly hoarded items are newspapers, photographs, paper, and plastic bags, food and clothing, cardboard, etc.

III] Concerned with Fear of impurities or cleanliness

People going through this are one of the most affected during the Covid-19 pandemic. For example,

  • repeatedly wash their hands in fear of germs
  • avoiding crowded places
  • repeatedly clean their surroundings, even when not necessary
  • fear of touching things that others may have touched

IV] Order and exactness

Repeatedly do activities such as arrange objects, organize them, or even line them up, if not they will feel uncomfortable. They are also known as ‘Perfectionists’.

V] Intrusive thoughts

Having intrusive thoughts urges, or images, such as violence or personal harm, then causes self distress. These thoughts disturb an individual when he/she is trying to do other things.

Symptoms

These symptoms begin gradually and differ throughout life.

  • Compulsive behavior
  • Fear of contamination
  • Needing things in order or symmetrical
  • Social isolation
  • Agitation
  • Depression or fear
  • Guilt or fear of making mistakes
  • Anxiety
  • Unwanted thoughts
  • Nightmares
  • Panic attack
  • Repetitive movements
  • Unwanted thoughts involving aggression or violence
  • Having difficulty tolerating uncertainty
  • Demands reassurance
  • Loss of concentration
  • Denial of food

What causes OCD?

  • Behavioral factors
  • Life changes
  • Personal experiences
  • Genetic factors
  • Neurological factors
  • Learning or observing others

Problems faced

Social problems

They tend to struggle in social situations and interactions, even when they are not introverted. Most people tend to hide their symptoms from the public, which creates self-anxiety in the process and some get involved in the concern of peer pressure. Similarly, some have unrealistic worries about their relationships while others are just too tired to socialize.

Everyday problems

These include the difficulty in performing daily life activities like eating, drinking, etc. Many people refrain from going outdoors and become housebound. It also affects children and teenagers in their academic life. Students have a very difficult time concentrating on things that require their attention, for example reading.

Treatment

Treatment may not always result in a cure but will help bring down symptoms that interrupt daily activities. It helps you truly regain significant control of your life. You can also learn and practice many relaxation techniques and methods. It is also beneficial to have a diet that is rich in protein and whole grains.

Specialists

Psychotherapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is usually the most common form of therapy. Others include: 

  • Exposure and response prevention therapy (ERP)

They place individuals in situations where they’re going to be gradually exposed to their obsessions and request them to not perform the compulsions that sometimes ease their anxiety. This should be done at your pace and the therapist should not force you to do anything you don’t want to.

  • Cognitive therapy  

It focuses on the experience of negative thoughts as it will help you learn to recognize error messages and react to them in new ways. This can then help you control your obsessions and compulsions.

  • Imaginal exposure

Mostly mentioned as visualization, are often helpful to alleviate enough anxiety to move willingly to the ERP method

  • Habit reversal training

Behavioral therapy which is highly effective and evidence-based

Medications 

As prescribed by your psychiatrist and which should be followed accordingly

In addition to that, there are cases when both these methods have been practiced.

Some common myths about OCD

Myths are generally a widespread false belief of any idea or system

  • All neat freaks have OCD
  • OCD is very rare in kids
  • It is only a woman’s disease
  • Blood tests or scans can confirm OCD
  • It isn’t treatable or would never be cured
  • It is all about cleanliness and nothing further
  • Tension creates OCD

Common things you should follow while living with individuals who have OCD

  • Educate yourself about OCD
  • Do not judge them
  • Observe notable signals
  • Keep in mind that different people recover at different time rates
  • Avoid comparison with others
  • Create a supportive environment for them
  • Suggest taking needed medications
  • Provide needed privacy and space 
  • Help them to face their fears
  • Look after yourself too

Furthermore, it is always a good idea that you ask or seek professional help when needed without hesitation, as it will ensure you a secure and prosperous future!

-Punnya Prasad

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