Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Among the most common disorders generated from anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder is considered one of the most popular.


Obsessive compulsive disorder is a product of anxiety. This disorder is manifested by repetitive thoughts and compulsive behavior. People with this illness manifest symptoms such as obsession on safety, cleanliness and orderliness. Another repetitive thought that a person with OCD has is the idea that everything is valuable and must not be discarded. Consequently, this obsession leads to the development of a ritualistic behavior. The behavior is utilized by the person with OCD to reduce the distress brought about by his/her unwanted thoughts. Despite the person’s awareness about the absurdity of his/her thoughts, gaining control over these disturbing thoughts seems impossible.

What are the signs and symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder?

The name of the disorder itself describes the signs and symptoms it manifests, which are obsession and compulsion to be precise.

Obsession is described as having unwanted repetitive thoughts. These thoughts are drawn from the person’s anxiety for possible catastrophes. A person with OCD has obsession in one or more of the following:

1. Obsession on cleanliness

People with OCD wanted to keep themselves extremely clean. Their intrusive thinking about becoming dirty makes them perform hygienic practices more than the usual. They have this fear that they might acquire an illness from an unclean environment.

2. Obsession on safety

Safety is significant to every person. It is normal to take safety precautions such as checking the door locks, ensuring that appliances are turned off properly and other safety measures. However, when it becomes excessively done, it becomes a disorder. Individuals with obsessive compulsive disorder tend to overdo the safety measures. It would take them several hours checking the locks or appliances to assure themselves that nothing tragic will happen such as being robbed due to a door that has not been locked properly or house fire from a stove that has not been turned off or a leaking LPG.

3. Obsession on orderliness

Perfectionism is another distinct feature of people with OCD. They arrange their things in a specific manner. They set standards on how things should be arranged. Any deviation from their way of putting things in order meant they have to repeat the task all over again. However, their obsession to orderliness hinders them from doing other important matters.

4. Obsession on the idea that everything is valuable and must not be discarded

Obsessive compulsive disorder makes a person obsessed with the idea that everything is valuable and must not be discarded. They have this thought that things that are not useful for the present moment might be useful in the future. Thus, they feel compelled of keeping things even those which are already busted and out of order.

Compulsion is another major component of the signs and symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder. This is consists by devastating ritualistic behaviors in response to the person’s obsession. Therefore, every obsessive thought has a corresponding compulsive behavior that a person with OCD may manifest. The person feels that performing such behavior is compulsory or else something terrible will occur.

A person with obsession to cleanliness feels compelled to perform hygienic practices such as hand washing or bathing repeatedly. Generally, normal people would wash hands once after a certain activity that exposes the person to microbes. However, a person with OCD has extreme fear of getting sick. As a response, the person may wash hands thrice or more. A normal person would usually wash hands for about five to ten minutes. However, OCD might compel the person to wash for about 30 minutes or even hours. Consequently, physical sign is evident such as dryness and redness of skin on areas being washed repeatedly, particularly the hands. Some people with OCD may also bath repeatedly and for longer duration.

Another uncontrollable behavior observed to individuals with OCD is repetitive inspection of door locks before going in or out of the house or any other objects with locks. This behavior is a result of the person’s obsession to safety. The person aims for self-assurance that his/her things and even love ones will not be subjected to danger because of his/her leniency. Another common compulsive behavior observed to people with OCD is frequent turning on and off of appliances or light. This maybe associated with the fear of possible fire accidents.

Furthermore, obsession to orderliness will compel the person to arrange things in a repetitive manner until everything appears perfectly in order. Meanwhile, a person with obsession on the values of things may oblige the person to hoard objects even the useless or busted ones.

It should be noted that a behavior becomes a disorder when it is performed more than the usual frequency and duration. Likewise, the daily activities of the person are disrupted.

What are the causes of obsessive compulsive disorder?

Psychological, biological and neurologic factors are identified by researchers as the causes of OCD. In the psychological aspect, OCD is believed to have developed as a means of adaptation to a certain environmental condition. On the other hand, the biological factor has something to do with genetic defects that result to imbalance of a substance that regulates anxiety called serotonin. Associated with serotonin imbalance is an abnormal brain activity revealed during brain scan. The latter comprises the neurologic cause of OCD.

How is obsessive compulsive disorder managed?

The main treatment used to correct obsessive compulsive disorder is medication using SSRIs or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. This drug ensures appropriate distribution of serotonin to the neurons, avoiding reuptake of serotonin by the same cells which produced it. As a result, extreme anxiousness is controlled including obsessive notions. Antidepressant medications are used as well. However, there is lesser efficiency to correct OCD compared with the use of SSRIs.

Along with drug therapy, the most efficient management for obsessive compulsive disorder is behavioral treatment or therapy. The intention of the treatment is to prevent the person from performing compulsive behavior after being exposed from the cause of his/her anxiety. For instance, a person with obsession to orderliness is exposed to a disorganized environment. However, the person is not allowed to perform his habit of putting everything in order. This therapy is focused on making the person develop tolerance to the causes of his/her anxiety. Thus, repeated exposure without performance of rituals makes the person adapt to the situation resulting to decreased anxiety.

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