Darla went out to buy groceries and saw that the alleys of the grocery store were disorganized; she took it upon herself to clean them and organize all products systematically. She came back to her house and started dusting the corners; when she got to the kitchen she arranged her groceries in a set pattern; realizing what she had been doing, she secretly grinned to herself and declared in her head that she’s ‘super OCD’
But just like most of us diagnosing ourselves with a fairly intense disorder every time we get an energetic surge for thoroughly cleaning our room, Darla is terribly mistaken. While these surges for organization and cleaning are the most common symptoms for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, they do not begin to encompass even half of its reality.
The Dsm-5 defines OCD as being characterized by-
“The presence of obsessions and/or compulsions; Obsessions are recurrent and persistent thoughts, urges, or images that are experienced as intrusive and unwanted, whereas compulsions are repetitive behaviours or mental acts that an individual feels driven to perform in response to an obsession or according to rules that must be applied rigidly. Some other obsessive-compulsive and related disorders are also characterized by preoccupations and by repetitive behaviours or mental acts in response to the preoccupations. Other obsessive-compulsive and related disorders are characterized primarily by recurrent body-focused repetitive behaviours (e.g., hair pulling, skin picking) and repeated attempts to decrease or stop the behaviours.”
The following diagnostic criteria is only valid when a person feels that these symptoms have been intruding in their daily lives, are beyond their control, are usually resented by them, and consume up to at least one hour in a day.
Obsessions can include paranoid and overwhelming thoughts about people around you getting hurt, you getting hurt, a friend or a partner cheating on you, and if you do not surrender to a certain compulsive behaviour then your day or even your life may get ruined, being too aware of the number of times you breath or your heart beats or you blink and the like.
Compulsions characterized by repetitive behaviours carried out in the same chronology or pattern every time- like counting the tiles in your bathroom, counting your steps while walking, carrying out every day chores in a specific pattern and in ‘accurately’ enumerated times without ever deviating from it, fear of using possibly unhygienic things and places like public bathroom and the like and oftentimes OCD is accompanied with body centric repetitive behaviours and disorders such as- picking on your skin (also called excoriation), pulling on your hair (trichotillomania), always being dissatisfied picking out flaws in your outer appearance (body dysmorphic disorder). An obsession with cleanliness and symmetry are also some of the primary symptoms.
One of the hardest parts of having OCD and treating it is that almost all of the patients with OCD are aware of the futility of these idiosyncrasies, yet they are rendered helpless and have to give in to their urges. While there is no known cure for OCD, there are still ways that one can avoid triggering their OCD:-
- Psychotherapy is one such way; a therapist will induce conditions that are supposed to aggravate anxiety and set off OCD related thoughts and behaviours, where the challenge would be to learn how to regulate them or stop them.
- Yoga/meditation: Stress is a major trigger for OCD, meditative practices like listening to calm music and yoga can help patients deal with stress healthily by relaxing their minds.
- Medication: me FDA approved medications are also prescribed to patients with OCD, these are psychiatric drugs called selective Serotonin reuptake inhibitors which help in controlling obsessions and compulsions. (note: taking medications without prescription could be fatal to your health)
- is used in rare cases where therapy and medications prove to be ineffective; it uses special devices to modulate your nerve cells via magnetic fields and is known as TMS or transcranial magnetic stimulation
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