Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
OCD is a disabling illness that causes the person suffering from it to perform repetitive actions or behaviour. They are plagued by recurring thoughts, fears or images they cannot control. The anxiety produced by these images or thoughts leads to an immediate need to perform certain routines or ‘compulsions’.
This ritual may temporarily provide relief to the person but they must perform the same actions once again when the obsessive thoughts return. This cycle will take up the most of a person’s day and significantly interferes with their day to day activities. People with OCD may be aware that their obsession and compulsions are not normal but they cannot stop themselves from indulging in them.
It starts like this:
There will be an intrusive thought that may occur in the person’s head: for e.g.: They may think that their house may be burgled. And this thought causes a lot of anxiety and creates the urge to act upon that thought. This in turn creates the compulsion in them to go around the house checking and closing all the doors and windows and check and re-check the same. After completing this action, they may get temporary relief, until the next time the same intrusive thought occurs, which maybe immediately in many cases. This leads to the repetition of the same process all over again, due to which daily activities maybe disturbed.
The above diagram is for reference only.
People with OCD know and realise that their behaviour is senseless or unrealistic, but they cannot help themselves even though this activity takes up much of their time.
Signs and Symptoms :
The symptoms of OCD may vary from person to person, but here is a list of some common obsessions:
- Repeated unwanted ideas
- Fear of contamination by germs or dirt
- Aggressive behaviour/ fear of causing harm to others
- They feel a need for order or for exactness or symmetry in all things
- Persistent thoughts of behaving in an embarrassing manner
People with these kind of obsessive thoughts will typically try to make them go away by performing some kind of compulsive activities. Given here is a list of some of the compulsive activities a person may perform:
- Repeatedly performing an action: e.g.: washing hands, cleaning doorknobs
- Refusing to shake hands or touch any items
- Constantly arranging things in a certain way and getting anxious if they’re unable to do so.
- Being stuck with some thoughts and unable to change or push them away and this usually leads to sleeplessness and restlessness.
- They feel a need to perform some kind of activity many number of times.
- They usually hoard some kinds of items with no specific value.
In kids the signs may also include
- Lucky or unlucky numbers
- A preoccupation with bodily wastes
- They feel frustrated or guilty for not being able to control their behaviour.
- Intrusive sounds and words.
And these lead to certain compulsions such as
- Specific grooming rituals that they follow religiously, e.g.: brushing teeth, bathing etc.
- Repeating rituals such as walking in and out of a doorway in a special manner, preferring to walk in a particular manner only, writing and erasing to write again, etc.
- Touching rituals
- Counting rituals
- Cleaning rituals
Parents can look at these following possible signs of OCD:
- Raw chapped hands from constant washing
- Unusually high rate of sanitizer usage or soap usage
- Sudden drop in grades
- A very long time spent sitting with homework yet completing nothing
- A persistent fear of illness
- They keep asking the same question over and over again
- eluctance to leave the house
Once the parent sees any such signs we would urge them to contact us.
The exact cause of OCD is unknown. But there might be a combination of biological and environmental factors. OCD is no longer attributed to childhood attitudes. The Latest research focuses more on finding out the link between biological and environmental factors. There is also a study that might say that less number of neurotransmitters in our brain may be the cause of OCD.
Complications / Risks :
There are many complications that arise when an adult/child has OCD.
- Troubled or estranged relationships
- Poor quality of life
- Eating disorders
- Suicidal thoughts and behaviour
- Skin chapping due to constant cleansing
- Inability to maintain proper relationships.
- Repetitive uncontrollable speech patterns making them incomprehensible