Many people find that lingering question in the back of their mind at one time or another. The type of question that asks, is the iron turned off? Did I lock the door? In most cases, people can shrug off the question or double check. For those who have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or OCD, it becomes incredibly difficult to ignore these questions of doubt. Discovering if you or a loved one has OCD is not an easy task. While treatment is available to those with OCD, many may not see the signs of obsessive and ritualistic habits that control their lives, much like a horse with a bit.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America, or ADAA, describes OCD as people being inflicted by “…unwanted and intrusive thoughts that they can’t seem to get out of their heads — obsessions — often compelling them to repeatedly perform ritualistic behaviors and routines — compulsions — to try and ease their anxieties.”
People of all ages, children and adults can have OCD. It is much more than just wondering if the iron was unplugged or if the front door was locked. The ADAA elaborates, “Some spend hours at a time performing complicated rituals involving hand washing, counting, or checking to ward off persistent, unwelcome thoughts, feelings, or images.” These rituals can end up controlling a person to the point that they lose much of their day. The ADAA also states, “OCD is a serious, yet treatable anxiety disorder that often occurs with depression and other anxiety disorders. If not treated properly, it may become disabling. People who go through treatment can find help and methods to freeing themselves from OCD.”
- Strong focus on how things are ordered and their symmetry
- Obsession with cleaning themselves or areas of a house
- Caring too much for others, worrying that bad thoughts will harm others \
- Hoarding items of little use or value
These are only a few of the symptoms involved with OCD and are expressed differently for each individual. The symptoms can manifest within everyday life, starting out as actions that seem completely normal and rational, but slowly shift to excessive and unhealthy.
People who suffer from OCD can be completely aware that these actions are pointless, yet they are unable to stop. Wayne K. Goodman a physician, explains, “The hallmark of OCD is that the person recognizes that her thoughts or behaviors are senseless and excessive. However, the drive can be so powerful that the person caves in to the compulsion, even though she knows it makes no sense.”
Some Psychologists say it is a subconscious grasp at control, of self preservation, especially when an individual’s mental state or daily life is in flux. In an attempt to try and relax their anxieties, people will fall into these excessive routines that corrupt and consume their lives. Since people with OCD initiate their obsessive actions themselves, the danger of not realizing he or she has an illness persists.Someone with OCD may notice how many times they check the front door or that they are holding on to an abundance of items of no use, and are in denial. These symptoms can manifest in early childhood to adulthood and continue to grow if left untreated.
The ADAA describes several possible forms of OCD treatment as a “combination of behavior therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy or exposure therapy and medication.” For anxiety disorders in general, treatment will consist of a form of therapy and medication based on the patient, the type of disorder and their flexibility.
If you or a loved one displays signs of OCD or other mental illnesses, please seek out help by calling the Sovereign Mental Health Services at 866-954-0529.