Obsessive-compulsive disorder or the word OCD is very common to hear nowadays among young people. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental disorder in which people have recurring unwanted thoughts, sensations (obsessions), or the urge to do something repeatedly which are compulsions. Some people may go through both obsessions and compulsions at the same time.
Habits like biting your nails, having negative or unwanted thoughts are not related to OCD. While an obsessive thought might be related to certain thought processes like particular number or color is ‘good’ or ‘bad’.
A compulsive thought might be related to washing your hands several times a day, whenever you end up touching something that could be dirty. It also happens even if you don’t want to think about it but you suddenly feel powerless to stop.
The repetitive behaviors of washing hands, cleaning things, or keep checking on them can gradually start interfering in a person’s daily life activities and social interactions as well.
Ameeta Sanghavi Shah, a soul mind-body therapist and life coach. talks to the Healthwire about the OCD problem.
“We all have that worry or anxiety area but the person with OCD has a little higher level of anxiety. Basically, this is an obsession in our worry area, and it could be about anything related to cleanliness, confusion in thoughts, sexual or harm related or it can be self-identity related too. So in other terms, we can also call it a ‘doubting disease’. Somewhere the safety of the self is threatened to a very high degree and the compulsion is the action that is taken to free oneself from that worry or to get relief but the relief is temporary”, she says.
“This pandemic and the danger of virus have increased the anxiety states of mind among people and are leading them towards OCD patterns and behaviors. Constant use of masks and sanitizers has been a part of life now, and to keep ourselves safe from the virus we keep on cleaning our hands again and again because it creates a doubt in our mind. This is affecting the OCD patients the most during this time,” she said.
What are the symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?
According to Ameeta Sanghavi Shah, OCD is a repetitive compulsion, the repetition to get relief. Repetitive action or a loop that you go on and on is a common symptom of this. We all have anxiety but in this, the anxiety is heightened.
While symptoms like repetitive checking of locks, alarm systems, or nowadays checking your Google for some medical relief or having a fear of things that might be related to cleanliness leads the person for a compulsion to clean.
Some other symptoms of this can be related to self-doubt or how a person is being treated as something that leads to thoughts that might be violent and disturbing. Asking repeated questions like “Do you love me or not?” in a relationship and creating an obsession over it is a symptom of OCD.
How it is caused?
Ameeta Sanghavi Shah believe it is caused by something related to a person’s ‘past unhealed trauma’, or the person might have gone through something in the past which is still somewhere haunting him or her to behave in such a way or there is some unhidden trauma that affects them.
Even a lot of stress about something can lead to this disorder. Or having a history of physical or sexual abuse as a child, experience with trauma in the past, or even a parent, sibling, or child with OCD in past can be a cause.
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How does the obsession and compulsion thing work?
Studies reveal that many people who are going through OCD are aware that their thoughts and habits do not make any sense. They generally end up doing things that they don’t want to do because they can’t stop themselves from doing it and even if they stop they remain in a doubt for the rest of the day, which is an obsession. There may be thoughts and worries about themselves or people getting hurt by them.
The obsession also involves a constant awareness of breathing and blinking throughout the time or suspicion regarding the partner that he or she is unfaithful.
The compulsion is of doing something in a specific manner, time, or way. Repetitive compulsions of counting things or fear of using public toilets or even shaking hands are seen in a person with OCD.
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What age groups of people commonly see these symptoms?
The young generation generally uses this term more than anyone else, and this has become a common term among teens and young adults. The young adults are the ones who undergo a lot of stress about future, employment, career, and personal life so most of the symptoms often appear in them. Especially in the age group of 25-35, these symptoms are seen, as youth is considered to be the anxiety stage. It is also seen that it is common in women more than in men.
What are the risks involved in this?
This problem cannot be considered to be dangerous but can lead to depression, anxiety, and tics. This can be a risk to the family members of the patients with OCD, as it can consume the person whole day and time. It is a beyond control disorder for people with OCD. And can interfere in a person’s professional, personal, and social life to an extent.
OCD: What are the treatments available to us?
According to Ameeta Sanghavi Shah, there are some medicines, therapy, or a combination of treatments available to manage the symptoms of OCD, but after all, it depends on the person how he or she cope up with it and try to show changes.
There are different treatments like-
- Psychotherapy– Psychotherapy can help in changing patterns of cognitive behavior. A process that the doctors generally use to prevent it is called exposure and response prevention in which they put a designed situation to create anxiety and stress. And this leads to lessen and stop OCD thoughts and actions.
- Relaxation-Simple ways like meditation, yoga, and massage can help with stressful OCD symptoms.
- TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation)- There is this therapy called Transcranial magnetic stimulation or TMS which is a non-invasive device usually held above the head to persuade the magnetic field and targets a specific part of the brain that controls OCD symptoms.
- Medication- Some doctors also diagnose it with medications after taking the blood test and a physical exam to make sure something isn’t causing the symptoms. There are hormonal changes which take place among the body of the person with OCD, that helps in detecting the problem
- Counseling is also an important treatment for this by talking to the person with OCD about their identity, feelings, thoughts, and habits to know what they are going through.