What is OCD – Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?
OCD 'forces' people to carry out repeated tasks in response to obsessional impulses and thoughts or ideas. OCD is really a complexity of these. Life can be almost unbearable and the OCD sufferer often feels they are locked up and trapped in their own minds.
Many OCD sufferers feel they are going to be misunderstood by others, so they develop strategies to hide their symptoms in order to try and appear normal to the outside world.
It can be very difficult for partners/family members to live with someone who has OCD. as the condition dominates the activities and atmosphere within the home.
The symptoms can be so severe that, for some people, they are unable to function in normal everyday life.
Do many people have OCD – Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (obsessions and/or compulsions)?
The condition is quite common. As many as 1 in 50 adolescents and adults have some form of obsessions and compulsions disorder.
Typical symptoms of OCD – Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Many people have heard of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD); however, there is much confusion over what obsessions and compulsions actually are.
Basic guides are given below:
- Recurrent and persistent thoughts, impulses or images. These are experienced during the disturbance as intrusive and inappropriate. They also cause significant anxiety or distress.
- The above are not just excessive worries about real-life situations.
- The sufferer consciously attempts to suppress or neutralise the thoughts, impulses or images with some other thought or behaviour.
- The sufferer realises that the thoughts, impulses or images are just a product of their own mind.
- Repetitive behaviours or mental acts that the person feels a compulsion to perform due to an obsession. These usually are in accordance to a set of self-defined ‘rules’ that must be rigidly adhered to.
- The behaviours or mental acts are to prevent or reduce distress or prevent a dreaded occurrence from happening. The behaviours or mental acts are not a realistic way to neutralise distress or prevent a fearful situation manifesting itself and are recognised as excessive.
In addition to the above, at some point the sufferer must realise that their obsessions or compulsions are unreasonable.
Additionally, the obsessions or compulsions must be time-consuming (over an hour per day), distressful or impair social, occupational or educational
Obsessional behaviours in real-life
Obsessions are thoughts, ideas or impulses that the sufferer cannot stop thinking about. Their mind is constantly intruded by these and it appears that the person does not know how they originated.
Obsessional behaviours include:
- Repeated hand-washing or actions e.g. checking windows are locked.
- Avoiding stepping on cracks in pavements or similar.
- Over-working – perfectionism at the expense of family, social life and health.
- Avoiding interaction on an emotional level – keeping people at arms length.
- Worrying about illness – catching germs from any surface, clean or otherwise.
- Constantly thinking about negative outcomes or situations.
- Constant fears of flooding the house, setting it on fire, being burgled etc.
- Thoughts about physically harming a loved one – knife, car etc.
- Worries about precision, perfection or symmetry, i.e. constantly checking pictures are level
- Intrusive sexual thoughts or urges.
This list is not exhaustive.
Compulsive behaviours in real-life:
Compulsions are actions that the sufferer completes repeatedly due to an obsessional thought. People feel a total ‘necessity’ to carry out the action continuously at any cost. Sufferers usually feel guilty for carrying out the action but are unable find a way to prevent the urge that the task has to be done.
For example, ref. housework: The sufferer will feel a sense of greater peace of mind when doing the housework (a response to the obsessional thoughts about keeping the house clean or potentially catching a disease from a dirty surface). If the response is interrupted, (e.g. someone calls at the door), then the level of anxiety experienced will escalate as the housework has not been completed to a required satisfactory level. But if the compulsive action has been completed it is common for the cycle to begin again despite the house being immaculate. Sometimes a different compulsive activity can be engaged in before returning to the housework that does not actually need to be done. Some sufferers are unable to discern when an action has been completed. These people can find themselves locked, for hours at a time, in a cycle of repeatedly practicing the compulsive behaviour.
Compulsive behaviours include:
- Gambling addictions.
- Drug addictions (including smoking cigarettes/joints).
- Eating inappropriate amounts of food.
- Cleaning (washing hands or wiping worktops, ‘hoovering’ for hours on end).
- Checking (light switches, locks, gas cooker is turned off etc.).
- Counting columns of numbers for hours at a time.
- Arranging (cutlery facing the same way, books, CDs by colour or name).
- Constantly repeating words.
- Completing (performing the behaviour in exact order again and again, until it is done completely perfectly. And if interrupted usually start all over again).
- Hoarding (the collecting useless objects)
Responsive Hypnotherapy is a very powerful tool to help you overcome your OCD