You think you’re a perfectionist. All your dress shirts hung “just so,” and your office desk has to be wiped clean daily before you leave. Often, you do things repeatedly or think of the ramifications of not doing something. If this is true, you may be suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder.
WHAT IS OCD?
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an ailment where a person has persistent, unwanted thoughts, ideas, or feelings (obsessions) that instill an urge to do something repeatedly (compulsions). The cyclical behaviors, such as washing your hand, checking on something, or cleaning, can drastically interfere with your daily activities and interactions with others.
Millions of U.S. adults suffer from OCD (about 2.3 percent total), with females more likely than males to get it. Thankfully, the symptoms are treatable.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
“Obsessive-compulsive disorder usually includes both obsessions and compulsions. But it’s also possible to have only obsession symptoms or compulsion symptoms. You may or may not realize that your obsessions and compulsions are excessive or unreasonable, but they take up a great deal of time and interfere with your daily routine and social, school, or work functioning.”
You may have symptoms of either or both, and they can interfere with all aspects of your life.
DO YOU KNOW THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF OCD?
Just as there are many kinds of depression, there are many kinds of obsessive-compulsive disorder to contend with. But managing the symptoms depends on knowing the enemy, so read on for helpful information.
Likely the most well-known OCD, organization includes obsessions about something being in the correct place or proportioned. You may feel the desire to have every wall hanging level, arrange it so that all labels on boxes or cans in your cupboards face outward, or keep items on your desk ordered. Suppose you don’t carry out the compulsions to ensure everything’s just so. In that case, you may experience grief or believe the absence of organization will trigger unrelated harm to yourself or your loved ones.
Contamination OCD orbits two shared ideas. The first: thinking that people transmit non-viral illnesses by touching or being near someone else. The second: everyday things can “contaminate” someone – like their thoughts and words – making them feel dirty. People experiencing this OCD type typically feel the urge to wash their hands frequently and scour items regularly to prevent the spread of the alleged contamination. They believe illness – to themselves or someone – can result from carelessness, or they may feel appalled and uneasy in the presence of something they think is “unclean,” which can avoid certain things, people, or places.
If you suffer from intrusive thoughts, painful or regrettable ideas may randomly jump into your mind. These obsessions could involve harming a loved one or a stranger or even the notion that merely thinking about an outcome can make it more probable to happen. To soothe these obsessions, you may have to do an action, like repeating something aloud or saying something in your head. While people who suffer from intrusive obsessions can have violent or destructive thoughts, they neither concur with them nor act upon them. These ideas are often so repugnant or contradictory to their feelings that people regularly become worried that their minds arrived at such a thought to begin with.
This OCD is like intrusive thought-based OCD, with some key differences. The ideas which get lodged in your head when afflicted with ruminations aren’t disgusting or troubling. Instead, they may be metaphysical, philosophical, or religious enigmas (basically questions which have no proven retort). People who suffer from ruminations may be distracted by this topic for some time and may disregard responsibilities as they try to arrive at an answer. Because such questions often have no definitive answer, you may feel unsatisfied or meaningless after expending so much thought on this topic for so long.
Checking is an obsession where you’re worried about causing harm or damage through carelessness. Your compulsions may include checking windows to make sure they’re closed; stoves to ensure the gas is off; or your purse to make sure your cash, credit cards, and IDs are there as expected. You might have to verify something several times or even gaze at it for some time before you will feel at ease.
OCD is a severe mental health disorder, and many people who suffer from it ignore the symptoms because they think they’re habitual perfectionists who merely like order and structure. But if such habits rule your life, you may need professional counseling or other help, including ketamine infusion therapy.