“OCD is not a disease that bothers; it is a disease that tortures"
– J.J. Keeler
Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental disorder that's characterized by a strong urge to perform certain tasks repeatedly. These tasks may include checking to make sure the doors are locked, cleaning, and handwashing. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), approximately 1% of the entire U.S. population suffers from some form of OCD. What's even more alarming is that roughly half of these cases are classified as "severe." So, how do you know if you suffer from OCD?
OCD begins with an obsessive thought or thoughts, which are usually unwanted. Unlike "normal" thoughts, these don't go away on their own. The obsessive thoughts will continue to run through the person's mind to the point where it consumes their life, diverting their focus of attention. Everyone is bound to experience a negative and/or unwanted thought at some point during their life, but they generally dissipate and are later forgotten about. With OCD, the thoughts persist from day to day, lowering the person's quality of life while making it difficult to perform normal activities.
Another tall-tale sign of OCD is compulsive acts, which are triggered by obsessive thoughts. For example, someone with OCD may have obsessive thoughts about germs and how they are covering every square inch of his or her home. This individual will then act on the obsessive thought by cleaning their home with bleach, scrubbing every nook and cranny until it's spotless. We all know that germs are everywhere, with the dirtiest places often being cellphones and keyboards. However, people with OCD feel compelled to act on these thoughts. There's a biochemical reaction occurring in the brain that drives the person to act on their obsessive thoughts.
Another characteristic sign of OCD is the performance of "rituals" on a regular basis. These rituals are essentially the compulsive acts which are performed over and over. If you have OCD about organizing your closet, you may rummage through your wardrobe at 3:00 PM on the hour to rearrange your clothes and shoes. This isn't a one-time activity, but rather you perform this ritual on a daily basis, sometimes even multiple times per day. According to Wikipedia, people who suffer from OCD often spend an hour or longer each day performing rituals.
A fourth characteristic sign of OCD is the feeling of temporary relief after performing the ritual or compulsive act. Performing the ritual causes the obsessive thought to weaken or fade, allowing the individual to experience relief. Unfortunately, this relief is short-lived, with the anxiety and obsession returning.
Get the support you need to make important life changes. If you would like to complement your therapy with an alternative treatment option (or need a place to start), you might consider trying hypnotherapy. Hypnotherapy can help you sort out your feelings and give you the courage and strength you need to move on with your life, set new goals, and rebuild an always damaged self-esteem.
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