Types of OCD
In many cases of OCD there are often other co-existing disorders such as an eating disorder, bipolar disorder, depression or anxiety. Most people affected with OCD were found to have experienced the symptoms as early as their childhood years.
Research also reveals that genes play a huge factor in the likelihood of development of OCD in an individual. Given this predisposition, people who are born into families with parents or siblings who have OCD are themselves at high risk.
However, OCD can affect anyone at anytime, not just those with a family history of OCD.
Individuals who are diagnosed with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder fall into any of the following categories:
• Checkers: These individuals often check certain things for fear of harm or danger. They repeatedly check their stoves, door locks, or light switches etc.
• Hoarders: These people think that something negative is going to happen if they decide to throw away anything. This leads them to hoard a lot of things, even those that are obviously unimportant and unneeded, such as garbage.
• Counters or Arrangers: People with this type of OCD see to it that everything around them is symmetrical or following a specific order. Anything abstract just doesn’t fit into their lifestyle.
• Washers: These people are extremely afraid of germs and being contaminated with any disease. They want everything to be completely clean and therefore wash their hands often to get rid of germs.
• Doubters: They believe that something bad will happen if a certain thing is not done correctly or perfectly.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Living a life with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, known as OCD, is not easy. It makes a person feel that he or she can’t do anything without first giving in to their rituals. Unfortunately, these rituals can interfere with almost every aspect of their life.
For example, an individual with OCD may find counting as a ritual that is difficult to ignore. Even though they know these rituals do not make any sense at all, they still cannot avoid or ignore it. They may wash their hair three times because at the back of their mind three is a lucky number and washing the hair less or more than three times would bring bad luck.
Counting becomes a ritual that must be part of whatever they do. When reading, they may try to count the number of paragraphs first before deciding when to start and when to stop reading. Turning on the alarm at night would also mean setting it to a time that is associated with a lucky number.
Obsessions and Accompanying Compulsions
Another case of OCD is the example of an individual who thinks if they do not follow their rituals, something bad would happen to someone else. Even though they know their thoughts are totally irrational and unfounded, they cannot stop their thoughts.
Getting dressed in the morning can also be difficult as there may be certain time-consuming rituals to do beforehand and if there are time pressures their anxiety elevates. If they try to ignore their urge to spend more time on their rituals it begins to create severe worry.
OCD : being Controlled by One’s Own Obsessions
Individuals with OCD will always have these persistent and irrational thoughts which serve as their ‘obsession’, coupled with irresistible ‘rituals’ which are referred to as ‘compulsions’.
The rituals or compulsions are used as a means of controlling the anxiety that their obsessions are giving them. Ironically, the person ends up being controlled by those obsessions and compulsions that are supposed to relieve the anxiety. For instance, is the door locked or unlocked? To cure their anxiety, they check to see if it is how they want it to be. By doing so, they have again allowed their obsession to cause them to perform their checking ritual.
Another example is a person who has an obsession with germs or dirt may find the compulsion to wash their hands more often than needed. This example is often the one people most readily recognize as being an obsessive compulsive disorder.
Even people without the disorder may have their own little rituals they follow on a regular basis, such as double checking if the television is turned off before leaving the house or going to the kitchen before bed to check to see if the stove is properly turned off. However, this is not the same as in the case of someone with OCD. These ‘checking’ actions that are done repeatedly as a matter of course are not a disturbing, daily interference in their life.
Many individuals who have OCD are often ashamed to tell anyone about their obsessions or rituals and try to hide them as much as possible for fear of ridicule. They also find it difficult to overcome on their own and this is why seeking treatment for OCD is often necessary.
OCD in Children
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder usually starts in childhood or adolescence. However, there are also children who manifest several symptoms that are similar to OCD. Autism, ADD and Tourette’s syndrome are a few examples of conditions that have OCD-like symptoms.
Therefore, it is imperative that a proper and thorough evaluation, including psychological and medical lab tests, be done first before coming to a final diagnosis.
Treatments for Obsessive Compulsive Behavior
An individual with OCD must understand that although anti-depressant medications can be used as part of the treatment, these drugs may pose serious risks to one’s health. Children, teenagers and adults with OCD should exhaust all types of natural treatments first before resorting to anti-depressant medications.
Every anti-depressant medicine has a warning label about its side-effects. Studies have shown that these antidepressant medications may lead people to have suicidal thoughts and put the person at risk of suicide. Anyone who decides to take antidepressants must work closely with their doctor to watch for side effects. If a loved one is taking antidepressants, make sure to monitor them closely.
Some people’s OCD symptoms may come and go, while others suffer with symptoms that worsen over a period of time. Others are also fortunate enough to find the symptoms slowly easing away especially after undergoing proper treatment.
Severe cases of OCD will make it difficult for a person to lead a normal life as the symptoms interfere with their ability to achieve the level of productivity required from them at work or at home. Some people with OCD would prefer to avoid those things and places that will trigger their symptoms. Others choose to indulge in alcohol or drug abuse to be able to cope with their OCD symptoms.