What is OCD, and what does it mean?
OCD is short for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. An obsession is when a person has intrusive and unwanted thoughts, images, feelings, and/or ideas. They are often recurring. A compulsion is when a person feels compelled to do something over and over again. It can be handwashing, cleaning/organizing, and checking on certain items/action. These actions have to affect daily, work, and social functioning and cannot be resolved by reasoning. For example, the person may logically know that they locked the front door, but the OCD compels them to check it over and over again.
OCD tends to affect 2 to 3 % of the US population, from children to adults. Average age diagnosis is around 19, with more females affected compared to males.
What are the four types of OCD?
There are four main types of OCD: contamination, perfection, doubts about harm and checking, and forbidden thoughts.
- Contamination has to do with a fear of contamination of germs. People with this type of OCD regularly clean the area, cleanse their bodies often, and show extreme fear towards any objects they suspect have been contaminated.
- Perfection has to do with extreme orderliness in objects and thoughts. People with this type have rituals such as arranging items in a certain way, moving things around until it meets their satisfaction, and/or looking for a perfect symmetry or organization every time.
- Doubt about harm and checking is when a person has intrusive thoughts and images about accidentally hurting somebody due to their careless actions. Because of this fear, they obsessively recheck things like making sure the stove is off, all the switches are off, and constantly checking the door to see if they’re locked.
- Forbidden thoughts are usually unwanted thoughts and images of taboo situations. These situations often involve a religious, sexual, and/or violent context.
What causes OCD to get worse?
Stress usually plays a role in worsening the symptoms of OCD. Therefore, it is essential to practice stress management and find the technique to either reduce or cope with stressful situations.
What are intrusive thoughts?
Intrusive thoughts are unwanted thoughts that get “stuck” in the mind. They often cause distress because they can be violent and disturbing. Examples include killing a loved one, using a sharp object to hurt others, and more. Usually, these thoughts do not linger for long, meaning that they come and go very quickly. People who experience intrusive thoughts worry if there’s something wrong with themselves. That’s OK – as long as you do not act or have an urge to act on those thoughts, it’s nothing to be concerned about.