Updated: May 1, 2021
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (or OCD) is a mental disorder in which the person affected has recurring, unwanted and obsessive thoughts and urges to do things over and over again.
Approximately 2.3% of the general population suffers from OCD. OCD is divided into two parts, obsessions and compulsions.
According to International OCD Foundation, “Obsessions are unwanted, intrusive thoughts, images, or urges that trigger intensely distressing feelings.
Compulsions are behaviours an individual engages in to attempt to get rid of the obsessions and/or decrease his or her distress.”
Nowadays “obsessed” is a common phrase used to convey a temporary infatuation with anything from a song to a TV show.
It is thrown around in a casual manner when in reality it has a much deeper and serious meaning.
Obsessions are thoughts, sensations or impulses that are not under the control of the person, in fact they themselves might find those thoughts disturbing or irrational at times.
In the case of OCD, obsessions can take over a person, their day to day activities, and consume all their time. It is not an enjoyable experience.
Some people with OCD might feel that the casual use of the word “obsession” diminishes their ongoing struggles with it.
The International OCD Foundation states, “Research has shown that most people have unwanted “intrusive thoughts” from time to time, but in the context of OCD, these intrusive thoughts come frequently and trigger extreme anxiety that gets in the way of day-to-day functioning.”
Obsessions lead to the second part of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, known as compulsions.
Compulsions are like coping mechanisms for people with OCD to temporarily deal with their obsessions.
People use these repetitive behaviours as a way to neutralize, counteract or make their obsessions go away.
If a person has an obsession with staying clean, they will compulsively spend a lot of time washing their hands. Similarly, a person may constantly be in fear of harm to their loved ones which will lead them to check up on them repeatedly.
A person might have OCD if they find themselves knowing that their thoughts and obsessions are irrational, but they can’t resist them.
Although there isn’t a “cure” for OCD, through relaxation and psychotherapy the person affected can learn to manage their thoughts and compulsions.
It’s important to know that although some people might like things neat and tidy or have some other obsessions, that DOES NOT mean that they have OCD.
OCD goes beyond liking things a particular way, and it isn’t something that should be used to describe a personality quirk.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is serious, and it must be taken seriously.
● OCD: Types, Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Related Conditions
● What is OCD?