June 04, 2019

Living with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Background Information

Have you ever left your house, but stopped the car and went back inside because you couldn’t remember if you turned off the stove? A natural reaction to a potentially dangerous situation, right? Sure – we’ve all done it. Ever obsessively thought about whether you turned the stove off for hours on end. Or engaged in the repetitive checking and re-checking that you turned it off? Do you have no control over stopping these obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors? Then, you might be suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). This condition is chronic and affects 2.3% of the general population over the course of a lifetime1. On any given day, 1.5% of people across the globe are suffering from OCD.

If you are suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder, it is likely negatively affecting your life to some degree. You might engage in excessive hand washing that disrupts your lifestyle – spending over an hour a day washing your hands repeatedly to the point they become raw and blistered. Or, you might develop a counting ritual such that you can’t leave a room without turning the light on and off a certain number of times. If you are suffering from OCD, you likely know that your thoughts and behaviors are irrational. But, you still, uncontrollably, engage in the ritualistic behavior or can’t stop thinking about something obsessively. In addition, if you suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder, you are more likely to also be coping with other mental health disorders, including eating disorders and depression; and your risk of developing anxiety, tics, and contemplating suicide are increased.

The typical onset of obsessive-compulsive disorder is before the age of twenty. It is very uncommon for obsessive-compulsive behavior to begin after the age of thirty-five, though it can occur. Obsessions and compulsions are prevalent among children and occur about equally in men and women. Often, obsessions and compulsions develop among some type of theme. For example, if you are suffering from this condition, you might be fearful of germs. You obsessively think about getting sick from these germs, so you engage in the compulsive act of excessive hand washing. Despite your best efforts to ward off these thoughts, you have no control over them, so you engage in more and more hand washing because of your fear of germs. Because the obsessive thoughts about germs never go away, your compulsions get worse, and the cycle goes on and on with no relief. This cyclical nature of obsession and compulsion is classic of obsessive-compulsive disorder. https://www.psycom.net/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd

Leave a Reply