What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

What is OCD?

An anxiety disorder characterized by thoughts that are intrusive, that result in fear, apprehension, uneasiness and repetitive behavior intended to minimize the accompanying anxiety, is a known as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). OCD can result in symptoms that are can be time consuming and can result in alienating other people. Sufferers often recognize their compulsions and obsessions as irrational and unreasonable, which only adds to the distress of OCD.

Symptoms include performing a task a certain number of times such as closing and opening a door a fixed number of times prior to exiting or entering a room. A person suffering from OCD may be compulsive about washing or cleaning something multiple times. Symptoms also include repeated checking, hoarding, an aversion to certain numbers, and preoccupation with violent, religious or sexual thoughts. Some of the symptoms can cause financial and emotional distress.

OCD is diagnosed almost as frequently as diabetes or asthma. It is number four in the list of common mental illness with 1 out of every 50 adults suffering from OCD. OCD affects adults and children and approximately one third of adults suffer OCD as children.

The term obsessive compulsive is sometimes a description of a person who can be meticulous, fixated or a perfectionist to the point of being obsessive. Even though the signs are often seen in people with OCD, does not always mean that person has OCD. They may be suffering from an autism disorder or OCPD which is obsessive compulsive personality disorder.

Due to some of the personality characteristics that OCD suffers can have, OCD can be associated with better than average intelligence. These characteristics include, avoiding risk, paying attention to detail, thorough planning, taking time to make decisions and an exaggerated sense of responsibility.

The most common branch of OCD is where the response involves some weird form of behavior such as contamination. The presence of dirt, disease or germs brings about a sense of threats and the compulsive need to remove or at least reduce the presence of the contaminants. The response to this involves cleaning such as washing something a number of times and then washing again because of uncertainty it is clean.

The next most common form of OCD is checking. This can involve compulsive checking to make sure doors are locked, the stove is off or the faucet is off, since leaving something unchecked may prove harmful to another person. It is not uncommon for someone with OCD to check something between 5 and 100 times, or more. The compulsion to check usually stays with that person until a reduction in tension and stress is experienced.

A less common form of OCD is hoarding. Hoarding is excessively collecting worthless items or excessively purchasing certain items. Items that are typically hoarded are novelty items, magazines, newspapers and garbage. The rationale to hoard is in case the items will be needed someday or they have an intrinsic value that prevents them from being thrown away. Some people, who hoard, develop an emotional attachment to them that perhaps reflects a certain moment in time. Ordering is a subcategory of CD where the sufferer feels compelled to place items in a designated order.

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