Table of contents:
- How to recognize obsessive-compulsive disorder
- What to do if you suspect obsessive-compulsive disorder
2023 Author: Malcolm Clapton | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-07-28 10:38
There is a line after which the desire to put everything on the shelves turns into a neurosis.
Being a control freak is sometimes helpful. It is better to make sure five times that you have accurately put air tickets and passports in your bag than to find out later at the airport that the necessary documents are missing.
But for some, the desire to control and double-check becomes obsessive. And so much so that it seriously spoils life. A person literally gets hung up on some things. For example, he cannot leave the house until he has made sure that the iron is turned off 20 times. Or he won't wash his hands 10 times. Or, let’s say, will not bring the hallway to shine.
This behavior is called obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). With this disorder, a person is regularly visited by obsessive disturbing thoughts (obsessions), which he tries to get rid of with the help of equally obsessive actions-rituals (compulsions).
According to the Obsessive ‑ compulsive Disorder of the US National Institute of Mental Health, 1–2 out of every 100 people suffer from OCD. In the United States alone, over two million people are affected.
It is difficult to recognize the line where healthy foresight or a love of cleanliness begins to turn into a mental disorder. But still it is possible - if you do not miss some characteristic symptoms.
How to recognize obsessive-compulsive disorder
All people are, of course, different. But obsessions most often develop according to several of the same type of scenarios Obsessive ‑ compulsive Disorder. Here they are.
1. Fear of germs or dirt
An uncontrollable passion for hygiene is one of the most common symptoms of OCD.
People with this disorder are desperately afraid that pathogenic germs will settle on their hands or body. Therefore, they wash their hands five times in a row. And they repeat the procedure every time you have to touch the doorknob or office phone receiver. Well, the need to shake hands with a colleague, hug a friend when meeting, or, say, grab a handrail in public transport becomes their personal nightmare.
2. An unhealthy passion for cleaning
There are people whose houses literally shine. They are neat. But if everything is clean and guests are walking around the apartment like in a museum, but you are still unhappy and have an irresistible desire to rub the mirrors and scrub the floor in the hallway again and again, we can talk about it - obsessive-compulsive disorder.
3. The need to keep things in order (literally)
A cup that is left on the table, rather than taking up its allocated space on the kitchen shelf, can cause a person with OCD to become naturally hysterical. He is enraged by any things that, in his opinion, are not where they should be. Slippers must certainly stand on a shoe stand, a program must lie under the TV, and even a cat must sit in its basket. A person can get nervous even if the thing is located at the wrong angle.
Someone might call this behavior a passion for order driven to perfectionism. But no - this is also a sign of obsessive-compulsive disorder.
4. Excessive self-doubt
Many people worry about how they look, whether they are doing the right thing, and what others will think of them. This is not a problem (or rather, not the worst of them).
Such experiences become a problem when a person cannot keep them inside.
He wonders endlessly: do these jeans really suit him? Is the mascara smudged? Does he look too fat in this dress? Is he performing the task correctly? And now? And now? And here he was also not mistaken?
The neurotic physically needs constant encouragement or reassurance from others that everything is fine with him. This betrays obsessive-compulsive disorder.
5. The need to constantly double-check everything
Standard examples are a supposedly unplugged iron or an unextinguished light, for the sake of which a person can return home two or three times. Here is the need to pull the door handle a dozen times, even if you have just locked the door with a lock and a bolt. Or, for example, regularly double-check if the email went to the addressee.
6. Obsessive counting
When trying to focus on something, many think to themselves. For example, they whisper: "One, two, three - let's go." This is fine.
But if a person counts the most unexpected things - for example, the number of trees a tram passes by, or the number of green peas in a brought salad, this is already a reason to be wary. It is even worse if the results of the calculations are alarming ("There are 13 peas in the salad, the waiter clearly wants to spoil me!") And are forced to perform some actions (for example, get one pea out of the salad and throw it away). This behavior is already a little beyond normal, yes.
7. Building life according to clear rituals
Maybe you put your socks in a drawer strictly in the order of the colors of the rainbow. Or at lunch, eat foods alphabetically: first drink broth from the soup (the letter "B"), then eat noodles (L), meat (M), and only after that - a boiled egg (I am the last letter of the alphabet). Or go to work with a single, strictly defined route. A step to the left, a step to the right - and you already have a panic in half with the confidence that the day will go “wrong”.
If you have any, even the most harmless, ritual in your life that is alarming to deviate from, it could be a sign of OCD.
8. Accumulation of things
A healthy behavior is to get rid of clothes, furniture or appliances that have become obviously unusable.
It’s unhealthy to think: “Let him lie down (stand), and suddenly it will come in handy one day”. And to do this 100 times, or even 200, until the house turns into a warehouse of old things. Inconvenient, but calm. And it fits well with the symptoms of OCD.
9. Obsession with relationships
Parting with a loved one, a quarrel with a friend, a conflict with the authorities. These are unpleasant, but quite common situations. Everyone has to worry, try to understand what exactly led to the breakup or scandal, everyone has to draw conclusions. But if the experiences and self-criticism last for years, it is worth asking for help.
What to do if you suspect obsessive-compulsive disorder
The best option is to see a psychotherapist. A specialist will help you figure out if it is really OCD. Perhaps he will offer you to take a blood test: sometimes excessive anxiety is a symptom of disorders in the thyroid gland, and then an endocrinologist's consultation is required.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder, if confirmed, is corrected with psychotherapy. The doctor may also prescribe antidepressants. All this will help to reduce the level of anxiety and get rid of obsessive thoughts and actions.
But it is impossible to hope for "it will pass by itself." The fact is that mental disorders tend to grow and worsen with age. And this can lead to very unpleasant consequences. Experts from the American research organization Mayo Clinic name among them:
- contact dermatitis from washing your hands too often;
- inability due to anxiety to go to work or other public places;
- difficulties in personal relationships, the inability to create or keep a family;
- a general decline in the quality of life;
- craving for suicide.
In general, obsessive-compulsive disorder is not something that can only be considered a personality trait. It is important to defeat him. Until this mental disorder ruined life.
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