The word ‘obsessive’ gets used commonly. This can mean different things to different people. Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a type of anxiety disorder. In this condition, the person suffers from obsessions and/or compulsions that affects their everyday life, like going to school on time, finishing homework or being out with friends.
What are the symptoms?
An obsession is a thought, image or urge that keeps coming into your mind even though you may not want it to.
An obsession can be annoying, unpleasant or distressing and you may want it to go away.
An example of an obsession is the thought that your hands are dirty even though they are not. Different people have different obsessions.
Here are some examples:
- fears about dirt and spreading disease
- worrying about harm happening to you or someone else
- fearing that something ‘bad’ may happen
- worrying about things being tidy
- worrying about having an illness.
Having an obsession often leads to anxiety or feeling uncomfortable and you may then have the urge to ‘put it right’. This is where compulsions come in.
Compulsions are things you feel you need to do usually to control your ‘obsessions’, even though you may not want to. You might even try to stop doing them, but this might not be possible.
Often, a compulsion means doing something again and again, as a ‘ritual’. By doing the compulsion you feel you can prevent or reduce your anxiety about what you fear may happen if you don’t do it. For example, turning the light on and off 20 times because you worry something bad may happen if you don’t.
Different people have different compulsions. Some examples include:
- thinking certain thoughts
- ordering/arranging things or lining things up
Individuals who have these problems often try to avoid any situation that might set off obsessive thoughts (e.g. not using hands to open doors).
When obsessions and compulsions take up a lot of your time, interfere with your life and cause you distress, it becomes obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).