What Exactly is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder? 16 Symptoms To Look For – Vol. 376, August 25, 2016
It is amazing to me how often I hear people say that they have OCD, or they know someone who has OCD, and yet, these are people who have not a clue what they are speaking about. Why? Because they have never learned how the diagnosis is made.
The first thing that you need to know is that about 2.3% of the population will experience OCD at some point in their lives, symptoms usually occurring before the person is 20 years old.
20% of people only have the obsessive thinking. 10% have only the compulsions. While 70% have both.
When one thinks of any common psychological problem, it is really a normal feeling or emotion that has gotten blown out of proportion to the point of interfering with one’s life. In the case of OCD, we are talking about a concern about perhaps getting sick from germs to washing hands 100s of times a day, sometimes to the point of red scaly skin.
I had a young teen client many years ago who wouldn’t walk around his home without his socks on fearful of getting sick. He wouldn’t touch door knobs and made his family wait as he took a very long time showering before being driven to school in the morning. So, you can see that this problem can cause problems for the family as well as for the individual. It can cause real distress, so please more mindful of the symptoms listed below when using this term.
1. Need for orderliness or symmetry
2. Fear of contamination by germs
3. Excessive doubt
4. Fear of sinful or evil thoughts
5. Fear of making a mistake
6. Fear of harming another person
7. Thinking about acting inappropriately or shouting obscenities
- Getting mentally “stuck”
- Repeated hand-washing, showers or bathing
- Repeating words or phrases
- Always arranging things in a certain way
- Constant counting during routine tasks
- Performing tasks a certain number of times
- Always checking on things like locks and stoves taking 10 minutes to leave or more
- Collecting or hoarding things of no value
- Pulling out hair (trichotillomania) or eyelashes
There seems to be some genetic component to this problem. Like most chronic problems OCD gets worse with stress. Medications really don’t seem to help much, though I have had some success in helping my clients to let go of their OCD. That young client got up out of the chair, and put his hand on the knob to exit the office. When he did this, his father commented – to which I told his father to observe and say nothing, allowing his son to act more normally.
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