An individual with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) has unreasonable thoughts and fears, or obsessions, that make him or her engage in repetitive behaviors, or compulsions. The person may realize that his or her obsessions are unreasonable. He or she you may opt to ignore them. This only increases anxiety and frustration. The individual, in turn, tries to perform the compulsive acts in order to ease the feelings of anxiety. Because of this, more ritualistic behavior ensues. It is a vicious cycle. Obsessive-compulsive disorder usually plays around themes, like the fear of being contaminated. To pacify these fears, the individual may repeatedly wash his or her hands until they are sore and hurt. In spite of all efforts, the thoughts keep returning. Both obsessions and compulsions are included in the obsessive-compulsive disorder symptoms. The OCD obsessions are persistent and unwanted thoughts and images that come involuntarily. The obsessions usually come about at random. Common OCD obsession themes include fear of dirt or contamination, aggressive impulses, sexual thoughts, and the need to have things organized. OCD obsession symptoms include: Doubt that you have turned off the stove or lights or locked the door Thoughts that you have hurt someone in an accident Frustration when objects are not orderly or in symmetry Fear of being contamination through handshakes Images of harming your child Desire to shout obscenities in unlikely situations Hair loss because of pulling hair Skin conditions because of repeated hand washing Skin lesions due to picking skin Replaying obscene images in mind
Avoidance of situations that may offset obsessions
OCD compulsions are behaviors that you cannot resist repeating. You repeat them to stop or reduce the anxiety or distress that comes with your obsessions. For example, if you think that you left the door unlocked when you left the house, you may go back to the house and check the door repeatedly because you cannot shake your doubts. You might also create rules or rituals that help you control the anxiety related to obsessive thoughts. Like the obsessions that come with obsessive-compulsive disorder, compulsions usually have themes. These include counting, checking, organizing, washing, cleaning, asking for reassurance, and performing the same movement or action. OCD symptoms related to compulsions include: Washing your hands until you damage your skin Checking the stove or oven to make sure you have turned it off Counting in specific ritualistic patterns Checking doors to make sure that you have locked them
Making sure all your boxed foods are orderly and face the same direction
Some people are perfectionists and like to keep things neat and organized. These people do not suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder. Obsessive-compulsive disorder can be very time-consuming. It can be disabling. An individual with OCD may not be able to do anything but spend time on obsessions and compulsions. An adult may realize that the actions and thoughts do not make sense and are uncontrollable. A child with OCD, however, is a different story, as he or she may not understand that there is something wrong.