by Bertil Hjert
Are you neat? Do you like to keep everything organized, orderly and tidy?
While these are great character traits in the normal course for both your work environment and your home environment, they can become confining when taken to an extreme.
If you have obsessive-compulsive disorder, you take these tendencies to both an extreme and disruptive degree.
If you spend so long organizing the pencils on your desk that you can’t complete the project you’re working on in a timely manner, then obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD has impacted your life.
As with any anxiety disorder, the key component to a diagnosis is the disruptive impact the condition has on your life.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder can manifest in many ways.
Some people have to clean doorknobs or others avoid stepping on cracks in the sidewalk, check the windows and doors in the house multiple times, count or order everything they come into contact with or spend hours washing their hands, fearing they have been contaminated with germs or poisons.
[Photo: Adrian Monk (Tony Shalhoub) as a brilliant detective with obsessive compulsive disorder, in the tv series ‘Monk’ – trying to avoid the “unclean” rungs while climbing a ladder.]
For movie fans, Jack Nicholson suffered from OCD. He avoided cracks in the sidewalk, worried about germs, locked and unlocked his door a certain number of times and washed his hands until they were raw.
The impact on both your life and your physical and mental well being can be profound.
At the root of obsessive-compulsive behavior is deep anxiety and often depression. It is important that you get help if you suffer from obsessions, compulsions or both.
There are two components to obsessive-compulsive disorder.
The first element is obsessions. They are recurring ideas, thoughts, or images, and can range from an unshakeable feeling that you have hit someone with your car, to fear that every discoloration on your food is a poison waiting to kill you or a loved one will suffer harm if you don’t do something.
The obsessions are intrusive, unwanted and usually quite disturbing. Violent thoughts or images can continue to pop into your mind, your own death or the death of someone you love can figure prominently in your obsessions.
They can also revolve around the more mundane, leaving the lights on, appliances running, doors open or the house unlocked.
Compulsions are behaviors or rituals that you undertake to reduce or eliminate the anxiety caused by your obsessions. The urges are actually a self-soothing technique. However, they can be taken to an extreme and irreparably damage your life. Things can start out small but have a snowball effect if left unaddressed.
Examples of compulsions can be checking your rearview mirror constantly or retracing your route to reassure yourself you didn’t hit someone with your car, or checking the stove over and over to make sure you didn’t leave it on.
You can have obsessions without having compulsions.
Moreover obsessions often lead to depression. The thoughts can be so powerful and disturbing that not only do they cause depression but they also cause phobic avoidance. OCD sufferers who fear germs will avoid public bathrooms, touching door handles or interacting with the germ filled surfaces they so fear.
Unfortunately, if left unchecked or untreated, it is possible for the cycle of anxiousness and reactions to those feelings to spiral out of control.
A fear of using public toilets can become a fear of using any toilet, even the one in your home.
Compulsion sufferers can be men or women, although the type of compulsion may vary depending on your gender.
Women are more often cleaners and men are more often checkers and both can be counters.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder affects both males and females relatively equally. It can crop up in childhood, early adolescence or adulthood.
Obsessive-compulsive sufferers are definitely not crazy and they certainly recognize the excessiveness and irrationality of both their obsessions and compulsions and are usually incredibly frustrated dealing with it.
>> Download your free eBook “Stop Panic Attacks and Deal with Your Anxious Thoughts” at Panic Goodbye.
See more articles by Bertil Hjert.
Bertil Hjert is author of the Panic Goodbye program.
This program includes 7 eBooks about:
- relieving Panic and Anxiety Attacks,
- OCD, and
- Social Phobia;
- using Abdominal Breathing & Meditation,
- Body & Mind relaxation,
- Yoga & Progressive Muscle Relaxation.