What is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder composed of two elements: obsessions and compulsions.
Obsessions are best described as unwelcome thoughts, urges, feelings, doubts or images, that keep on repeating themselves in your mind.
For example, constantly thinking you haven’t locked the front door or experiencing the sudden urge to lash out and hurt someone. Obsessions such as these can be scary; they can take over your life and grow in intensity to the point where an ordinary lifestyle becomes impossible.
Compulsions are activities that you repeat over and over again because if you don’t you believe something bad will happen.
For instance, having to touch wood every time you have a nasty thought or image and becoming very agitated if you can’t find any wood. In which case you feel compelled to find a piece of paper to touch because it’s made from wood.
Another instance is repeatedly checking your front door to make sure you have locked it.
As you can see from this example, it ties in with the obsession mentioned earlier – feeling you haven’t locked the door.
Basically, the compulsion (the action of checking the front door repeatedly) is driven by the obsession (believing something bad will happen if the door isn’t locked.)
The anxiety caused by this ‘circle’ of thought and behaviour can be extremely stressful and the respite given by the compulsion is more often than not short-lived.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy has the most success with the treatment of OCD. There is an article on this therapy in the last blog.