Just what is OCD?

December 16, 2007 by  
Filed under STRESS

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If you have been diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder, you may be wondering just what it is and where it came from. Obsessive compulsive disorder, otherwise known as OCD, is defined by the APA as “A mental disorder characterized by obsessions and compulsions, repetitive, purposeful acts performed according to certain rules or in a ritualized manner.”

Although the cause of OCD is technically unknown, obsessive compulsive disorder has been known to be onset by stress and is defined as an anxiety disorder. It is a condition that can affect anyone, no matter their age, sex or social status. In fact, according to recent studies, OCD is a leading cause of disability and affects approximately 5 million people just in the United States alone.

OCD, like other anxiety disorders such as bipolar disorder, is very complicated. There are numerous symptoms and not every person has all of the symptoms. Generally speaking, obsessive compulsive disorder manifests itself as the presence of persistent and even obsessive ideas, thoughts, and images or in extreme cases, impulses and irrational behaviors. People with OCD many times become isolated because their state of mind is apparent even without talking. It is not uncommon for people with OCD to be very depressed because they are at a constant war with themselves. They are forever repeating the same thoughts over and over in their head and when they are unable to stop thinking these thoughts; they spend all of their time trying to get their minds on something else. For this reason, people with OCD tendencies don’t always make the best of friends.

Where some people get into trouble is that they spend so much time trying to curb their obsessive thinking that they get into compulsive irrational behaviors, which takes their mind off the compulsive thoughts. Unfortunately, it is really a vicious cycle that never ends. It has been studied however, that people with OCD can benefit greatly from learning a new skill. Learning something new such as music, yoga, or anything that takes a lot of concentration, can greatly reduce or even temporarily eliminate the obsessive thought pattern. If you or someone you love suffers from OCD, the best thing you can do is keep their mind preoccupied on something meaningful or at the least productive.

Many people think that perfectionism is the same as OCD. Being a perfectionist can make you exhibit some of the same behaviors as someone with OCD, however when you are strictly a perfectionist, you can control your behavior. Wanting everything the best it can be is one thing, maximizing your potential is a great trait of someone who is defined as a perfectionist. However, people that suffer from OCD tendencies take perfectionism to a whole new level. Breaking down because something has been moved or touched by an outsider, numbering your socks or labeling them left and right is way over the top. These are not uncommon behaviors for people with OCD; it is however, not something a perfectionist would relate to.

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.

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