People suffering from OCD are not many, In fact only about 3% of adults have it and it is even less common in children. People generally mistake habits with OCD. However, there is a grey area between habits that we may have and OCD. For example, we may drive to work a certain way for the benefit of passing a favorite site , here we do not feel compelled to do so from a belief, but if we were to feel compelled to drive a certain route because not doing so would result in a car crash, such behavior could then be said to be OCD.
To come to any conclusion it is imperative to understand : What is an obsession?
As obsession is a thought which is recurrent and persistent or something which is inappropriate and unwanted. Now when the obsession continuous without showing any apparent cause, makes you distressed and make your life difficult, that is when intervention is needed. With obsession it is an image or thought that stuck with you and will only go away when you follow some other specific action and compulsion. In OCD, often the person will be aware that the original trigger for the action or compulsion, is simply a creation of their own mind, in spite of that they cannot get rid of these thoughts and images.
Now lets understand: What is a Compulsion?
It is nothing but a reaction to the obsession and must be adhered to rigidly, failure to do so will result in a major disaster. If someone suffering from OCD force herself/himself not to follow the compulsion may result in a huge increase in stress which can be released only by performing the compulsion. They have a feeling , by performing the compulsion repeatedly , they can actually get rid of their obsession. The sufferer knows it very well that performing these compulsion is illogical but as it worked at reducing the fear and tension in the past, they are compelled to repeat.
Are there any specific types of OCD?
Well, there are infinite types of OCD, it can impact on any thought, on any subject, on any person, on any fear, and frequently fixates on what’s important in a person’s life. Some of the known OCD’s are
- Contamination: a fear of things that might be dirty or a compulsion to clean
- Rumination : causes a person to spend an inordinate amount of time worrying, figuring out, trying to understand, analyzing or clarifying thoughts
- Intrusive thoughts: are usually disturbing and the person often tries to resist them
- Mental Contamination: Having a feeling of unwanted, being treated unfairly or feeling like you’ve been treated like a dirt.
- Checking : Confirming if things are done in right way for example, checking up of locks, alarm systems, ovens, or light switches etc.
- Symmetry or arranging : Wants things to be lined up in certain way.
Why people don’t open up and share their problems especially if it is related to mental health?
- Fear of being judged : One of the most common cause is fear and being misjudged. The reason could be that people recognize the negative sigma and discrimination associated with it and don’t want to be labeled as “crazy” or, “mentally ill”.
- Lack of awareness : A person my acknowledge that something is not normal but may not understand the real cause or consequences of it.
- Fear of hurting people they love : Their is a sense of hopelessness. They feel they might hurt their near and dear once as this is considered as a taboo in the society and people might isolate them and their family.
- Lack of understanding from others – It is very difficult to deal with someone with OCD as they don’t want to be treated differently. They don’t trust people as they feel no one will understand them.
- Distrust : Not everyone is comfortable sharing and when something is related to as delicate as mental health people become more conscious. They worry that their personal information won’t be kept confidential.
- Feeling of inadequacy ; Many people believe that they are inadequate or a failure if they won’t be able to handle this on their own.
- Other Barriers : these barriers are more practical like inability to pay for treatment due to financial hardship or lack of health insurance. Not having reliable transportation, child care issues and appointments for treatment that conflict with work or school schedules can also prevent someone from engaging in treatment.
When do you know that you need an outside help?
According to the research, in terms of brain chemistry, insufficient serotonin levels may be a cause of OCD and that brain circuits appear to return to normal after taking serotonin medication or receiving cognitive behavioral psychotherapy.
It really disturbs me when I see that most of the time OCD goes unrecognized. According to the Obsessive Compulsion Foundation, studies show that it takes an average of seventeen years from the onset of OCD until the obtaining of appropriate treatment. What do you think would be the reason? Well as far as my experience with my clients, most of the time sufferer keep it a secret, as they feel no body will understand and most importantly access to appropriate treatment is not always available. This is a pity as with proper treatment patient can avoid suffering and can lessen the risk of developing further problems. In some cases it has been witnessed that after treatment, patient was fully cured or in some cases they have gained symptomatic relief.
How can you help someone suffering from OCD?
Offer support and understanding
It is very important that you clearly communicate to them that you do understand the difference between behavioral symptoms of OCD and the person. When compulsions are visible you need to convey to them that you know it is not them it is their OCD. This will help to reduce the person’s feeling of guilt and low self worth and in return can also help in diminishing of their stress and anxiety. Once they open up and discuss it becomes easier for you to understand how it affects them and how you can be more supportive.
Do not Comply with OCD behavior
Some times you comply with their request and do what pleases them, as you find it much easier then dealing with the prolonged anxiety, fear, or arguments that may arise if you don’t do what is asked. But this can act as a hindrance in their recovery process if they are undergoing any sort of treatment. Yes, It is important to normalize family or household routines at the same time refuse to participate in reinforcing OCD behaviors.
Reach out for support for yourself and for the sufferer
Living with someone with OCD is not easy. Make sure you not only confide in someone who understands you and guides you . It is important to maintain your connections and supports among your extended family and friends. If need arises do not hesitate to consider professional support. Contact a telephone helpline for families of people with OCD and anxiety condition.
- Transcranial Magnetic simulation
(You can google and find out these treatments in detail or can consult your Doctor)
I strongly believe, self awareness and acceptance can solve most of the problems. There is a saying that goes “the first page of the book of life is a mirror”. By understanding ourselves we can start to understand the nature of all things. We humans have a habit of ignoring our subconscious mind. Something which troubles or disturbs us we conveniently avoid rather than own and confront them. Knowing your strengths and weakness, accepting that they exist and work on them as needed can help us overcome any obstacle in life.
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This blog post if part of the blog challenge ‘Blogaberry Dazzle’ hosted by Cindy D’Silva and Noor Anand Chawla.