Do you have OCD? are you constantly checking things and wish you could stop? What are the symptoms and causes of obsessive compulsive disorder?
Obsessive compulsive personality disorder is sometimes referred to as an anxiety disorder. However, OCD doesn’t seem to be solely due to anxiety, as I will explain.
OCD is believed to affect about 1 – 2 percent of the population. It causes someone to feel anxiety about something. For example, leaving a household appliance on in case it causes a fire while you’re out of the house.
This fear causes the sufferer to check and recheck everything is turned off and unplugged, the checking eases the anxiety. However, we begin to doubt our checks and the anxiety comes back immediately after checking, which causes a person to check and check again, this can go on for some time. In more severe cases, someone can spend an hour or longer a day checking and rechecking.
Other Contributing Factors
While anxiety is perhaps a big part of this disorder, there are also other factors at play. Having obsessive and compulsive tendencies is also linked to the personality trait orderliness. Orderliness is a sub-trait of the Conscientiousness trait, which is one of the big five personality traits.
This obsessive personality trait seems to be largely motivated by the need for perfection, including the need for symmetry. Perfectionism is associated with the orderliness trait, as well as efficiency, order, including the need for excessive organization, and cleanliness. The causes of OCD seem to be a combination of the traits orderliness, and neuroticism.
Different Symptoms of OCD
Do you feel the need to constantly wash your hands or clean the house? afraid you might catch a disease and pass it on to a family member? This one is particularly connected to being high in (disgust sensitivity) which seems to be directly related to the orderliness trait.
Do you repeatedly need to check things? For example, making sure your windows and front door is locked, or that all electrical appliances are turned off and unplugged?
Do you have an uncontrollable desire to keep hold of things, even if you know you don’t need them anymore?
Do you need things to be arranged in a particular order? For example, needing your DVD disks to all be facing picture upright, or all the cash notes in your wallet faced up the same way? Plus, generally the need for symmetry?
Do you have to perform an action or say something (ritual) after a particular event happens, or after a bad or negative thought? Also called intrusive thoughts.
Are you superstitious about unlucky numbers, or other superstitions that influence your decisions to an extreme extent?
Most people will be able to relate to one or more of these to some extent. It’s just when the impulses become excessive, and it starts to negatively affect the person’s life, then something needs to be done. If you are reading this then your OCD is most likely causing you problems, and you are looking for ways to control it.
OCD normally starts in early adult hood. However, it can develop in people in their 30s, but it’s less likely. The symptoms of OCD can also change as we get older. One symptom may go or reduce and another may develop.
Causes of OCD
- Genetics has been found to be a cause, personality traits. if you suffer from it then there’s a good chance it has been inherited from a parent.
- Many anxiety disorders are thought to be connected. If someone has OCD there’s a good chance they also suffer from other forms of anxiety, for example social anxiety.
- A possible cause is having low self-esteem or a low self-image. Low self-esteem causes self doubt which can lead to fear and anxiety, and not having confidence in your own decisions and actions. This is likely to be connection to the personality trait neuroticism.
Treatments & Tips
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be used to treat OCD. CBT aims to change the way you think about certain things, to help prevent negative thinking circles.
Fitness is known to be great for easing stress and anxiety. Train, eat well and get good quality sleep. As the saying goes healthy body, healthy mind.
The effects of alcohol and other drugs can increase the symptoms of anxiety disorders, so cut down on the booze and whatever else you might be doing.
Checking things over and over is irrational, an irrational fear about something bad happening if we leave a plug switched on. Our minds can often go onto auto pilot when we obsess over things. One way to fight irrational thinking is with rational thinking. Sometimes we have to turn off the auto pilot in our minds and take control with rational thinking.
You can ease anxiety with positive self-talk. If you find yourself worrying about something, keep telling yourself it will be OK. Reinforce positive thinking by saying positive statements over and over again.
Self-doubt can creep in when we are not living in the moment and paying attention to what we are doing. It’s easy to let the mind drift and lose focus. If you have to check everything is turned off, make sure you are properly concentrating on what you are doing. This will help to reduce that anxiety and help to prevent self-doubt from setting in.