Common OCD Symptoms
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a debilitating condition characterised by unwanted intrusive thoughts and repetitive behaviours or mental acts. We often think that it is closely linked to cleanliness and orderliness with sufferers spending many hours washing hands or tidying their home. However, it can manifest in a whole variety of ways. For example, some people spend hours each day worrying about whether they have done something absolutely terrible on a night out but have totally obliterated it from their memory. Others are plagued by the thought that they have a yet to be diagnosed serious illness or that something terrible is going to happen to the people they love.
Some of the most common obsessions that affect people with OCD include:
- fear of deliberately harming yourself or others – for example, the fear you may attack someone else, such as your own or other children. You may have obsessive thoughts of a violent or sexual nature that you find repulsive or frightening. But they’re just thoughts and having them doesn’t mean you’ll act on them.
- fear of harming yourself or others by mistake – for example, fear you may set the house on fire by leaving the cooker on
- fear of contamination by disease, infection or an unpleasant substance
- a need for symmetry or orderliness – for example, you may feel the need to ensure all the labels on the jars in a cupboard face the same way
Compulsions arise as a way of trying to reduce or prevent anxiety caused by the obsessive thought, although in reality this behaviour is either excessive or not realistically connected.
For example, a person who fears contamination with germs may wash their hands repeatedly, or someone with a fear of harming their family may have the urge to repeat an action multiple times to “neutralise” the thought.
Most people with OCD realise that such compulsive behaviour is irrational and makes no logical sense, but they can’t stop acting on it and feel they need to do it “just in case”.
My next blog will examine in more detail the types of compulsions linked to common obsessions.
Need some advice and support?
If you are struggling with any of the issues raised in this article, or indeed any other emotional issues or life challenges and would like to talk things over in complete confidentiality, call Alison Winfield, Mindfully Well Counselling Cork on 087 9934541.
Book a counselling session today!