What is OCD? More than Just Bothersome Thoughts

What is OCD?

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental disorder that impacts people of all ages. As a mental health disorder, OCD can affect people who are students, athletes, business, teachers, etc. As a result of OCD a person finds themselves caught up in a vicious cycle of receptive obsessions and compulsions.

Obsessions and Compulsions

Obsessions are unwanted, intrusive thoughts, images, or urges.  Obsessions can trigger intense anxiety and panic. Compulsions are behaviors a person repetitively performs in an attempt to get rid of the obsessions thoughts. Compulsions serve the purpose of helping a person reduce their anxiety temporarily.  Most people have obsessive thoughts and/or compulsive behaviors at some point in their lives, but that does not mean that we all have “some OCD.” In order for a diagnosis of obsessive compulsive disorder to be made, this cycle of obsessions and compulsions becomes so extreme that it consumes a lot of time and gets in the way of important activities that the person values.

Intrusive Thoughts and Rituals Obsessions are thoughts, images or impulses that occur repeatedly in one’s mind which can make a person mind feel out of control.  People suffering from OCD do not want these thoughts, images and impulses because of the anxiety created.  As a result, people find it hard/impossible at times to deal with this obsessions that are very disturbing to them. The majority of people with OCD recognize that these thoughts are irrational but still have difficult coping with the thoughts. Compulsions or rituals are the way a person tries to react or counteract to the overwhelming distressing feelings, as a result of the intrusive thoughts, images, or impulses.

How OCD thoughts affect people

Repetitive obsessions create intense and discomforting feelings such as fear, disgust, doubt, and uncertainty.  Overtime, obsessions become excessively time consuming and interfere with a person’s work, school, social and personal life. Examples of obsessive thoughts can be related to contamination, symmetry, religious scrupulosity, and in general fear of the unknown. As a result, people are constantly overwhelmed by what if thoughts and worse case scenario thinking.