The literature on OCD – a severe mental health disorder – is peppered with definitions. OCD is a term that isoften casually thrown about, with little understanding of just how serious this disorder really is. A person suffering from OCD is not merely somebody who is particular about neatness, cleanliness, or hygiene. The definition of OCD is telling: ‘Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) features a pattern of unwanted thoughts and fears (obsessions) that lead you to do repetitive behaviors (compulsions). These obsessions and compulsions interfere with daily activities and cause significant distress.’[Mayo Clinic: Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder]
Much of the available information on OCD focuses on the definition, and how this mental health disorder affects day-to-day life. Less focus is drawn to relevant examples of OCD in daily life. Today, we are going to tackle the most common obsessive-compulsive disorder symptoms, namely:
- Performing actions, tasks, duties, or responsibilities in multiples. This obsession can be related to any action such as locking the door three times because three might be a safe number. Or perhaps turning on the lights and turning them off seven times to ensure that everything is in working order. This fixation on a specific number is impossible for the individual to break.
- Concern about contamination is one of the most common OCD obsessions of them all. This fear is overpowering, and goes well beyond standard levels of cleanliness and hygiene. With a fear of contamination, the OCD sufferer worries about dirt, chemicals, disease, bodily fluids, bacteria, viruses, animals, bugs, and other carcinogens. This is a commonly occurring obsession with OCD patients.
- Indecision regarding what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. While many of us vacillate regarding decisions that we plan to take, with OCD it is substantially more pronounced. In fact, it is more of an inability to decide than it is indecision. The difficulty experienced by people with OCD when it comes to making decisions is well beyond what is considered normal.
- Constant fear of forgetting important details, and related concerns. This may occur with academics, work-related matters, social engagements, or day-to-day activities. Fear of forgetting the PIN code on an ATM card, house alarm, or certain telephone numbers, addresses, and other pertinent information. While being forgetful at times is human, with OCD sufferers, the fear of being forgetful is a crippling concern.
- Questions of morality are common with OCD. People with obsessive-compulsive disorder routinely worry about living their life in such a way that it is morally upright, respectable, and is socially accepted. Such are the invasive thoughts on this topic that extreme actions are often undertaken to try present as a person living a moral life.
- Fear of causing injurious harm, or death as a result of one’s actions is another irrational thought that creeps into the minds of OCD sufferers. For example, a person suffering from OCD may be especially fearful that they left the stove on, the dryer on, the iron plugged in, or the washing machine on, with pets left at home. The fear is that somehow, fire or flooding will result and the pets will die. The OCD fears are so severe as to cause tremendous distress to the individual.
- Grave concern about not being in control of your thoughts, emotions, or actions. This is another common OCD concern whereby the individual is scared of what may happen if they act out on their impulses. For example, saying something inappropriate to somebody because you’re thinking the thought.
- Obsessive sexual thoughts that cause tremendous distress. These could be deviant behavior, fetishes, or criminal-minded pedophilia. Even if the OCD patient does not act out on any of these thoughts, the mere existence of the thoughts causes remarkable distress to the individual.
- Unnatural concern about geometry in objects. For example, if you have OCD and this obsession, you may scrutinize furniture, fixtures, and fittings for congruence, symmetry, straightness, edging and the like. This type of obsession can be tremendously unsettling to the patient.
- Fear of embarrassment is another common OCD obsession. With this, you are gravely afraid that you may behave poorly in social situations.
There are certainly many other common obsessions that OCD sufferers struggle through, such as fear of evil, an extreme need for control, excessive self-doubt, fear of stealing things, and a fear of being responsible for a heinous crime. In all cases, a therapist, psychiatrist, or medical practitioner can work with patients to determine the best course of treatment. This typically includes a combination – a cocktail – of options such as antidepressants, antianxiety medication, psychotherapy, and possibly Deep TMS™ (Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation; the only FDA cleared TMS option on the market) too.