Everyone has already been significantly preoccupied with a thought. Usually thought disappears and life goes on. It can also happen that everyone instinctively repeats certain actions, for example checking that a door is properly locked after removing the key from the lock. These situations are normal.
However, these situations take on exaggerated importance for people with obsessive-compulsive disorder. The affected person feels overwhelmed by uncontrolled and repetitive thoughts, which cross their mind despite their desire or will. The person is unable to stop having these thoughts, although most often they know they are meaningless. These thoughts then become obsessions. For example, the person may be afraid that they have forgotten to turn off the stove when they know they have turned it off. She may also be afraid of catching illnesses from touching everyday objects, such as doorknobs.
Subsequently, the affected person may also have compulsions. She then feels compelled to repeat certain actions to get the obsession out of her mind or to reduce her anxiety. For example, she may wash her hands repeatedly, sometimes to the point of injuring herself, to avoid infecting herself or catching illnesses. She may also repeat formulas, count objects, or ask others to do so, in order to decrease the chances of a negative experience.
The person may experience a lot of psychological distress because of their obsessions and compulsions. They waste a lot of her time every day and complicate her routine and daily activities. The person finds it difficult to deal with their work, social and family responsibilities.
The person who experiences these situations recognizes that their thoughts or behaviors are illogical, exaggerated or bizarre, but they are unable to control themselves.
In most cases, obsessive-compulsive disorder develops gradually. The person with obsessive-compulsive disorder may have only obsessions, only compulsions, or a combination of both. Obsessions and compulsions become more frequent or more intense over time.
Among the widespread obsessions is intense fear:
To become contaminated by contact with any object or substance;
Losing control or getting angry;
Forgetting something important, such as turning off the stove or locking the door to the house;
Forgetting or losing an item, such as a credit card.
Another known obsession is having sexual thoughts that completely occupy the mind.
Some of the most common compulsions are:
Washing your hands repeatedly, sometimes even to the point of injuring yourself;
Take several showers each day;
Do housework non-stop;
Constantly make sure that you have turned off electrical appliances;
Check several times that the doors are locked before going out or going to bed;
Devote considerable time to perfecting the organization and storage of cabinet contents;
Forcing yourself to follow the same route to work every day, and cross the street in exactly the same place.
The person can spend several hours a day with their compulsions.
Do not wait until you are no longer able to do your usual activities to consult. If you have symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder, you can contact certain organizations and associations related to the field of anxiety disorders. You can also get information, help and support here.
However, see your family doctor or other healthcare professional if you experience any of the following:
Repetitive thoughts occupy your mind and cause you distress and anxiety;
You feel compelled to repeat gestures or actions without being able to control yourself;
You have difficulty carrying out your activities and meeting your family, work and social responsibilities.
A healthcare professional can assess whether you have obsessive-compulsive disorder or another condition that has similar symptoms. To properly assess you, your doctor may need to check up on your physical condition or order lab tests. He will suggest a treatment plan tailored to your needs.
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