What is Obsessive-compulsive Disorder (OCD)?
Have you ever been fixated on one particular matter? Are you taking way too long to wash your hands? Are you checking every single door is locked at night? Are you obsessing over small little details that don’t require much attention? If so, you may have OCD.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) can be defined as an anxiety disorder that includes uncontrollable, unwanted thoughts and repetitive, ritualized behaviours you feel compelled to perform or have.
However, don’t worry too much as you are not alone. For many people, having OCD can be an isolating, worrying, and depriving experience. It may rid you of your energy and even social life.
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According to a study published by ‘Time Out Abu Dhabi’, 20% of Americans with a mental disorder are diagnosed with OCD. Whereas here in the UAE, 5% of Emiratis with a mental disorder are diagnosed with OCD. Though there are far fewer cases of OCD in the UAE compared to the US, it is still a serious matter and needs the full attention of our community and society as a whole.
Many people who have OCD but are unaware of the condition is because they don’t seek help for it and are unsure how serious their mental condition is. According to the American Center’s medical director, Dr. Yousef Abouallaban, this is often because people don’t recognize what the extent of there can be classified as OCD.
“In the UAE, because of the lack of awareness, people think the ideas they are having are strange, ridiculous, absurd, so they feel ashamed to talk about them in front of anyone and don’t come forward,” says Dr. Yousef.
Fortunately enough, like all mental health disorders, you can treat and manage OCD through self-treatment and professional health. Firstly you have to know the symptoms of OCD and if they may apply to you.
Symptoms of OCD Include:
- Trying to organize physical property and possessions in a neat, organized and even symmetrical manner
- Fear of causing physical harm to yourself or people around you
- Obsessively trying to check on the safety of friends or loved ones
- Excessive thinking or focus on personal morals or societal ethics
- Fear of losing or misplacing items that you may deem as important for later
- Behaviour and thinking caused by the belief in superstition
- Counting, tapping, repeating certain words or phrases to reduce anxiety.
- Spending a lot of time washing or cleaning
- An excessive amount of double-checking things such as locks, switches, placement of physical items
- Ordering, evening out, or arranging things “just so.”
- Praying excessively or engaging in rituals triggered by religious fear.
- Collecting or hoarding “junk” for no reason in fear of not losing something important
The Harm of Obsessive-compulsive Disorder
1. Lost time and energy
Having OCD is a mental health condition that will demand a lot of your time and energy. And most of the times, this time and energy go towards things that are not constructive, don’t provide any helpful outcomes and can create an unproductive lifestyle.
OCD also demands lots of physical and mental energy as you are constantly focusing on things that require attention in the finest of details.
2. Straining relationship
People who suffer from OCD often don’t come out or seek help for their condition s they are either in denial or feel embarrassed or ashamed to have a mental health condition.
This can put strains in your ability to socialize with people, including friends and family. This can also lead you to isolate yourself from others in the fear that you may be judged or looked down upon.
3. Poor lifestyle habits
Though OCD requires people to focus and overthink on small and insignificant matters, this mental health condition can turn into a habit and can make the person who has OCD fall into bad habits that will harm their overall lifestyle.
This can lead them to become hoarders, frantically keeping possession in a neat and tidy manner or constantly engaging and performing odd rituals and behaviours. If OCD is left untreated, it can develop into other more concerning mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
Treating OCD is not as simple as it sounds as with all mental health conditions, you can only treat them as long as you are self-aware of yourself. Spotting out OCD in others can also be tricky sometimes as you need to be able to assess the levels of their odd behaviours.
By the time you can see excessively odd behaviour in others, it may be more difficult to treat. By identifying and addressing OCD in its early stages, this is the best way to treat it and manage it before it gets out of hand.
It is also important to pay attention to children if they are showing symptoms of OCD as they are unlikely to understand, admit or even know if they have a mental health condition.
1. Self treatment
People who are diagnosed with OCD and want to make a positive change to their habits, can treat themselves by performing small, but daily and habit-forming practices and techniques. This includes:
- Refocusing your attention to matters you know are productive and worth the attention.
- Set aside time for a daily worry period. If panicking or dreading something has been your safety mechanism to help you cope through your day. Set a time for it but don’t let it hinder your progress or attention to other matters. It’s ok to worry, but try not to let it get in the way of your daily life.
- Anticipate urges to help ease them. Plan out your day and organize your priorities. This will minimize your need to worry later.
2. Seek professional help
Self-treatment can only go so far in managing OCD. Proper and helpful self-treatment also heavily relies upon advice from a professional. You can speak with a psychiatrist on developing ways to manage your OCD.
You can also speak with your doctor on and even prescribed with medication. Seeking help from your medical practitioner should be the first thing you do if you notice symptoms of physical and even mental health complications.
Head over to the Okadoc app to immediately book an appointment with your health practitioner.
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