Obsessive-compulsive disorder, also called OCD, is a type of anxiety, where one repeatedly experiences compulsive thoughts and/or behaviors. These thoughts or actions are ones which you yourself find annoying and even useless, yet you can still not stop yourself from doing them. You cannot let go of them. Even though you know that these thoughts and actions are uncalled for, you cannot stop them. Experiencing and processing these thoughts and actions can lead to severe suffering and feelings of anxiety.
What are the symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder?
To have a diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive disorder, the following criteria must be matched, according to the DSM-IV:
- The person in question experiences compulsive thoughts or frequent compulsive actions.
- The person in question is aware of these thoughts and actions being unnecessary.
- Doing compulsive actions and having compulsive thoughts leads to a significant suffering. It takes up a lot of time and interferes with different areas of life.
When speaking of compulsive actions we talk about actions which you need to do again and again in the same way. These actions repeat themselves again and again. For example, the number of times you need to wash your hands after having used the bathroom.
If the following criteria are present, we consider compulsive actions to be present:
- You are forced by a compulsive thought to go through with the action.
- The actions have the goal of preventing or reducing suffering or anxiety.
- The actions are not consistent with the goals that one has, or are exaggerated.
Compulsive thoughts are thoughts that return again and again in the shape of an idea, impulse, or conception. Often, people try to suppress these thoughts by thinking of something else or doing something else. You know yourself that you have produced these thoughts by yourself and that nobody else has caused them.
Compulsive thoughts, also called obsessions, are considered to be present if the following conditions apply:
- There are repeating and stubborn thoughts, impulses or ideas present. This is something which is experienced as something one is forced to have or something which is useless.
- These thoughts cause significant suffering.
Generally, obsessive thoughts and/or actions consider the following subjects:
- Obsessions regarding religion, sex, and the body
- Arranging and ordering in a symmetrical manner
- Cleaning and washing
- Collecting behavior
What are the subtypes of obsessive-compulsive disorder?
At the hand of the experiencing or absence of compulsive thoughts and/or compulsive behavior, we can differentiate between 3 different types of obsessive-compulsive disorder:
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder regarding compulsive thoughts
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder regarding compulsive behavior
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder regarding both compulsive thoughts and compulsive behavior.
The last type of obsessive-compulsive disorder is most common, because compulsive thoughts often trigger compulsive actions.
What are the possible consequences of obsessive-compulsive disorder?
Just like other types of anxiety, the obsessive-compulsive disorder has a large influence on your happiness and life. An obsessive-compulsive disorder mainly influences social functioning, personal functioning, and performance-focused functioning. Because of the constant repetition of thoughts and actions, you might miss fun things, be unable to study, or even start to avoid certain situations because you know that they trigger these thoughts and behaviors. After a while this can have a serious influence and eventually cause depressive symptoms.
People around you can also find that there are consequences present from your obsessive-compulsive disorder. Sometimes, the thoughts and actions can demand a lot from your loved ones because they are part of these actions.
Co-morbidity with obsessive-compulsive disorder?
Sometimes, an obsessive-compulsive disorder is combined with other mental and physical illnesses. Examples of disorders which can appear together with obsessive-compulsive disorder are the following:
- Substance abuse
- Eating disorder
- Skin irritations caused by washing compulsions
Do the anxiety test!
Do you want to know if you experience anxiety symptoms and if your suffering could be caused by eventual compulsive thoughts and compulsive behaviors? Then do the free anxiety test here, this test even being one which looks at depression and stress.