Signs of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Signs of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a psychiatric anxiety disorder. If the signs of OCD are recognized in time, it can be treated. Read on to know about the signs of this disorder.
PsycholoGenie Staff
OCD, short for obsessive-compulsive disorder, is an anxiety disorder characterized by obsessive thoughts that compel a person to perform certain actions repeatedly. These actions can seem unnecessary for others, but they become an obsession for a person with OCD. Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a neurobiological disorder that can have genetic origins. Imbalance in the levels of neurotransmitters causes it.

Obsessions in a person are a result of abnormal levels of serotonin in the brain. A person with OCD experiences repeated thoughts of worry that make him do certain tasks repeatedly. He dwells on the same thought for long and performs certain tasks over and over again. Due to anxiety, he feels the need to perform those actions or tasks repeatedly.

Signs of OCD
As the name suggests, OCD is marked by obsessions (feeling obsessed with a thought or act) and compulsions (feeling compelled to do something repeatedly). Thoughts, impulses, or visualizations of certain problems lead to anxiety in OCD patients, and the anxiety leads to obsessive behavior. Often, the person knows that his/her thoughts are a result of imagination and that they bear no relation with reality. The person tries to get rid of such thoughts. Obsessions result in compulsions, which lead to repetitive behavior that is intended to reduce stress. A person performs certain tasks repeatedly in order to prevent from happening, what he imagined.

People with OCD show signs such as repeated washing of hands or repeated counting of numbers. Some patients show affinity towards particular types of numbers. They count and then recount, thinking what they counted previously was wrong. They are obsessed with numbers and counting. Their obsession for counting and recounting takes a lot of their time, making it difficult for them to manage their daily routine. They fail to perform daily chores and exhibit incapacity to perform their social roles.

Among the fears that are seen in OCD patients, the most common one is that of contamination, clinically termed as mysophobia. It is the fear of germs or the phobia of contamination by saliva, blood, tears, or sweat. A person with an obsessive-compulsive disorder fears the sight of human excretion. Some even feel that their soap or cleanser itself is contaminated. Their fear of contagion results in the recurring washing of hands.

People with obsessive-compulsive disorder sometimes exhibit an excessive need of symmetry. They are seen arranging things in a certain manner or making lists frequently. They find it difficult to discard things with a fear of needing them in the future. They think too much about their own appearance. Mostly, their worries and doubts which lead them to perform repetitive tasks, are not logical. They are based on superstition.

People with OCD make unpleasant imaginations. They often picture unfortunate things happening to them. They may have aggressive thoughts or inappropriate sexual thoughts. Sometimes they have thoughts of blasphemy, the use of the names of gods with disrespect. Many times, they are unable to ignore or overcome their unpleasant thoughts, and this makes them all the more stressed. Unpleasant thoughts may involve imagining violence. This includes thoughts of harming someone, or causing harm to self. People with OCD may feel urged to hurt themselves or others.

Obsessions related to sex include thoughts of intercourse or rape with strangers or family members. Patients of OCD give undue importance to their inappropriate sexual thoughts. These thoughts are accompanied by shame and embarrassment making them feel lonelier. It may also lead to self-hatred.

In Children and Teenagers
  • Apart from signs similar to the ones listed above, children with OCD also experience a fear of germs and contamination.
  • They believe in lucky and unlucky numbers.
  • They are obsessed with intrusive sounds and thoughts.
  • They have a constant fear of harm coming to them or their family.
  • Religious rituals, grooming rituals, and frequent ordering of things are the signs of OCD in teenagers.
Parents should be watchful for such signs exhibited by their children. A strange behavior characterized by thoughts or actions such as those given above, should be taken note of, as it may be indicative of obsessive-compulsive disorder in the child.

This disorder can be treated by means of behavioral therapy and medication. It is important to understand the signs and diagnose the disorder correctly. It should not be mixed with perfectionism or with showing deep interest in a particular subject.