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Signs of OCD

Signs of OCD

Too obsessed with cleanliness? Feel an irrepressible urge to check the locks every 10 minutes? These could be signs of OCD! Read ahead to learn more about this psychological disorder.
PsycholoGenie Staff
Passion is a positive obsession. Obsession is a negative passion.
~ Paul Carvel

Well, negative or not but the premises of obsession are somewhat tricky. While it may be interpreted as complete involvement and dedication towards a particular belief, object or act, flip the coin and the other side presents you with a blurred line between your individual identity and the identity of the object of your obsession. When you're obsessed with something, your entire personality is woven around the object of your obsession and your behavior is defined by your relation, interaction and involvement with whatever it is that you are obsessed with. When an obsession assumes such personality affecting and behavior altering proportions, it could be the signs of a psychological condition that is commonly known as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Here, we would be discussing the various signs of OCD in order to identify the behavioral disorder from a harmless obsession and we would also be discussing ways to deal with and treat this condition.

Symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Primarily a type of anxiety disorder, OCD is characterized by the patient experiencing a constant feeling of uneasiness, apprehension, indulging in repetition of words, gestures and motions, fidgety tendencies, fear, involuntary thoughts that are mostly negative or anxiety inducing and constant worrying over the object of obsession. This disorder can take the form of a disability of such compulsive behavior, and repetitive intrusive thoughts start interfering with the common activities and regular individual functions of the person suffering from it. The most common symptoms and signs of OCD which may hint at an abnormal psychological condition are as follows:-
  • Frequent repetition of specific tasks to ease anxiety; for instance, washing hands with soap and water every couple of minutes or checking the locks on the doors at very frequent intervals.
  • Obsessive clinging to certain ideas so much so that more important things in life take a backseat.
  • Constant worrying about trivial or unrealistic possibilities such as constant fear of loved ones getting hurt or continuously anxious over the whereabouts of a family member 24*7.
  • Overindulgence in fidgety actions such as biting one's nails, picking skin, pulling out hair, etc., especially when unable to perform the compulsive rituals, to alleviate oneself of the anxiety over such inability.
  • Constant worrying over a particular matter more than the normal level of concern the matter at hand deserves. In facts, sometimes, these compulsive behavior traits or fidgeting may be a way to distract oneself from intrusive and anxiety causing thoughts.
There is another form of OCD, known as Purely Obsessional OCD, which is conspicuous by the apparent absence of the externally manifesting compulsive behavioral symptoms. In this case, the compulsive rituals may take a more covert from and the person suffering from this disorder may indulge in mentally going over the compulsive acts rather than performing them physically.

OCD in Children and Adolescents
Symptoms of OCD in children and young adolescents may be subtler than those in adults and it may often be difficult to tell for sure if those small, not-too-frequent behavioral quirks are indicative of a psychological disorder. The most prominent difference between children and adults having OCD is the fact that while most adult OCD sufferers acknowledge their obsessions as abnormal or freaky, most young and pre-adolescent children do not identify anything unusual about their compulsive habits. Also, children are often not able to define their obsessions in explicit terms. When asked why he keeps doing a certain thing over and over, the child most often replies that he thought it was the right thing to do or that he did so as he felt like it. On the other hand, most adults are able to explain the reason - the fear, thought or anxiety - that drives them to perform a compulsive ritual.

OCD Treatment
Dealing with OCD can be as much a challenge for the friends and family of the patient as the patient himself. The treatment of this condition usually involves a combination of medication and behavioral therapy. Severe and refractory cases may require electroconvulsive therapy or psychosurgery but these options may be considered only if medication and behavioral therapy fails to deliver the desired results. Methods that involve stimulation of the vagus nerve or the implantation of a brain pacemaker deep within the recesses of the brain may also be resorted to as an alternative to surgical lesions on the brain that may damage a few brain tissues.

Those were the pointers on identifying the signs of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Do you know about the biological aspects/causes of OCD? Well, this disorder occurs in people who experience an imbalance in the volume of their brain in different regions. An increase in the mass volume in the area of bilateral lenticular nuclei and a corresponding decrease in the mass volume in the bilateral dorsal anterior cingulate or the medial frontal gyri. Another biological sign of OCD is observed by way of abnormal activity of serotonin or imbalances in other chemicals inside the brain. However, this is neither a cause nor effect of OCD but this anxiety-regulating neurotransmitter abnormality usually accompanies OCD. This abnormality may occur as a result of a genetic mutation in the serotonin transporting genes may also be auxiliary in furthering the symptoms of OCD. An abnormality in the function of various brain circuits within the striatum may also lead to this behavioral disorder.