Rituals are part of our everyday lives, but for someone with obsessive compulsive disorder, however, rituals are the mind’s way of blocking out upsetting thoughts. They may wash their hands repeatedly to rid them of invisible contaminants or repeatedly check their wallet for fear their money may have slipped away unnoticed. These repetitive acts go beyond healthy routines and can often interfere with daily functioning.
Understanding Obsessive Compulsive Disorders
Obsessive compulsive disorder, OCD, is thought to be an anxiety disorder that causes ordinary worries and doubts to amplify. Individuals may or may not realize their ritualistic behavior is senseless, but they are powerless to stop it. Often, individuals with OCD may have difficulty arrive on time because of their rituals. For instance, they may repeatedly dress and undress to perfect the routine and never make it out the door.
Signs and Symptoms of OCD
You might have an obsessive compulsive disorder if rituals are interfering with your daily life. Those diagnosed with OCD may also have intrusive thoughts about hurting themselves or others or having impulses to do socially unacceptable things following rituals. Some individuals are preoccupied with life order, while others may have difficulty throwing away things and may result to hoarding. OCD is often associated with motor tics or twitches, ADHD, eating disorders, or Bipolar Disorder; if left untreated, it can become emotionally debilitating.
An obsession is a recurrent impulse, thought, or image that the individual cannot seem to escape. Even though these thoughts may be viewed as senseless, they tend to interfere most when the focus is on something else.
Here are a few of the obsessions and symptoms that someone with OCD may exhibit:
- Preoccupation with dirt and germs
- Images of hurting his/her child
- Excessive focus on religion
- Obsession with order
- Sexually explicit thoughts
- Fear of losing things
- The impulse to shout obscenities
- Compulsive hair pulling
- Making mistakes
- Fear of touching objects that have been touched
- Anxiety over hurting oneself or others
- Dermatitis due to hand washing
- Excessive focus on morality
- Obsession with superstitions
- Intrusive violent thoughts or images
- Fear for safety
- Skin lesions (due to picking)
- Fear of “unlucky” numbers
- Fear of doing something bad
A repetitive thought or action used to relieve anxiety, for instance, a preoccupation with a fear of contamination, may result in continuous hand washing to reduce those feelings. However, the compulsive acts usually provide only temporary relief from the obsession.
Here are a few of the compulsions and symptoms that someone with OCD may exhibit:
- Ritualistic counting
- Hoarding possessions
- Obsessive “checking
- Repetitive motions or activities
- Repeatedly checking the stove
- Obsessive cleaning
- Placing items “in order”
- Need for constant reassurance
- Washing skin until it becomes raw
- Counting in patterns