A Description of OCD

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Obsessive-compulsive disorder is defined as a type of anxiety disorder that contains two different categories. The first of the two categories is having unreasonable thoughts and fears, phobias, or obsessions. These lead to repetitive behaviors, also known as compulsions, which are the second category. A person has to fall into at least one of the two categories, both categories do not have to be present, to be considered for OCD testing and diagnosis. Other than having obsessions or compulsions there are two other general criteria that one must meet before a diagnosis can be made. These criteria are realizing how excessive or unreasonable your obsessions or compulsions are, and how they interfere with your everyday life. These are the criteria set out in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), published by the American Psychiatric Association, which are necessary for a diagnosis of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Aside from the general criteria, there are several specific sub-criteria in each of the categories that one must meet as well. Let’s start with the obsessions. First, stress causing and intrusive impulses or images, recurrent and persistent thoughts. Second, suppressing or hiding from these thoughts, images, or impulses. Third, these thoughts are not worries about real problems in your life. Fourth, knowing that your mind produces these thoughts, images, and impulses. Compulsions have only two specific criteria to be met. First is the repetitive behavior such as hand washing to an extreme by washing over and over to the point the skin is raw. Repetitive mental acts, for example checking to see if you turned off the stove, are along the same lines as counting silently and are the second criteria for compulsions.

Many people may think they meet the criteria for OCD, but that is what makes diagnosing this disorder so difficult. There is a fine line between wanting your belongings to look nice or being a perfectionist, and keeping things spotless, but it is another to get down on your hands and knees to scrub the coating off of your hardwood floors because you are stressed out over the thought that there may be dirt in the cracks. The symptoms are also similar to depression, schizophrenia, and anxiety disorder among other disorders so even if you think you have the symptoms of OCD, it may be something different.

There are five main types of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder that commonly appear in sufferers. Washers and cleaners, or germaphobics, are described as people who have contamination obsessions. These obsessions can lead to many precautions such as, repetitive hand washing, showering, and clothes washing. It is also the cause of repetitive house cleaning. A person with this type feels that no matter how many times they perform these actions they just can’t get rid of the germs. This type of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder has become more widely known or accepted by the mainstream public because of the sitcom, “Monk”. The main character of this sitcom brings a humorous light to a serious condition and is actually educating the public in the process.

“Oh no! I forgot to turn the stove off! Did I lock the door?” These are just a few things people with the OCD checkers live with and fear every moment of their lives. Fear of leaving windows or doors unlocked, or not turning off an appliance causes fear that their actions may harm themselves or others, so they are constantly checking on these items. A lot of people walk out of their home thinking they forgot to turn something off, but individuals who suffer from this type of OCD do so to an extreme. Checking to make sure the iron or the lights are off becomes such a problem that they eventually cannot even hold a job or function in “normal” society.

When you think of OCD you think of being afraid to get dirty, constantly washing yourself, and always making sure your house is totally spotless, but did you know that...
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