Behavioural problems and learning disabilities
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
What is OCD?
OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) is a special form of anxiety, in which one feels the need to perform certain routines repeatedly (called compulsions) and/or has certain thoughts repeatedly (called obsessions). Those thoughts and routines dominate the entire lives of many people with OCD.
Those who have a compulsive disorder suffer from urges caused by alarming feelings and by the actions they need to take to remove those urges. All to no avail. The alarming feelings are also called Obsessions. The actions for removing the urges are called Compulsions. And because there is no lasting result, they fall into a repetitive pattern. The urges arise time and again, followed by actions to remove the urges. That process disrupts one’s functioning and well-being: Disorder. This entire process is called OCD: Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.
What causes OCD?
Compulsion has a combination of causes. The following factors can make up part of that combination:
- Heredity. If one of your parents has an obsessive-compulsive neurosis, you are 3 to 5 times more likely to develop a compulsive disorder yourself.
- Childhood experiences. Growing up in an emotionally unsafe environment, with either little regard for feelings or with excessive concern, can cause a compulsive disorder.
- Drastic events that challenge one’s sense of security and self-confidence.
- Physical changes, such as after pregnancy.
Symptoms related to OCD
People with an obsessive-compulsive disorder can have either unwanted intrusive thoughts (obsessions), repetitive behaviours (compulsions) or both.
Compulsion is the urge to perform certain actions over and over again. Fear of contamination or dirt is an example of compulsion. Checking and needing things orderly can also become a compulsion. If the compulsion is not carried out, people with OCD become anxious and restless. Compulsive actions are often preceded by obsessive thoughts. Obsessive thought is the frequent occurrence of nonsensical, terrifying and unwanted thoughts. A well-known phenomenon is the obsession to injure someone.
Both compulsions and obsessions are known to be senseless and useless. Therefore, many patients are ashamed of their thoughts. Yet they can be so engrossed in these thoughts that it becomes impossible for them to function normally. People are afraid that something bad will happen to them or to other people because they are thinking negative thoughts. To get rid of this anxiety, they have the urge to complete a number of rituals in their mind. This is effective in the short term, but in the long term it exacerbates the symptoms because performing these rituals only feeds the breeding ground for their anxieties.
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