Many of us have heard of OCD but are not fully aware of what it really is or the symptoms it includes, without going into intense detail here is a brief explanation…
‘Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common mental health condition in which a person has obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours.’
If you have OCD, you’ll usually experience frequent obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours.
- An obsession is an unwanted and unpleasant thought, image or urge that repeatedly enters your mind, causing feelings of anxiety, disgust or unease.
- A compulsion is a repetitive behaviour or mental act that you feel you need to carry out to try to temporarily relieve the unpleasant feelings brought on by the obsessive thought.
There is no specific evidence to what causes an individual to develop OCD but here are some contributing factors.
- family history – you’re more likely to develop OCD if a family member has it, possibly because of your genes
- differences in the brain – some people with OCD have areas of unusually high activity in their brain or low levels of a chemical called serotonin
- life events – OCD may be more common in people who’ve experienced bullying, abuse or neglect and it sometimes starts after an important life event, such as childbirth or a bereavement
What’s it like to live with OCD?
Although many people experience minor obsessions and compulsions, these don’t significantly interfere with daily life, or are short-lived.
If you experience OCD, it’s likely that your obsessions and compulsions will have a big impact on how you live your life:
- Disruption to your day-to-day life. Repeating compulsions can take up a lot of time, and you might avoid certain situations that trigger your OCD. This can mean that you’re not able to go to work, see family and friends, eat out or even go outside. Obsessive thoughts can make it hard to concentrate and can leave you feeling exhausted.
- Impact on your relationships. You may feel that you have to hide your OCD from people close to you – or your doubts and anxieties about the relationship may make it too difficult to continue it.
- Feeling ashamed or lonely. You may feel ashamed of your obsessive thoughts, or as if they are a permanent part of you and can’t be treated. You might feel that you can’t talk about this part of yourself with others. This can make you feel very isolated. If you find it hard to be around people or go outside then you may feel lonely.
- Impact on your physical health. Anxiety caused by obsessions can affect your physical health.
OCD like all mental health issues is a daily battle, which at times can feel like torture. Knowing more and being educated on the illness itself helps others better communicate with friends, or family who may suffer from the disorder. For though it may not make sense to many of us for the sufferer it is their daily reality, trying to understand can make their battle that bit less lonely.
Read more on OCD here.