by Elia Strange
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) – is an Anxiety disorder involving unwanted, persistent, intrusive thoughts and impulses as well as the repetitive actions intended to suppress them.
There are approximately 2.2 million Americans diagnosed with OCD every year. To be diagnosed with Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) you need to have obsessions, compulsions, or both, and to be aware of their negative effect on your daily life. Have a look at what obsessions and compulsions are:
(1) recurrent and persistent thoughts, impulses, or images that are experienced as intrusive and inappropriate and that cause anxiety or distress
(2) the thoughts, impulses, or images are not simply excessive worries about real-life problems
(3) the person attempts to ignore or suppress such thoughts, impulses, or images, or to neutralise them with some other thought or action
(4) the person recognises that the obsessional thoughts, impulses, or images are a product of his or her own mind
(1) repetitive behaviors (e.g., hand washing, ordering, checking) or mental acts (e.g., praying, counting, repeating words silently) that the person feels driven to perform in response to an obsession, or according to rules that must be applied rigidly
- Impulse to jump out of a high window
- Idea of jumping in front of a car
- Impulse to push someone in front of a train
- Wishing a person would die
- While holding a baby, having a sudden urge to kick it
- Thoughts of dropping a baby
- Thought that if I forget to say goodbye to someone, they might die
- Thought that thinking about horrible things happening to a child will cause it
Contamination or Disease
- Thought of catching a disease from public pools or other public places
- Thoughts I may have caught a disease from touching a toilet seat
- Idea that dirt is always on my hand
Inappropriate or Unacceptable Behaviour
- Idea of swearing or yelling at my boss
- Thought of doing something embarrassing in public, like forgetting to wear a top
- Hoping someone doesn’t succeed
- Thought of blurting out something in church
- Thought of ‘unnatural’ sexual acts
Doubts about Safety, Memory, etc.
- Thought that I haven’t locked the house up properly
- Idea of leaving my curling iron on the carpet and forgetting to pull out the plug
- Thought that I’ve left the heater and stove on
- Idea that I’ve left the car unlocked when I know I’ve locked it
- Idea that objects are not arranged perfectly
And if you want more examples, then have a look at my other article on this subject: What is OCD.
How do you know if you have OCD?
If you have any of the above, and you recognise that your obsessions and/or compulsions are excessive or unreasonable, making you distressed, and interfere with your daily life, then you might be diagnosed with Obsessive-compulsive disorder and prescribed an appropriate for you treatment – psychological therapy and/or medical treatment (i.e. drugs), as I was mentioning in my other article ‘What is OCD’.
However, don’t forget that we all can have episodes of OCD in our lives, particularly when we are stressed.
When you are stressed, then it is difficult to focus on what you are doing, and this is why you might feel the need to check several times whether you locked the door or switched the light off when you left the room. If the episode lasts several days and you are ‘under the weather’ so to speak, then there might be no need for you to worry.
Also, we all might have some ‘weird’ thoughts and ideas from time to time. For example, many people might imagine that they are swearing and shouting at their boss or that they might catch a disease from touching a toilet seat in a public toilet, but it doesn’t make them diagnosed with OCD right away.
To have a diagnosis of OCD you need to have an obsession and/or compulsion over a longer period of time, usually from several months to several years, and have a clear understanding of how it disrupts your life.
So if you have occasional thoughts and ideas such as from the above, then you are probably ok.
However, if you have persistent obsessions and/or compulsions such as described above, for a long period of time, then see your doctor for a chat and advice.
- Davison, G.C., Neale, J.M., & Kring, A.M. (2004). Abnormal Psychology. (9th ed). USA: Wiley.
- Anxiety and Its Disorders: The Nature and Treatment of Anxiety and Panic (2nd ed)
- Durand, V.M. & Barlow, D.H. (2006). Essentials of Abnormal Psychology. (4th ed.). Belmont, USA: Thomson Higher Education.
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