Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
This anxiety disorder can cause people to have unwanted, recurring thoughts, feelings, or ideas that make them feel as though they must do something over and over. These types of behaviors may include repeatedly washing their hands, cleaning, or checking on things.
OCD generally starts during childhood, or early adulthood. Over two million Americans are afflicted with this disorder. It can have a negative impact on a person’s day-to-day activities, or how they interact socially with others.
People who suffer from OCD may have thoughts or impulses that can lead to stressful emotions. Although people afflicted with OCD may realize that these obsessions aren’t reasonable, they can’t avoid having those feelings. These obsessions may include constant fear of being hurt, fear of things becoming dirty, the need for things to be exact or symmetrical in appearance. Or sexual thoughts that they may consider to not be “normal.”
Compulsions are the repeat mental actions or behaviors that someone afflicted with OCD feels they must do, as the result of their obsession. In the most extreme cases, someone with OCD may have a series of rituals that they have to perform throughout the day.
These repeat actions may include a person constantly cleaning themselves or their surroundings, for fear of contamination (whether real or imagined). Other acts may include frequently checking to make sure a door is locked, that the stove is turned off, or anything else that may lead to someone being harmed if unchecked. Some OCD sufferers also feel a strong urge to place objects at home (books, DVDs, etc) in a specific order. Or to make sure that those objects are lined up perfectly and symmetrical.
This anxiety disorder won’t go away untreated. But with proper treatment, people who suffer from OCD may be able to deal with their disorder without having to perform certain rituals or repeat thoughts and actions.
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