What is obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)?
OCD is a real illness that can be treated with medicine and therapy. When you have OCD, you have recurring, upsetting thoughts (called obsessions). You repeat doing the same thing, over and over again (called compulsions) to make the thoughts go away. You feel like you can't control or stop these thoughts or actions. The obsessions, or upsetting thoughts, can include things like a fear of germs, a fear of being hurt, a fear of hurting others, and disturbing religious or sexual thoughts. The compulsions, or actions you repeat to make the thoughts go away, can be things like counting, cleaning, hand washing, and checking on things. While these actions provide only short-lived relief, not doing them only increases anxiety.
OCD is an anxiety disorder that can be life-long. A person with OCD can also recover and then get the illness again, or relapse. This illness affects women and men in equal numbers. Most often, OCD begins during the teenage years or early childhood, although it can start in an adult.
The exact cause of OCD is not known. Researchers are looking at differences in brain activity among people who have OCD and persons who do not, for clues about its cause. OCD is not caused by family problems. Nor is it caused by something in a person's childhood, such as an unusual focus on cleanliness, or a belief that certain thoughts are dangerous or wrong. It's important to know that when a person has OCD, it's not her or his fault.
What are the symptoms of OCD?
OCD shouldn't be confused with sometimes acting "compulsive." Individuals who act this way expect a lot from themselves, are very organized in their work and play, and are sometimes called "perfectionists." This type of "compulsiveness" often has value in a person's life. It can help a person feel good about themselves and help them be a success on the job. It differs greatly from OCD, which is an illness that can have a devastating effect on a person's life.
I have an ex-colleague who is a "Washers and Cleaners" OCD type. He spends about 10 minutes in the toilet and pantry just washing his hands... other colleagues have said that this guy will just stand and wash and wash and wash his hands over and over again. Worse is when he had a cold, he wouldn't even cover up his mouth when he sneeze. He'd just look to his sides and sneeze away. We'd be all totally grossed out with his behaviour and whenever we went to his cubicle to discuss on some programming stuff, we'd look around and make sure we're like 1-2 feet away in case he suddenly sneezes at our direction... Eeeeee....
I think I am of the "Checkers" type of OCD.
Checkers: Checkers feel compelled to check objects such as door locks and “off” settings on household appliances. They live with an excessive, irrational fear that harm will be brought to themselves or others because of a failure to check and recheck things. They often visualize horrific catastrophes in which they are to blame for a lack of responsibility. Checkers often develop elaborate checking rituals that make it difficult for them complete daily tasks.
I used to have this habit of checking locks and doors and switches.. making sure they are properly locked, closed, off, etc before going out anywhere. But ever since I quit my job and stay home to care for Ben, I don't pretty much venture out and even if I do, MIL will be at home so hopefully this OCD habit of mine will die out in time...