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Symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

The symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder are usually witnessed during childhood or early adulthood, but are a mental health condition that is equally prevalent in males and females. The symptoms are wide, and varied, but never less than distressing for millions of people worldwide. Only through treatment can a person with OCD hope to make any kind of recovery.

The symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) are so serious they invade, and interfere with a person’s life for hours every day. Cases of OCD are varied but can be traced back through history, from the medieval Englishman spending 12 hours a day reading religious texts so as to be at peace with God, to the patient known as The Rat Man who had obsessive thoughts 1907 about cursing the famous psychiatrist Freud and covering him with dung. Even now there is no explanation as to why they had these urgent impulses, or why they felt compelled to behave this way.

There are many symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), but the most common include fears of contamination, of harming others, of worrying about locking doors and leaving lights on. These obsessive thoughts are countered by the OCD-sufferer when they go on to perform compulsive ‘rituals’ such as washing, checking, counting and re-arranging to alleviate the anxiety caused by the disturbing, obsessive thoughts. These acts can take up to an hour, or as many as three depending on the severity.

Unlike other members of society who might have strong desires, and compulsions when going about their daily business, a person with OCD is different because his or her thoughts and actions are intense, and based on fear and anxiety. Obsessive compulsive disorder is first and foremost a form of mental health illness that falls under the general category anxiety disorder.

The symptoms of a person with OCD might include any of the following: thoughts that they have hurt someone in a traffic accident; intense distress when objects aren’t ordered properly; the impulse to shout obscenities in inappropriate situations; avoidance of situations that could trigger obsessions such as shaking hands; images of hurting a child; the fear of being contaminated by touching objects that others have touched; replaying pornographic images in their mind; doubts that they have locked the door or turned off electrical appliances; dermatitis because of frequent hand washing; skin lesions because of picking at their skin; and causing hair loss or bald patches because of repeated hair pulling.

One of the main symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder is the fear of dirt or germs. This fear can get so intense, and extreme that someone with OCD may avoid leaving the house or refuse to allow people in such is their compulsion to prevent contamination. This might lead to someone compulsively putting gloves or face masks on when they do have to leave the premises. The fear of contamination can include a dread of environmental toxins such as lead, asbestos, or radon.

But it is not only the fear of germs and cleanliness that may cause someone with OCD to repeatedly wash their hands or body. It could also be as a result of the obsession for everything ‘to be right,’ or symmetrical. For instance, a person with OCD may be afraid to leave the shower unless they have washed the right foot as many times as they washed the left. This obsession with cleanliness is also very apparent in children who have obsessive compulsive disorder, and they are known to spend long periods in the bathroom washing their hands if they are overly-fearful of germs and contamination. Other signs and symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder in children can include avoidance of scissors or other sharp objects because they are fearful of harming themselves or others; ritual checking and arranging of their schoolbag causing chronic lateness or dithering; and counting or performing rituals leading to daydreaming.

The symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder may change over time with both children and adults, but the condition very rarely goes away on its own without treatment, and in fact in many cases the symptoms can grow worse following significant life changes or stressful events.

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