Do you ever find yourself obsessing about having to do something in a certain way or else something bad may happen? Are your thoughts so overwhelming that you simply have to do the activity before feeling better? If so, you may be experiencing a condition known as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
Over 500,000 Australians are affected by Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) every year. As the name suggests, there are 2 types of symptoms: the first being obsessions, which come in the form of unwanted thoughts, urges or images that repeatedly come to mind. Compulsions however, are repetitive behaviours or rituals that are difficult or impossible to resist doing, which are carried out to lessen anxiety.
It is important to note that a certain amount of worry in life is actually a good thing. Could you imagine if you never had a second thought about whether you locked the front door or turned off the oven? It is also perfectly normal to maintain a clean house and to prefer things orderly and neat. When your thoughts and actions are taking up more time than it does the average person, thats when it becomes problematic.
OCD is a tricky beast because it can sneak up on you. Over time the need to engage in particular activities (e.g. cleaning, organising, checking, touching things in certain ways) can gradually increase. It may start out harmless and then gradually take up more and more of your time with worrying thoughts and the “necessary” actions that follow.
Once they become a habit, obsessions and compulsions can have a detrimental impact to your work, relationships, and day to day activities. Someone with compulsions may believe that unless they re-read their work emails 10 times before sending, there will be errors which will reflect badly on their professionalism. Someone with obsessions may experience a disturbing image or thought that they can’t push aside, making them think that the thoughts must have meaning, when in reality these thoughts may not represent what’s actually going on. It is easy to see how situation around over thinking and consequently feeling the need to act on the thoughts could prevent you from functioning at your best, keeping you stuck in your head and unable to live in the moment.
There are proven techniques that can release you from the cycle that comes with OCD. The longer you wait the harder it may be to change the unhelpful behaviours. You are the boss of your life, and you have the capacity to take back control. Talking to a professional about how you are going is the most effective way to manage and resolve OCD. It’s never too late to turn things around and its important that you know you’re not alone.