How is OCD not just an obsession with cleaning? We have come across many individuals who conclude that perfectionists and the organized individuals have an obsessive-compulsive disorder. The fact is that a diagnosis for OCD has naught to do with cleaning, as such. Even the fear of germs is a common obsession in OCD. Being responsible for a huge mistake or causing a horrific incident could also be obsessions of OCD.

What is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental disorder where people have repetitive, unwanted thoughts, ideas, and obsessions that make them feel obligated to do something over and over again. This recurring behavior, such as hand washing, cleaning, checking on things, etc., can interfere with one's personal life and daily activities.

This recurring behavior may not disrupt the person's life but could add structure to it. People who are diagnosed with OCD have persistent thoughts and rigid routines and behaviors. Failure to complete these tasks or failure to abide by these routines causes them great distress.

What are Obsessions?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder symptoms include the understanding of both obsessions and compulsions. Repetitive and persistent impulses, thoughts, or images that cause negative emotions such as anxiety or disgust are termed as obsessions. Many of those who are diagnosed with OCD know that their thoughts and impulses are excessive and unreasonable. Despite knowing, these are not resolved with rationality, reasoning, or logic. Most people try to suppress these emotions or habits with another thought or action.

Typical obsessions include:

  1. Harm or contamination,
  2. Need for precision,
  3. Forbidden thoughts,
  4. Sexual habits,
  5. Religious thoughts, etc.

What are compulsions?

Mental acts that one feels obligated to perform in response to an obsession are termed as a compulsion. The whole idea of these behaviors is to reduce stress on the person. Adhering to the rigid schedule of repetitive tasks makes their day more normal and easy to get through. In the most severe cases, the constant repetition of tasks may fill the day, but it makes a normal routine impossible. Being tormented by these rituals causes the knowledge that these compulsions are illogical.

Typical compulsions include:

  1. Completing tasks only in a specific order.
  2. Doing certain tasks only a specific number of times.
  3. Needing to count things like steps, bottles, pebbles, etc
  4. Fear of shaking hands, touching bolts or doorknobs, using public toilets, using public transport, etc.

Types of OCD

OCD goes far beyond cleaning and sanitizing. Despite being valid OCD compulsions, many fail to acknowledge the distressing thoughts that occur before such behaviors. There are infinite forms of OCD. However, all of those fall under these five main categories:

  1. Checking
  2. Contamination
  3. Order and symmetry
  4. Hoarding
  5. Intrusive thoughts

OCD and Cleaning

OCD is not just an obsession with cleaning. Cleaning by itself being OCD is a myth. Cleaning is only a type of OCD. Obsession with cleanliness is not the definition of OCD itself. Basically, OCD attacks anything that is on the top priority of one's mind. Compulsive cleaning is associated with the fear of contamination. Thus, it forms a part of OCD. This is often called OCD itself because it is the most common type of OCD among patients. This can be caused due to genetic or hereditary aspects. It can also be acquired due to stress. They can act as a relief from anxiety. Hence, it becomes one's compulsion.

Treating OCD

Over time, medicine has advanced so rapidly. We can find cures for many mental disorders. There are several methods to treat OCD. Here are a few obsessive-compulsive disorder treatments:

  1. Psychotherapy: Cognitive behavioral therapy helps one modify the way they think. With the help of a method known as exposure and relaxation designed to create anxiety or set-off compulsions, it helps one lessen rigidity in their thoughts.
  2. Neuro-modulation: This is generally suggested only for extreme cases. When therapy and medication do not make a difference, neuro-modulation is recommended. It involves the use of a device to alter the electrical activity of one's brain. It uses magnetic fields in order to stimulate the nerve cells.
  3. Medication: Drugs called serotonin reuptake inhibitors to help in controlling obsessions and compulsions. They take about 2-4 months to start working.
  4. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS): A device is held above the head to induce magnetic fields. This is not invasive. It targets only a specific part of the brain to reduce and regulate the OCD symptoms.
  5. Relaxation: Allowing the body to be completely free of stress helps in controlling the symptoms of OCD. Meditation, yoga, and massages help in relaxation.

Disorders that relate to Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Some conditions are separate from OCD. They involve obsessions but are related to other aspects. These share only a few attributes of OCD. These are:

  1. Body Dysmorphic Disorder: One cannot stop thinking about a perceived defect or flaw in their appearance.
  2. Hoarding Disorder: Collecting and arranging things in order.
  3. Excoriation: Repeatedly picking at one's own skin resulting in skin lesions and causing significant disruption in one's life.
  4. Trichotillomania: This is known as the hair-pulling disorder. It involves an irresistible urge to pull out hair from the scalp, eyebrows, etc.

Hence, this is how OCD is not just an obsession with cleaning. Haven't you yet understood the broadness of Obsessive-compulsive disorder in psychology?