If you have ever watched and enjoyed the quirky Detective Adrian Monk, on the popular television series Monk, then you are probably familiar with a condition called obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Though his obsession with flossing 10 times or touching every parking meter on his route might have come across as comical to us, OCD is a mental disorder that can seriously hamper everyday life.
Many of us link OCD to individuals who are perfectionists or have an obsession with doing things a certain way, but the condition has a wider spectrum of symptoms.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a mental ailment characterized by obsessive thoughts and compulsive actions. While some individuals may show only one of the two symptoms, some might have both. Stress might increase these symptoms, so many people with OCD avoid situations that can cause them stress.
Common obsessive thoughts associated with OCD include a severe fear of germs, a need for order in everything, suspicion (especially of a partner’s faithfulness) and a fear of getting dirty.
Some of the compulsive actions noticed in such individuals include the repetitive washing of hands, having a set routine for everyday tasks and an innate need to count commonplace things like steps or lampposts on the street.
Though most adults with OCD realize that their obsessions and compulsions do not make sense in the real world, the disorder denies them control of these symptoms.
Coping With OCD
There is no defined cause for OCD, but some think that it could be genetic. Some also believe that OCD may be caused by family history, a traumatic experience or abuse during childhood.
While there is no cure for this condition, its symptoms can be addressed and managed with the help of therapy and coping strategies. Keeping a journal is recommended to understand personal symptoms, triggers and successful coping strategies. For severe cases of OCD, it might be advisable to meet with a therapist who can guide the individual through different coping mechanisms.
Experts say that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and exposure and response prevention therapy (ERP) might be beneficial for dealing with OCD because it teaches deep breathing and mindfulness techniques to handle anxiety and stress.
Fortunately, for people suffering from OCD, a combination of talk therapy, CBT, ERP and support from loved ones could help restore normalcy to their lives.
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