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What is OCD?
If you don't have the misfortune of having OCD, I'll set you straight on what OCD is in this section. If you do have OCD, or suspect you do, you can either read this to check your symptoms, or you can probably skip this section if you're sure that you have OCD, or have had it confirmed by a doctor. If you think you have it, but haven't had it confirmed, you probably want to read this anyway, just to prove to yourself that you're not crazy!
OCD is the acronym for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Obsessions are defined as recurring unwanted thoughts or worries, and compulsions being activities or rituals that you may perform to relieve the anxiety brought on by obsessions. The cause of OCD is generally accepted and reasonably proved to be a chemical imbalance in the brain, and has also been linked to the neurochemical Serotonin. A class of drugs called SSRI's (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) have been shown to be effective in helping to treat OCD.
There are several generally accepted subdivisions of OC's. Amongst them are Washers, Checkers, Cleaners, Hoarders, Repeaters, Orderers, and Pure Obsessives.
Washers are those OC's that generally have a fear of germs, dirt, or contamination from substances like bodily fluids, dirt, dust, bacteria, viruses, excretions, and the like. Washers that are compulsive can spend hours washing themselves, or parts of their body, to the exclusion of all else, trying to rid themselves of "contamination". They may also avoid contact with things to avoid being "contaminated". One of the most striking things about the spread of contamination is that the "contaminant" can (in the OC's mind) be spread from object to object without actual physical contact.
Cleaners are those OC's that feel that other things are contaminated or dirty, and spend much time cleaning their surroundings. For instance, a cleaner might spend hours dusting their home, and then go back and start again as soon as they have finished, because dust has settled in the interim.
Checkers have a problem remembering or being sure that they have or have not done something, and therefore go back to check whether they have or not. For instance, a woman might turn off the stove, but be compelled to go back and check 20 times, or even 100 times to be sure that it is indeed turned off.
Hoarders collect things...almost anything. They usually cannot even stand to throw away garbage, and often will let it just sit around them. An inability to get rid of things is the significant symptom of this class of OC.
Repeaters are OC's that feel compelled to do things a "right" number of times. This may serve to protect them from some imagined danger, or prevent possible harm to themselves or a family member. Repeaters generally fear that if they do not do things the "right" number of times, something bad will happen, although some may just have to do things "just right" for no apparent reason.
Orderers have to have things organized absolutely "the right way". An orderer might be reluctant to let anyone touch their possessions, lest they be misarranged. Orderers might spend hours just aligning a piece of paper on a desktop, or straightening a bookshelf.
The last type is the Pure Obsessive, which is also the most difficult OC to treat. These OC's suffer from obsessive thoughts of a disturbing nature, generally. An example might be a person who constantly obsesses over whether they will hurt their child, even though they know they wouldn't...they can't stop worrying that they might.
OCD can range from a mild nuisance, to a very debilitating affliction. Some people might be unable to act "normally" or may be unable to function at all in social or workplace settings...or even at home, if the situation is bad enough.
The good news is that there are ways OC's can be helped. These treatments range from cognitive behavioural therapy, to drug treatments, to neural surgery. There are options out there, and if you have OCD, and have not already taken steps to get help, I strongly advise you seek the help of a professional. There are also a few good books for you to read, which you can find in the books section of this server.
If you have a friend or family member with OCD, PLEASE be supportive. That person needs as much understanding and support as they can get! As a sufferer from OCD, I know how hard it can be to deal with this disorder. It's even harder if nobody understands, or supports you in your effort to deal with it.
Best wishes, and God bless!
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