Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or OCD is the result of anxiety.In order to understand obsessive thinking or compulsive behaviour you must recognize that people with OCD believe that their behaviour will help them lower their experience of anxiety.
Our brains are complex. We all have defence mechanisms and coping strategies to deal with stress and anxiety. It is important to know what your coping mechanisms are and ask yourself if they are helping you and most importantly recognize when they are only increasing your stress and anxiety.
What are obsessive thoughts or compulsive behaviors?
Obsessive thinking is when a person has unwanted and repeated thoughts or impulses that cause them a great deal of anxiety and stress. These can pertain to but are not limited to hygiene, sexual fascination, accidental or voluntary violence, uncompleted or unfinished tasks.
Compulsive behaviors are ongoing and repeated actions or mental rituals that someone carries out in order to reduce their stress and anxiety or fulfill an obsession. Examples of compulsive behavior (repetitive cleaning, hygiene precautions’, praying, phrase repetitions, ordering, checking, counting, hoarding etc…)
What causes OCD and who is Affected by it?
If you or someone you know is exhibiting obsessive or compulsive behavior the most important thing to remember is that it is an attempt to control their very real experience of anxiety. The problem is this type of anxiety is most likely not based in reality (see description of anxiety above). Young adults between the ages of 18-24 are at a higher risk of developing OCD although people of all ages are affected.
Obsessions and compulsions can change over time and can be more or less severe depending on what is going on in a person’s life.
Receiving psychotherapeutic counselling from a skilled Montreal therapist can help you recognize healthy and unhealthy behavior and thought patterns.
Do I have Obsessive Compulsive Tendencies?
- Worrying about contamination (germs on self or others)
- Have strict rules & protocols that you feel the need to live your life by in order to feel safe and “good”
- Constantly doubt your thoughts and actions (“did I do a good enough job?” “Did I make an error?” “ Did I offend someone?” “Is the door locked or the window closed?”
- Fear that you will accidentally harm yourself or others: “If I think about my mother getting sick then she will”…” If I don’t bleach the floor everyday my husband and children could get sick and die”…“I am capable of hurting someone I love…” )
- Need to have everything symmetrical, balanced and in order or objects in a specific order or arrangement to feel ok “ My shoes have to go from small to big or else I won’t feel right”.
- Have a specific phrase or ritual that you have to do on a regular basis to feel okay (rearranging your cupboards, switching the lights on and off, call every person in your family every night repeatedly to make sure they are safe…)
- Feel the need to confess things habitually to your close relations
- Have unwanted thoughts that you find disgusting or shameful (often related to sexuality, religion or violence)
- Stockpile food or supplies, or shop excessively. (Feel the need to buy 3 of everything)
- Expect your family or those close to you to perform ritualistic actions and preventative behaviors with you.
If you answered yes to a few of these and feel it is causing problems in your life it would be beneficial for you to seek therapy services from a Montreal psychologist or psychotherapist. Click here to set up an initial session.
OCD Facts to Remember:
- Obsessive and compulsive behaviors are a result of anxiety.
- Anxiety is normal but becomes a problem when it is not based in reality.
- Dealing with anxiety does not involve eliminating it but rather developing healthy and helpful ways to manage it.
- Gaining awareness is the first step.