After doing laundry, you have a habit of folding undershirts in a particular manner before storing them in your dresser. Does that mean you have a mental health condition called obsessive-compulsive disorder? Probably not, unless your behavior is so repetitive and severe that it affects daily life and harms personal relationships.
WHAT IS OCD?
“Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health disorder that affects people of all ages and walks of life, and occurs when a person gets caught in a cycle of obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are unwanted, intrusive thoughts, images, or urges that trigger intensely distressing feelings. Compulsions are behaviors an individual engages in to attempt to get rid of the obsessions and/or decrease his or her distress,” according to experts at the International OCD Foundation.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
People suffering from OCD have symptoms of obsession, compulsion, or some of both.
- Excessive handwashing and/or cleaning
- Arranging and ordering things in a specific way
- Constantly checking on things, like repeatedly checking to ensure the door is secured or that the oven isn’t on
- Compulsive counting
- Fear of contamination or germs
- Unwanted Thoughts about intimacy, religion, or harm
- Hostile thoughts towards yourself or someone else
- Having things in perfect or symmetrical order
In many cases, symptoms of either or both can be treated with medicine, counseling, or through a referral for ketamine therapy.
WHO’S AT RISK?
Like many disorders, OCD doesn’t have a definitive cause, but researchers believe some people are at risk depending on three factors:
- Twin and family studies have shown that people with blood relatives who have OCD are at a greater risk for getting OCD themselves.
- Your brain structure and how it functions. “Imaging studies have shown differences in the frontal cortex and subcortical structures of the brain in patients with OCD.”
- Environment in early childhood.
7 THINGS TO NEVER SAY TO SOMEONE WITH OCD
A lesson to learn about interacting with someone with OCD symptoms or another mental illness is that words mean something, they carry weight, and can affect a sufferer in ways you never imagined. Be thoughtful, compassionate, and choose your words carefully. There are several things you should never say to someone with OCD, such as:
- “You know, if I had OCD, I’m sure I’d be more organized and my house would be cleaner.” Because not everyone with OCD has a cleaning compulsion, this particular statement is discouraging and minimizes that individual’s personal struggles.
- “Can you stop what you’re doing, please?” Chances are, someone with OCD not only can’t stop what he’s doing, but this kind of statement further entrenches in his mind the urge to keep doing exactly what you’ve asked him to refrain from doing. It’s not an act of rebellion on his part; you’ve merely allowed him to focus more clearly on his OCD and continue the task at hand – leading to more anxiety and a range of unhealthy moods.
- “It’s all in your head” is a classic refrain that many people use in an off-hand manner to someone with OCD. It may be said to relieve tension but does the exact opposite.
- “Don’t worry, I’m kind of OCD sometimes, too.” According to psychologist Jeff Szymanski, being fastidious about your surroundings isn’t likely a sign of OCD, but rather an extension of your personality.
- “Just snap out of it.”
- “You’re like this because you don’t have real worries.”
- “Your parents were too controlling, it’s their fault.”
In fact, none of these are helpful for someone with OCD and can make their condition worse.
WAYS TO OVERCOME OCD
OCD doesn’t have to control your life. There are steps you can take to minimize it:
- Try self-help techniques.
- Build or engage with a support network of other OCD sufferers.
- Try peer support.
- Learn to manage stress through relaxation techniques and mindfulness to control OCD.
- Don’t ignore your physical wellbeing.
THE POWER OF KETAMINE
Self-help, peer support, and connecting with other OCD sufferers can help you learn to manage its symptoms, but in the absence of these resources, medicine or professional counseling may be attractive options. Regardless of which of those you may choose, the end result often depends on your commitment to getting better. Another option your doctor or therapist may refer you to is ketamine therapy. Ketamine is a medicine used for anesthesia and treating mental illness.
Everyone’s a little obsessive or compulsive from time to time. But it’s only when repetitive behavior becomes all-encompassing – interfering with everyday life and ruling your thoughts from morning till night – that you may be suffering from OCD. There are ways to treat the symptoms, including the use of ketamine therapy.