Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, otherwise known as OCD, is a mental issue characterized by patterns of fears or unwanted thoughts that eventually lead to repetitive behaviors. This is where the term compulsive has been coined from. Now, OCD tends to interfere with a person’s daily activities, their relationship, plus it can cause distress and anxiety. Some of the common symptoms of OCD are repetitiveness, rumination and intrusive thoughts, endless self-doubt, fear of germs, obsession with symmetry, and compulsive behaviors. A point to note, though. People with or without OCD will have repetitive or distressing thoughts. But, those behaviors and ideas do not distract their daily life. In OCD patients, the thoughts are persistent and their behaviors are rigid. A failure to stick to the cycle will cause them major distress. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Let us delve in deeper and tell you more about OCD.
Factors linked to Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
The effect of sleeping patterns & habits
Sleeping well is very crucial in OCD control and management. Yes, when and how many hours you sleep plays a vital role in predicting your ability to control or resist abusive thoughts. Generally speaking, sleeping patterns and habits are crucial to your general well-being. It is even more so for people with OCD. The problem is that sleeping for people with OCD can be a vicious cycle. You might struggle to sleep, a feat that can worsen the disorder.
Going to bed way past midnight is closely associated with a lower control of compulsive behaviors or obsessive thoughts. You might end up suffering from repetitive and intrusive thoughts. There are many ways to improve sleep patterns. One way is to improve your sleep environment, managing worries, doing physical exercises, etc. Lightbox therapy is another way to enhance the quality of sleep and quantity.
The effect of pent-up anger, stress, and guilt
Anger, stress, and guilt are not known to cause OCD. That said, when a person with OCD internalizes anger and guilt, the symptoms may worsen. People with the condition may perceive guilt as more threatening. Impulses or thoughts that might inspire guilt may lead to extreme anxiety or compulsive behaviors.
It is normal for a parent to protect their children when they are growing up. On the flip side, overprotecting children can increase their vulnerability to OCD. For example, having rigid rules forced on them might pose a risk of them developing the condition. It might also happen to children who are given too many responsibilities at an early age. Some common obsessions among children with OCD include; worrying about bad things that may happen, the continuous feeling that things must be “just right”, the preoccupation of symmetry or order, unwanted thinking of violence like harming others, or worries of them or others getting sick.
As a parent, you ought to be careful to spot these obsessions early and seek assistance for the child.
Fear of losing control
People with this mental illness will tend to have manipulative fear and belief of losing control. This is one reason behind the check and rechecking behavior. In addition, people who fear losing control and maybe cause harm to themselves. Others might also engage in mental or physical rituals. Some common rituals are repeating counts, phrases, or specific words, seeking reassurances, or seeking clarification.
Again, professional counseling and guidance may be required to help in treatment.
Exposure to certain bacteria
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder has also been linked to streptococcal infection, albeit on infrequent occasions. Streptococcal infection is associated with a pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorder. It is referred to as PANDAS and affects children between 4 and 14 years old. OCD occurs when the body’s immune system responds wrongly to strep infection and instead targets the brain. The good thing is that streptococcal infection can be treated with antibiotics.
Children born prematurely or children who experience stress during delivery are also likely to develop OCD during young adulthood or adolescence. Stressful birth, in this case, includes cesarean section delivery, low or high birth weight, breech presentation at labor, preterm birth, smoking during pregnancy, among others. The higher the level of stress during pregnancy and delivery, the higher the stress absorbed by the infant. It might have a long-term effect on the health and well-being of the newborn. This is where the provision of high-quality prenatal care and a smooth birth experience comes in handy. It will support both the well-being of the mother and the baby.
The good side of OCD
The condition is not all that bad! It also has some positives for patients. For example, they are often detail-oriented, very organized, careful, and rarely miss deadlines or even make errors. They are unique, very creative, reliable, and dependable since they value certainty and predictability in life. They succeed easily due to extra determination. People with OCD are also meticulous. They are thus capable of activities that call for high precision levels. The drawback is that they are not sociable and might struggle to forge connections at home or work.
OCD can get better!
The silver lining on OCD is that the condition can get better. The best way to manage the condition is to get the right therapy. The primary therapy used is exposure and response prevention therapy. It is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapythat exposes a patient to the source of obsession and habituates them to anxieties they provoke. However, it is good to be careful since some types of cognitive-behavioral therapy can also be very destructive. Again, it is best to seek help from a professional in the treatment and management of the condition.
The underlying causes behind Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder are not well known, although there are some predisposing factors. Ultimately, helping someone with the disorder is all about how you react to their symptoms. You want to give your loved one a calm and supportive environment. You are better off seeking professional help to help treat and manage Obsessive Compulsive Disorder affecting you or your loved one.