The signs of ob­ses­sive com­pul­sive dis­or­der

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - HT Education - - Front Page -

I am a 17-year-old girl. For some time now, I have been fac­ing the prob­lem of wash­ing my hands all day as I con­tin­u­ously feel that they get dirty if I touch any ob­ject or per­son. This is be­com­ing very prob­lem­atic as I find it dif­fi­cult to con­cen­trate on my stud­ies with thoughts of hy­giene and clean­li­ness con­stantly on my mind. I feel that this has started to af­fect my life in many ways. Could you please tell me a way out?

-Ob­sessed You seem to be fac­ing dif­fi­cul­ties fall­ing un­der the cat­e­gory of ob­ses­sive com­pul­sive symp­toms which are char­ac­terised by both ob­ses­sions (re­cur­rent or in­tru­sive thoughts or im­ages) and com­pul­sive acts (rit­u­alised be­hav­iours that have to be done a cer­tain way or a cer­tain num­ber of times).

The symp­toms can ei­ther be part of an­other con­di­tion oc­cur­ring in co-mor­bid­ity or can be di­ag­nosed as a sep­a­rate con­di­tion. Th­ese symp­toms are char­ac­terised as a dis­or­der if they in­ter­fere sig­nif­i­cantly with daily func­tion or cause marked dis­tress. The most com­mon ob­ses­sions in ob­ses­sive com­pul­sive dis­or­der (OCD) are fears of dirt, con­tam­i­na­tion, dan­ger to self and oth­ers. The most com­mon com­pul­sions as­so­ci­ates with them are clean­ing, wash­ing, rit­u­alised check­ing and re­peat­ing. It is im­por­tant to mon­i­tor your feel­ings af­ter you don’t wash your hands, and in a di­ary, record such in­tru­sive thoughts. Try not to fo­cus on th­ese in­tru­sive thoughts as they will only make you en­gage in com­pelling rit­u­al­is­tic be­hav­iours, in­dulging in which would re­duce anx­i­ety, but only for a brief pe­riod of time. Start­ing step by step by lim­it­ing hand wash­ing ev­ery day can help. If you wash your hands 20 times in two hours, then try to bring it down to 10 in two hours in the first week, five in the sec­ond and so on. Friends and fam­ily can help you fol­low this reg­i­men by giv­ing you daily feed­back.

If your prob­lem still per­sists af­ter you have tried the steps sug­gested above, then it is rec­om­mended that you seek pro­fes­sional help from a trained psy­chol­o­gist or psy­chi­a­trist.

THINKSTOCK

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