Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders are characterized by recurring, unwanted and intrusive thoughts (obsessions) and/or repetitive, senseless behaviors or rituals (compulsions).
Someone who experiences recurrent, distressful repetitive thoughts, often called “obsessions,” or repetitive, ritualized behaviors (ex: washing one’s hands over and over again), often called “compulsions,” is said to have an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. These obsessions or compulsions often significantly interfere with a person’s normal family, social or work routines.
Anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Resisting the obsession or compulsion causes the person to become more and more anxious, so it’s easier to give into the intrusive thoughts or carry out the compulsive behavior. Recognizing the unreasonableness of these thoughts and behaviors only adds to the person’s emotional distress. Whether one resists or gives in, one experiences emotional pain that can negatively impact their functioning in all areas of life.
How Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Manifests
Compulsions usually occur in response to the anxiety-provoking obsession. In the attempt to alleviate the anxiety, the compulsions can become extremely distressing and/or time-consuming as well. For example, a fear of being contaminated by dirt and germs may lead to compulsive hand washing.
Compulsions may also manifest as mental rituals. For example, counting sequences of numbers or letters in one’s head may reduce anxiety triggered by unwanted thoughts. The content of obsessive thoughts may vary depending upon the age of a child and so may change over time.