I usually match the same coloured pegs on each item when I’m hanging out the washing, do this mean I have OCD?
Not necessarily. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a condition that is characterised by the presence of obsessions and/or compulsions (DSM V, 2013).
What are Obsessions?
Obsessions are recurrent and persistent thoughts, urges or images that are experienced as intrusive and unwanted.
In addition to this, the individual attempts to ignore or suppress the thought, urges or images with some other thought or action (DSM V, 2013).
What are Compulsions?
Compulsions can be described as repetitive behaviours (eg hand washing, checking, and ordering) or mental acts (eg counting, repeating words silently) that an individual feels driveB to perform in response to an obsession or as a part of a set of rules that must be applied rigidly.
These actions are designed to reduce anxiety, distress or prevent some perceived catastrophic event or situation; however, the behaviours are not connected in any realistic way with the situation or event that they are trying to prevent eg placing objects on a desk in careful order, as a means to prevent a car accident (DSM V, 2013).
My child seems obsessed with shoes and pens; does he/she have OCD?
It is important to note that some behaviour is developmentally normal for children and a part of exploration and growth.
If you are concerned however that these behaviours have extended beyond what could be considered developmentally typical, then it is a good idea to speak with a GP or mental health professional who specialises in child development.
Other characteristics of Obsessions or Compulsions:
- Time-consuming – This behaviour may take an hour or more per day.
- The obsessive or compulsive symptoms are not associated with the physiological effects of medication, substance abuse or other medical condition.
- The disturbances are not better explained by another mental disorder eg excessive worry associated with Generalised Anxiety Disorder (DSM V, 2013).
Common presentations of Obsessive or Compulsive Behaviour:
- Symmetry – Placing objects in structured order (outside what could be considered developmentally normal).
- Cleaning – Contamination obsession and cleaning compulsions.
- Counting compulsions.
- Forbidden or taboo thoughts – Aggressive, sexual or religious obsessions (outside typical practice) and related compulsions.
- Harm – Thoughts of harm to one’s self or others, checking behaviour (e.g. repeatedly checking the lock on a door).
Not suprisingly, OCD is associated with reduced quality of life and high levels of social and occupational impairment.
As a result of obsession or compulsion behaviour individuals with OCD may experience loss of employment due to the inability to meet deadlines and produce work on time.
Children and adolescents may experience academic difficulty at school (eg during exams and with assignments) and may experience social isolation due to obsessive and compulsive behaviour.
Individuals living with OCD may experience poor health as a result of contamination concerns and associated avoidance of doctors’ surgeries and hospitals.
Who do I talk to if I think that I (or someone I know) may have with OCD?
Mental health professionals such as psychologists are trained in a range of cognitive and behavioural strategies to help individuals to identify and manage obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours.
At Vision Psychology, we offer a free Emotional Health Check up to new clients of the clinic, to help assess your needs and whether counselling/therapy would be of benefit to you, and to discuss any relevant Medicare or health fund rebates.
To make an appointment try Online Booking. Alternatively, you can call Vision Psychology Brisbane on (07) 3088 5422.
American Psychiatric Association (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Fifth ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing. pp. 195-197.