Symptoms of OCD – How to Check If You Have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

OCD or obsessive compulsive disorder is an anxiety disorder that can affect adults and children alike. The most common symptoms of OCD are repeated obsessions or compulsions but the most striking of its symptoms is anxiety.

Obsessions are recurrent thoughts or impulses that are considered inappropriate and may cause marked anxiety or distress. On the other hand, compulsions are defined as repetitive behaviors or mental acts that a person is driven to perform because of an obsession.

If you have obsessive compulsive disorder, you may have obsessive thoughts like fear of dirt and germs, overconcern with order, neatness and symmetry, preoccupation with checking or counting, or fear of doing anything embarrassing. It is normal to think about hygiene and being clean, but in obsessive compulsive behavior, this concern is too much that it often alienates people in your surrounding.

Aside from these obsessive thoughts, you may also have compulsive behaviors like frequent washing of hands, taking showers, brushing your teeth more often than normal, cleaning, putting everything in order, or double checking locks and switches to ensure that you have turned them off.

However, all the symptoms of OCD mentioned above may vary from one person to another. People with OCD who have depression may also experience suicidal feelings.

If you have children with this disorder, you may also notice them repeating actions until they find it right. These actions may be as simple as going to and fro, going up and down the stairs or rewriting their homework. You have to understand too that if you are dealing with children having this kind of disorder, they may also develop fear to go to school or leave home and the people they feel comfortable with. However, children with OCD may not grow up with this disorder as anxiety may change over time.

Other obsessive thoughts that are also symptoms of OCD include excessive attention given to religious or moral values or anything that you might consider lucky or not. You might also develop fear to cause harm to yourself or to other people and to lose things that you might need. Another compulsive behavior of people with OCD is collecting “junk” stuffs like old magazines, newspapers, or empty containers.

These obsessive thoughts are usually unwanted, and though they come from your own mind, they are often impossible to control.

People with obsessive compulsive disorder also have aggressive impulses, sexually explicit thoughts, or violent images in their mind. And these obsessions and compulsions really cause distress and significantly intervene with a person’s normal activities, occupational or academic routines, or even personal relationships. The disorder becomes disturbing because when you or someone dear to you has OCD, you may feel helpless and isolated. It may also cause you additional illness or discomforts like dermatitis due to frequent washing of hands, skin lesions caused by frequent picking of your skin, or hair loss due to hair pulling. However, the disturbance caused by the disorder is not due to the physiological effects of any substance or medical condition.

Usually, the onset of this disorder occurs during adolescence and symptoms of other disorders like autism and attention deficit disorder may also look like OCD. That’s why a thorough psychological and medical examination is needed before making any diagnosis.

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Music Therapy for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

In order to treat Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), music therapy can provide alternative besides other more conventional routes.

For a cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), you will learn how to confront situations causing an anxiety, which leads to obsessive and compulsive behaviour, with the guidance of a therapy. A nice piece of music is often used to provide a relaxing atmosphere for patients. Thus, it is possible that anxiety levels can be decreased through music. For the CBT treatment, patients are taught to identify situations which relate to the rise of anxiety level, and to apply appropriate types of music to try and reduce them.

Music therapy and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – Learning to play
Another positive method to reduce the chance of developing obsessive thoughts is by focusing on something more constructive, in our case, by learning to play a musical instrument. There are two advantages of learning this. The main advantage is to divert your focus and attention from your obsessive thoughts, thus increasing the chance of eliminating your compulsive behaviour altogether. The second advantage is the opportunity for you to develop your musicality, you could even take this up as a new hobby or even as a new skill, and even make new friends!If you are not so keen in music, there are indeed other available alternative therapies available, for instance outdoor activities or sports as a form of therapy, or through community work as a form of social therapy. There is no scientific evidence that these could offer an effective remedy to OCD, but they could also help to deal with OCD.

Hypnotherapy to reduce compulsive behaviours
Hypnotherapy is proven as a successful method to reduce OCD. It has the ability to help reducing anxieties that triggers obsessive thoughts. Hypnosis is applied in this technique, to probe into your subconscious thoughts to extract solutions to problems that trigger OCD. This would not be possible with your conscious mind. Through hypnosis, you are taught to respond to visualisation and suggestion by accessing your subconscious mind. This would provide guidance for you to alter and improve your behaviour patterns.
Fish Oils and Essential Fatty Acids e.g. Omega-3 relieves stress

Although still in early stages of research, omega-3 has been shown to have the ability to help relieving stress and depression that are known to trigger OCD. Scientists, however, are realising that omega-3 provides other health benefits as well, for instance: –
* Preventing certain cancers.
* Treating rheumatoid arthritis.
* Controlling diabetes.
* Easing menstrual cramps and the associated pain.
* Easing mood swings.
* Prevention and treatment of heart disease, including high blood pressure.
Although all fish have omega-3 from their fat, oily or fatty fish are specifically rich in omega-3. These include salmon, trout, mackerel, sardines, herring, kipper and pilchards.

Herbal Remedies for OCD
Although there is still ongoing research on the roles and benefits of herbs as an alternative treatment and medication, herbs have been used for generations to treat various form of ailments and conditions. They have long been recognised as beneficial to our health and wellbeing. For instance, St. John’s Wort, or known as Tipton’s Weed, Chase-devil of Klamath weed, has been widely identified as an effective herbal treatment for mild to moderate depression without the side effects of conventional drug medication or antidepressants. Other herbs, for instance Valerian, Gingko Biloba, Passionflower, Chamomile, Lemon Balm (otherwise known as Melissa) and Reishi are also widely-used herbal remedies for mental health treatment. However, it is best to find out in more detail from trusted sources regarding the best method to utilise these herbs safely and appropriately.

Music therapy is just one of many alternatives that you can apply to help you to overcome OCD and improve your health and wellbeing. Try to learn and harness music as part of your strategies to beat OCD.

What You Can Do Right Now to Beat OCD

The effectiveness of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) depends on the correct self-help techniques that you applied. In fact, if wrong approach was taken in your effort the recover yourself, you could risk harming yourself instead of doing you any good.

If you follow the right tips and apply the correct self-help techniques, chances are you could achieve dramatic increase in success.

To overcome problems caused by OCD, below is a powerful strategy that can be adopted straight away.
Face your obsessions, but take small steps:

Obsession is the first symptom of OCD in most cases. It can be defined as some mental thoughts that are often uncontrollable, unpleasant as well as undesirable. This in turn triggers compulsions, rituals and habits that you carry out repetitively to overcome or distance yourself from those obsessions.
Once you identified the obsessions, confront them. This is a major step in beating OCD. Identify the root-cause of your OCD. This might not be that straight forward. Try doing a mental map and record what you think are your obsessions, and then prioritise those you think that are severe to you. Try seek help from someone very close to you, for instance your spouse, family members, close friends, if possible, someone who is familiar with your daily routines.

Try exploring your obsessive thoughts, by means of willingly and consciously identify any thoughts that could potentially turn into obsessions, or try putting yourself in a position where you would notice any obsessive thoughts that are likely to trigger compulsions.

Next, identify the compulsive behaviour that you would normally use to overcome the relevant obsessive thoughts.

Then, try to stop yourself from carrying out the compulsive behaviour, in this “confrontation-style” therapy.
This is definitely not easy. So, just try and do this for just, let say, a minute of two, and then release yourself, give in. Next, in a small and consistent manner, repeat the process, but by increasing the time in small increments. Do not force yourself to get a result straight away, just take your time. Seek help from someone you trust, to do this with you and constantly support you. Set a timetable to do this, record your progress, so that you could monitor your performance.

As time passes, you would notice the change, and you would realise that, slowly, you no longer depend on the compulsions and you could control your obsessive thoughts. One thing is for certain, this process takes time and discipline. The key is to take small steps, to be consistent, and to have a systematic record so that you could notice the change.

Dealing With Those Unwanted OCD Thoughts

When you begin to experience several unwanted intrusive thoughts, chances are you might be developing an OCD or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. In the medical realms, ADHD and Depression have a strong relation with OCD. Therefore having any of those will probably make you eventually develop an OCD as well.

However, OCD thoughts are not in any way related to a Bipolar Disorder; they’re completely different cases. The development of depression or OCD is highly related to the shifting of the level of the serotonin, a brain hormone responsible for transmitting nerve signals between nerve cells and would result to the narrowing of the blood vessels. Low levels of serotonin would result to changes in the temperament or mood of an individual. Another very common occurrence on depressed individuals is to develop OCD thoughts. Obsessive thoughts are typically uncomfortable and disturbing involving repulsive thoughts, even immoral and individuals who experience these often feels perverted and bad about themselves.

If a person is having a depression, his or her depression will produce obsessive thoughts like getting publicly humiliated. The common prescription to this kind of cases is doses of sleep inducing pills and drugs that rapidly increase serotonin levels.

You will be able to identify OCD thoughts through these characterizations:

1. OCD Thoughts differ from unwanted thoughts in a way that they interfere in the mind so suddenly and completely unintentional. They are very different from a regular preoccupation, where the person keeps on dwelling thoughts, although that they are very much already aware that the thoughts are unhealthy.

2. OCD thoughts cause considerable amount of distress to the individual having it. The recurring thoughts afflict the person’s mind malevolently and they would begin to feel imprisoned for not being able to get out from such a condition. Person experiencing these kinds of thoughts feel confused of being pleasured or guilty about the situation.

3. People having this struggle a lot to get it out of their minds, even to the extent of deliberately becoming elusive at situations or places that might trigger the thoughts again. They are in constant fear that things might go out of hand and there would be nothing they can do about it anymore and that they might commit something bad at the end.

4. OCD sufferers often feel deprived of hope in their present condition. As they are aware and conscious of their irrationality, the fact that they can’t do anything about no matter how much they want to get rid of it, remains true.

5. Obsessive thoughts likely defile an individual’s moral standards making him or her disgusted and evil about themselves. They would likely feel that they are religiously out casted for having been commencing such kinds of thoughts.

The best immediate way to deal with this is to generally comprehend that the entire situation is a mental process and that they mean absolutely nothing in real tangible terms. Understanding that there is not point of being guilty of the entire situation as they are not really happening in the real life. Moreover, being of aware in all of these will provide a sense of deterrence in every committing anything socially unacceptable.

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