What is OCD?

Jasmine P.

Chances are at some point in your life when someone talks about something that bothers them, you’ve heard them refer to it as “triggering their OCD”. Even though those with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) do in fact experience feelings that can be similar to those of being bothered by something seemingly small or trivial, OCD is so much more than being slightly bothered by something being out of place. 


OCD is a mental disorder that manifests itself within thinking patterns that cause one to engage in recurrent activities (compulsions). These compulsive thoughts and behaviors disrupt daily life and cause severe distress. The severity can vary within patients, but the underlying factor linking cases together is the thought of once the obsession or compulsion is completed (by completing ritualistic behavior), the stress is somewhat(temporarily) alleviated. It usually manifests itself around one common theme, which can vary drastically. Patients can have compulsions centered around everything, from obsessive cleaning to religious practices. 


Some common themes for OCD are cleaning, or needing to have things completely clean and tidy. This causes patients to obsessively clean everything in the area, sometimes for several hours at a time, not even stopping when physical damage is being done to their bodies. Others can have things like obsessive and impulsive thoughts, which at times can be violent or obscene. Many patients with compulsions like these imagine doing dangerous things, like acting inappropriately in public, driving their vehicles into crowds of people, or having thoughts about losing control and harming themselves. 


Symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder usually start in early adulthood or late adolescence, but cases of children having OCD are not impossible. As those with OCD grow and develop and experience more stress, their symptoms can start to worsen, so it is important for them to notice their symptoms and make sure they can get the help they need. It’s also important to differentiate between liking things to be orderly and having a genuine mental disorder like OCD. 


When compulsions and obsession start to limit the quality of life and cause immense amounts of stress, it is time to seek professional help.