OCD is a psychiatric illness, that impacts 1-3% of the population and is equally present across men and women.
By Dr. Samant Darshi
The coronavirus and its impact seem to have acquired the forefront of our attentional resources as we are being constantly exposed to information reporting the humongous number of infected cases across the world coupled with the escalating number of deaths. Cumulatively such information and the importance given to personal hygiene in averting the spread of the virus is contributing towards making us excessively vigilant towards our cleanliness. It is evident that in today’s times one of the most potent way to avoid the dread of being contaminated by the virus is frequent hand washing. In many individuals afflicted by Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) this may be instrumental in exacerbating symptoms like fear of contamination and repetitive hand washing.
OCD is a psychiatric illness, that impacts 1-3% of the population and is equally present across men and women. The main features of OCD are obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are recurrent, unwanted, intrusive and distressing thoughts, images and impulses (urges). The person recognizes that these are his/her own thoughts. Obsessions lead to significant distress and anxiety to the sufferers. An individual attempts to resists, ignore, suppress, or neutralize them. Common obsessions include contamination/dirt related obsession, pathological doubts regarding daily activities, sexual obsessions, blasphemous/religious obsessions or need for symmetry/exactness.
Often in response to an obsession an individual performs a compulsion. Compulsions are repetitive behaviors or mental acts the person feels driven to perform. They are designed to prevent or reduce distress. In some cases, the compulsions are performed to prevent some dreaded event from occurring; for instance, a person might repeatedly check the gas knobs to avoid a fire. Compulsions are not enjoyable and do not result in the completion of inherently useful tasks, for example, ordering or rearranging things in a certain manner again and again might not culminate into anything meaningful. Common compulsions include washing, cleaning, checking, ordering/arranging, counting and other mental compulsions.
The obsessions and compulsions interfere significantly with the day to day functioning often consuming a substantial amount of time and creating distress for the patient and their caregivers. It is important here to emphasize that OCD is a treatable illness and requires comprehensive management. The treatment modalities include pharmacotherapy, psychotherapy and neuromodulation. Timely intervention and treatment adherence is key to the successful treatment of OCD. Psymate offers evidence-based Psychiatry and Psychology services for mental health disorders with a personalised and integrative treatment approach.
(The author is MBBS, MD, Consultant Psychiatrist & Deaddiction Specialist with PSYMATE. The above article is for information purpose only, please consult with a medical professional and/or doctor before starting any medication/therapy/treatment. Views expressed are personal.)