Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Obsessive compulsive disorder involves the persistent need to follow a set of rituals and routines. They may be accompanied by unwanted thoughts and images that the sufferer is not able to relinquish. A person suffering from OCD may understand that these actions are irrational but be unable to stop.
Typical obsessive compulsive traits include frequent hand washing, cleaning, locking and unlocking doors repeatedly, basically any ritual that must be repeated. People with OCD may count and/or touch things in a specific order, repeatedly. They may count the words or paragraphs on a page before reading them. They may turn a light on and off a certain number of times before going to sleep. They may need to complete a routine in a specific order. If the order is broken, they may force themselves to start from the beginning and repeat the process.
People suffering from the disorder often entertain obsessive thoughts. These thoughts may involve religious items, intimate acts with other people, performing violence towards loved ones, etc.. These thoughts are sometimes extremely troublesome but the sufferer is unable to make them stop.
The difference between a healthy ritual such as making sure the front door is locked before leaving the house and unhealthy rituals is that the acts people suffering from OCD perform interfere with their daily lives. Checking the door once is healthy. Standing there locking it and unlocking it exactly thirty one times every time you leave the house is a waste of time. Washing your hands is obviously necessary for proper hygiene. Washing them three times in a row before and after every meal is not.
The intensity of the symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder can range from being simply a nuisance to interfering with ones ability to lead a normal life. OCD affects more than two million Americans and strikes men and women equally. Symptoms may come and go, and increase and decrease their intensity almost arbitrarily.
Treatment is available for those suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder. Please see your doctor if you suffer from OCD. There are medications and therapy available that have been proven to be effective in alleviating symptoms of the disorder. Exposure based psychotherapy can be particularly effective. Consult your doctor to find out what treatment is best for you.