BENGALURU : Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) means one has repetitive, seemingly useless thoughts which one tries to resist to no avail. Compulsions are an action/behaviour, which temporarily pacify the obsessions. Essentially, it is an anxiety-based disorder that has a tendency to run an arduous and chronic course.
It is common if you consider the whole spectrum of OCD from mild to severe. Moderate to severe OCD is relatively rare. Obsessions and compulsions are also frequently a part of other mental health issues like depression. Studies demonstrate that at least 30% of people with depression also present with OCD symptoms.
The cause of OCD is complex and multi-factorial. Clearly, genetics has a role to play. There is evidence that severe, unrelenting anxiety has its route in abuse (of any kind). We also have to consider socio-cultural factors like religious rituals, extreme disciplinarian parenting styles, etc.
One can recognise the symptoms of OCD in oneself relatively easily as compared to other mental health issues. If one finds oneself stuck in a loop of thoughts ,which on the face of it, seem useless, it is the repetitive nature of it that is telling. A priest presented with obsessive thoughts of a sexual nature about a goddess he used to worship.
The content is usually contrary to reality and it disturbs the person. This client developed a specific ritual in the temple to counteract these obsessive thoughts. He started spending more time conducting these rituals even before entering the temple. One has to recognise the futility of continuing engagement in useless obsessions and compulsions. Treatment options range from counselling techniques based on cognitive behavioural therapy principles to medications.
Timely intervention will lead to better outcomes.
The most common reason for delay in seeking help is lack of awareness that it is a illness and there is help available. There is also a stigma attached to seeing a mental health professional. We should curb any barriers to seeking help.The author is head psychiatrist, Mpower- The Centre, Bengaluru