Mental Health: Are You Developing An OCD?

So, you wash your hands 20 times a day and disinfect the commode after every single use?  Image via wikipedia
So, you wash your hands 20 times a day and disinfect the commode after every single use?
Image via wikipedia

You like to get your floors mopped 3 times every day and enthusiastically attack every dust particle you see settling on your coffee table.

It’s a strict law in your home to put everything back in to the exact same place it was picked from immediately, and you find yourself organizing and arranging the closets and kitchen shelves more than anyone else you know.

Does something strike as being a little odd here to you? Could your obsession be giving way to compulsive behavior that you know is a tad unreasonable? Could you be developing OCD?

First things first – there is a difference between being an absolute perfectionist, and suffer from an obsessive-compulsion disorder. Being a stricter for cleanliness and good hygiene doesn’t mean you have OCD. But if you have recurrent thoughts and impulses that drive you against your better judgment to act in a certain way that can be called obsessive compulsive, then you do have a problem on your hands.

So, What Is OCD?

OCD or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a condition where you have certain obsessions about safety or order or even cleanliness and these result in compulsive behavior that works in a way to quell your anxiety…but only for a short period of time.

These obsessions give rise to habits that become a part of your behavior and are performed without much thought. They become time consuming and also become a source of constant stress, and can interfere with your normal day to day functioning.

A person obsessed with order and cleanliness will feel extreme stress only because the books aren’t arranged by author or size or even if things are facing the wrong way.  Image via
A person obsessed with order and cleanliness will feel extreme stress only because the books aren’t arranged by author or size or even if things are facing the wrong way.
Image via

Could You Be At A Risk for OCD?

Some people are at a higher risk for developing OCD. If you have someone in your family who suffers from OCD, chances are that you have a genetic disposition to suffer from the same. Also, stressful events can trigger OCD in a person with no family history of the disease.

For some, it becomes a way to cope with stress, especially if the person has a tendency to react strongly when in a stressful situation. OCD comes with intrusive thoughts that can take over one’s life, the exhausting rituals and emotional distress making it impossible to live what we know as a ‘normal lifestyle’.

If the quirks of Dr. Sheldon Cooper from the popular sitcom ‘The Big Bang Theory’ feel a little too familiar, you could be in trouble.
If the quirks of Dr. Sheldon Cooper from the popular sitcom ‘The Big Bang Theory’ feel a little too familiar, you could be in trouble.

Symptoms of OCD

If you are now worried that the repetitive, persistent thoughts you suffer from could be OCD, here are some symptoms to look out for.

Symptoms of Obsession:

If you have OCD, your obsession could be with anything you consider very important and you would suffer from unwanted intrusive ideas, images and thoughts that will result in involuntary impulses. Most of them don’t even make sense most of the time, for example:

  • Extreme fear of dirt or contamination.
  • Obsession with everything around you arranged in a systematic order.
  • Horrific or aggressive impulses.
  • Obsession with sexual thoughts.
  • Extreme caution to ensure safety in every way possible.

Someone with OCD doesn’t like to even shake hands with other people for the fear they will be exposed to germs.

Such a person doesn’t just lock the doors or turn off the gas stove carefully, but will check and double check every few minutes to ensure nothing is amiss.

Symptoms of Compulsion:

If you find that your obsessive thoughts give way to behaviors that are repetitive and you feel ‘driven’ or ‘compelled’ to perform, you are suffering from OCD compulsions.

Somehow, these repetitive actions which may be too time-consuming actually reduce your anxiety where the obsessive thoughts are concerned, and you find some temporary relief. For example,

  • You repeatedly wash your hands and skin, even though this has resulted in dermatitis.
  • You keep counting hours for the fear that you might be wasting some time.
  • You check and re-check the car is locked, door is shut and the gas stove is turned off.
  • You demand reassurance from others around you.
  • You keep performing the compulsive actions even when your conscious mind knows they aren’t really necessary, yet you feel anxiety levels rise if you stop.

Most people who have OCD notice that their symptoms start gradually and become more severe with time. And when under stress, these symptoms become very aggravated.

It’s strange that for many, these behaviors are such an important part of their life that they don’t even think of them as being abnormal. Many patients with OCD live with the disease their entire lifetime.

Living with OCD can bring you a lot of stress and grief on a day to day basis, so don’t take it lightly.
Living with OCD can bring you a lot of stress and grief on a day to day basis, so don’t take it lightly.

Could You Have OCD?

Truth be told, a minor form of OCD that makes you want to keep your body and surroundings clean or be extra organized is OK. It just means you are neat and tidy. In fact, it can help you live a more disciplined lifestyle.

If your obsession with a thought and your compulsion to perform a certain set of actions to reduce your restlessness has started to disrupt your relationships, wreck havoc on your social life and eat in to all your free time (or even be making you do poorly at work because your obsessive-compulsive behavior is demanding too much of your time at work), it is time for you to seek help.

Also Read: Brain Fog: What Really Causes It?

5 Comments Add yours

  1. I commend your attempt to raise awareness about OCD however it would be more helpful to not portray OCD as predominantly obsessions and neutralsising behaviours surrounding cleanliness and order. Yes some people have distressing intrusive thoughts regarding that however many do not and their intrusive thoughts may be about a number of distressing subjects. For example, about violence, sexual assault, illness, accidental or intentional harm, incontinance, child abuse etc. these thoughts may concerns themselves or others or may even concerns themselves perpetrating violent or sexual acts.

    Awareness of mental health issues is extremely important but I personally think there are issues that need to be addressed within these awareness campaigns and a frank discussion about the really nasty side of mental illness is often lacking. Put this notion of OCD and obsessive cleanliness as synonymous to bed I say! Intrusive thoughts can be about anything but they are always distressing. More importantly any proper mental health professional will never be shocked by a persons deepest shameful thoughts. Please talk about them as that is the only way to face them, grapple them and cure them.


    1. Hi,

      Thank you for taking the time to reply🙂

      In no way do I mean to trivialize the issue since I understand its repercussions in personal and social life. But from what I have observed, it usually starts with the small stuff which often gets ignored, eg: an obsession with cleanliness. Even though, compulsive behavior is often termed as a ‘personality’ trait, it must be addressed. But unfortunately, we often tend to ignore OCD symptoms till overpowers our life’s. Getting people to talk about it is the first step, but often the hardest.


      1. Hi, no worries I was not accusing you of trivialising anyone’s mental illness as many people do suffer with distressing thoughts about contamination resulting in severe harm death or mutilation. And i whole heartily agree that people should talk about there symptoms and early!

        What I was suggesting is that many campaigns of awareness are flawed because everyone talks about OCD related to contamination and organisation and I think this is because other reported symptoms are either harder to understand or taboo.

        Yes it is important to nip the bid off were it starts and recognise early symptoms all I am saying is that many people (especially lay people) think that often starts with cleanliness and orderliness. This is were a little knowledge becomes a dangerous thing . If people do not realise that their symptoms can be about anything how can they recognise them? For example I have never experienced intrusive thoughts about contamination or disorder (being a sufferer of OCD). On reflection my first intrusive thoughts were about others being able to hear a continuous broadcast of my thoughts (I was a child so magical things seemed believable to me. And deep down I knew it was stupid..therefore not a psychotic symptom). My thoughts then evolved into a pathological fear of paper cuts sawing into vulnerable parts of my flesh. That is how it started for me. I would also say that my OCD makes it impossible for me to be clean and organised due to the nature of my thought processes. Too many thoughts and too little time for getting it right.

        All I am saying about your post is that it suffers, as many others do, about emphasis on a subject that is easy to talk about rather than the difficult side of OCD.

        Please continue to post about mental health and strive to raise awareness though I recommend pushing the boat out and people can read your post and think ‘I thought it was only me! Thank goodness someone else has experienced this and I am not a monster’. Because that’s why people don’t talk they are scared that they are alone and that they will be severely judged! Especially as thoughts can sometime drift into illegal territory.


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