The symptoms of OCD are repetitive behavior patterns triggered by persistent thoughts and fears that interfere with an OCD sufferers’ daily activities, but are seen by these patients as the only solution for coping with anxiety. Although most adults affected by this psychiatric disorder realize that their behavior is exaggerated and their obsessions are unhealthy and unrealistic, obsessive compulsive disorder symptoms are sometimes so severe that they become exhausting and disabling.
Even the mild and moderate OCD symptoms can be time-consuming and extremely disturbing as they affect the sufferer’s quality of life, forcing him or her to come up with rules and rituals to follow when the anxiety-inducing thoughts and obsessions return. The purpose of the repeated behaviors is to reduce fear and to keep unwanted thoughts under control, therefore compulsions are almost always linked with obsessions in people with obsessive compulsive disorder.
OCD Symptoms Caused by Obsessive Thoughts and Ideas
The symptoms of OCD induced by unwanted images or impulses appear involuntarily and they generally intrude when the sufferer is trying to concentrate on something else or to perform an important task. Included in this category are:
- the fear of being contaminated by simply touching other people’s hands or using objects others have used
- the obsessive thought that a certain object is dirty and it needs to be cleaned over and over again
- intense stress and nervousness caused by the thought that everything needs to be placed in a certain place, perfectly symmetrical and facing a specific way
- doubts that the stove is turned off or the door is locked, leading to repeated and obsessive checking
- aggressive images caused by the fear of hurting your loved ones appear as OCD symptoms as well
- sexual obsessions,
- upsetting thoughts and concerns about health and excessive focus on moral and religious ideas
- constant unwanted thoughts about certain numbers, words, sounds or images
- excessive fear of doing something embarrassing or saying something wrong
All these obsessive compulsive disorder symptoms trigger specific behaviors that seem impossible to control or avoid and build up in time, getting worse with each anxiety-inducing thought.
Compulsive Symptoms of OCD
People obsessed by cleanliness and germs wash their hands repeatedly after touching someone else or an object that may not be dirty at all and although they are aware that this behavior is unhealthy and exaggerated, sufferers feel compelled to repeat the cleaning actions. This often leads to dermatitis and other skin problems caused by too frequent washing.
Sometimes, OCD sufferers take repeated showers to hide imagined body smells or brush their teeth obsessively to make them look whiter and brighter. Obviously, these OCD symptoms and behavior patterns will increase the body’s vulnerability to infections and health issues caused by bacteria and viruses.
Another compulsive action typical for this ailment is the repeated checking of zippers, buttons, lights, doors, stoves and other appliances to see whether they’re closed and turned off or not. These activities are not only disturbing for others, but they are upsetting for the patient as well, because they take a lot of time to complete and this will lead to increased tiredness, both physical and psychological.
People suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder spend a lot of time straightening and ordering objects, storing old newspapers, boxes, food containers and putting them in certain positions or places, repeating physical activities or saying the same phrases and repeating the same words over and over again.
Other obsessive compulsive disorder symptoms in this category include hair pulling – which is formerly known as trichotillomania -, depressive thoughts induced by the fear of harming others, avoidance of public places because of the persistent feeling that something terrible will happen, pointless counting of imaginary objects.
While these compulsive manifestations push the obsessive thoughts away for a while, the disturbing and anxiety-inducing ideas always come back and they become even more intense as the ailment gradually advances. This is why OCD, just like other anxiety disorders, is considered to be a lifelong condition that requires different treatment approaches.
Being given that stress, personal and professional problems, financial and social issues often worsen the symptoms of OCD, early detection and treatment are essential for coping with obsessive compulsive disorder.