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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental condition featuring a series of irrational thoughts and fears [obsessions] which lead to repetitive behaviour [compulsions]. It disrupts your daily routine and causes significant distress.

Trying to resist these compulsions may cause more anxiety, and you will inevitably come back to these bothersome urges leading to an almost ritualistic behaviour. This is the vicious cycle of OCD.

3.0% of the population, or about 900,000 Malaysians are estimated to suffer from OCD.

Obsession Symptoms

Obsessions are persistent, repetitive and intrusive thoughts and urges. You may try to ignore them or get rid of them by performing a compulsive behaviour or ritual. Obsessions often have themes to them, such as:

  • Fear of contamination or dirt

  • Doubting and having difficulty tolerating uncertainty

  • Needing things orderly and symmetrical

  • Aggressive or horrific thoughts about losing control and harming yourself or others

  • Unwanted thoughts, including aggression, or sexual or religious subjects

Examples of symptoms include:

  • Fear of contamination by germs

  • Excessive doubt and need for constant reassurance

  • Intense stress when objects aren't orderly or facing a certain way

  • Fear of causing harm to others

  • Fear of being embarrassed or behaving in a socially unacceptable manner

  • Unpleasant sexual images

  • Avoidance of situations that can trigger obsessions, such as shaking hands


Compulsion Symptoms

Compulsions are repetitive behaviours that you feel compelled to perform. These acts are meant to soothe the anxiety brought about by intrusive obsessions. However, engaging in compulsions bring about no pleasure and may only provide temporary relief from anxiety.

You may make up rules or rituals to help cope with the obsessions. Often, these compulsions are excessive and are not realistically related to the problem they are intended to fix. Common themes for compulsions include:

  • Washing and cleaning

  • Checking

  • Counting

  • Orderliness

  • Following a strict routine

  • Demanding reassurance

Examples of signs and symptoms of compulsions:

  • Washing hands till your skin turns raw

  • Repeatedly checking things, like doors or stoves

  • Refusing to shake hands or touch doorknobs

  • Eating food in a certain order

  • Silently repeating a prayer, word or phrase

  • Arranging your ornaments to face the same way

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