Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or OCD, is an anxiety disorder characterized by excessive, upsetting thoughts that drive ritualized and repetitive behaviors called compulsions. The individual’s compulsions are irrational actions that help to temporarily ease the anxiety caused by the individual’s unwanted thoughts.
These behavioral compulsions can interfere with a person’s daily activities and can often be distressing. OCD is a lifelong diagnosis and may be genetic in some cases. Therefore, although neurobehavioral care and neuropsychiatric care is available, the disorder can’t be cured.
An OCD diagnosis requires a neuropsychiatric evaluation by a licensed psychiatrist or psychologist. However, those who have OCD often experience common distressing thoughts including:
- Excessive moral/religious ideas and fears
- Violent images
- Sexual images
- Fear of harming oneself or others
- Fear of contamination
Those without OCD are able to brush these intrusive thoughts aside. However, those with OCD become consumed and anxious by these thoughts.
As a result, an OCD sufferer will sometimes (but not always) perform a compulsion to ease this anxiety. Common compulsions include:
- Excessive double-checking
- Excessively checking that loved ones are safe
- Repeating certain words, counting, or tapping
- Arranging things in a specific way
- Excessive praying triggered by religious fear
- Hoarding behavior
It isn’t necessarily OCD if a person behaves a certain way such as wanting their desk to be tidy. However, a person may have OCD if they’re unable to continue with their work before their desk is completely organized.
How To Help A Loved One With OCD
OCD is an anxiety disorder, which means certain things such as impatience can exacerbate the disorder and its symptoms. When a person criticizes the sufferer for their behavior or tells them to stop performing their rituals, it can increase the sufferer’s anxiety and increase the need to perform the ritual.
Additionally, the sufferer’s ritualistic behavior is not something they want to partake in but perform compulsively. Their behavior is a symptom of their disorder and not a character flaw.
That being said, try to be as patient with the sufferer as possible while still remaining kind. By communicating with your loved one on what helps them feel balanced you can feel more supportive and less critical.
Only use humor in the situation if your loved one has expressed that this is okay. Otherwise, joking about their rituals and their disorder can increase anxiety.
OCD And The Elderly: Testing For Dementia
Although OCD isn’t related to dementia, obsessive and compulsive symptoms are often similar to those suffering from dementia. A person is diagnosed with dementia every four seconds. If an elderly loved one has never shown previous signs of OCD it may be in their best interest to receive a neuropsychiatric evaluation for dementia.
OCD is a neuropsychiatric condition that can be treated with the help of cognitive behavioral therapy and medication. For more information on neuropsychiatric programs or to schedule a neuropsychiatric evaluation, contact NeuroPsychiatric Hospital today.