Simcoe Addiction and Mental Health

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Treatment Ontario

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Commonly known as OCD, it is a disorder that often involves unwanted thoughts, fears and behaviours. These unwanted feelings and behaviours often happen in patterns. Obsessive thinking about day-to-day events and situations causes stress and anxiety for the person with the disorder. The obsessive nature of the thinking leads to feelings of frustration and anxiety. Attempts to stop the obsessive thinking can lead to an increase in distressed feelings.  One of the most commonly known characteristics for individuals with obsessive compulsive disorder is the fear of germs or potentially becoming contaminated by a bacteria or other foreign substance. People with this disorder tend to have a preoccupation with prevention. This may involve excessive handwashing, constant cleaning of the environment around them, also a preoccupation with the hygiene practices of strangers and loved ones. Those with the disorder can often witness the reaction from others regarding their obsessive tendencies which leaves people feeling ashamed and at times guilty for the compulsive behaviour. Despite these feelings, the compulsivity is dominate over the regret or feelings that the person experiences. The fear of subjecting themselves to the fear is far greater than most things.

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Some characteristics or symptoms associated with obsessive compulsive disorder include: 

  • Fear of contamination or dirt
  • Having feelings of uncertainty
  • Requiring order and structure
  • Feelings of losing control
  • Unwanted thoughts

Repetitive behaviours are common with this disorder and actions such as washing hands and repeating behaviours repeatedly to ensure a task is competed. This can be excessive handwashing, excessive cleaning, excessive counting or excessive checking. People with this disorder maybe fully aware and present when locking a door yet find themselves checking the door multiple times to ensure that it is indeed locked, despite memory recall that it is locked. An environment that was recently cleaned or sterilized may be cleaned numerous times, despite seeing an empty bottle of bleach and other sanitizing items. The knowing of the behaviour is present, so the individual is aware that they have cleaned the area, however, there remains a compulsive thought of missing something. As expected, this process is exhausting for the individual. At times, the individual may be spending 10 times the energy that a normal person would spend doing the same task. 

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Severity Varies

Obsessive compulsive disorder typically begins the teen years or earlier adulthood. The severity varies for those affected by this disorder. Symptoms tend to appear and can increase in severity as life goes on. The type of thought and experiences can change over time. Thoughts may become more extreme as time progresses. Like many other disorders, stress can increase the severity and intensify associated compulsive behaviours. It is a disorder that tends to be life long and if untreated it can lead to numerous consequences that may include:

  • Broken relationships
  • Loss of employment
  • Self harming or mutilation (typically as a result of the excessive hygiene practices)
  • Increased stress levels
  • Lowered self esteem

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