What is OCD?

As with many other phrases, the term OCD is often thrown around quite frequently amongst our social circles. But, what does it really mean, what is obsessive-compulsive disorder and what is life like living with such an anxiety disorder. This topic sparked interest amongst some of The Point staff members who regularly watch the show, Girls, in which Hannah has been struggling with her OCD issues.
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Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is essentially what its name describes.  This is an anxiety disorder that stems from a variety of psychological and biological factors. According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, OCD afflicts one in 40 adults, which is far greater than the number of people with Schizophrenia or Bipolar Disorder. This significant number of people indicates a huge prevalence of people demonstrating the symptoms, even here at UBC.
Generally, people who suffer from OCD experience consuming and worrisome thoughts about not only real-life, everyday issues but also about things that are unrealistic and constructed in their minds to be fearsome or worrying. The two aspects to this disorder are the “obsessions” and the “compulsions”. The obsessions relate to the intrusive and unwanted thoughts that arise from the excessive fear and worry that the disease causes. On the other side, the compulsions are described more as extreme rituals or recurrent urges to repeat actions out of similar fear or worry.
The disease is often diagnosed many years after symptoms are experienced and can be very serious, debilitating and time-consuming. After reading through tumblr and blog posts written by people living with the disorder, I discovered many patterns and common unwanted thoughts that arise. Many common obsessions are related to aggression and self-doubt but obsessions can also relate to things such as religion, sex, contamination and ordering. Obsessions are the intrusive or unwanted thoughts that arise and can’t be shaken whereas compulsions are the behaviors that a person feels necessary to carry out.
The notion that we all have OCD to an extent is not necessarily entirely valid. Yes, we do all have the tendency to repeat habitual actions and worry about the same recurring issues in our lives but not to the extent that the disorder can incur for someone suffering from diagnosed Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. The effects of the obsessions and compulsions related to the disorder can be extremely serious, time consuming and hugely affect the every day lives of not only OCD sufferers but also their families and friends.
As stated by the Canadian Mental Health Association, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is frequently underdiagnosed and also undertreated. OCD can be experienced by people of any age and many symptoms develop in children but aren’t diagnosed until later in their lives. It is important to understand that the symptoms of OCD cannot be taken lightly because with early recognition and treatment of OCD, persons who suffer from the disorder may be able to prevent or minimize majority of the symptoms induced by their obsessions and compulsions. Information on recognizing the symptoms of OCD can be found at http://www.anxietybc.com/resources/ocd.php.

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