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Only habit, or even a compulsion?

Everyone knows them, and everyone needs them: Well-embossed, repetitive processes that structure and facilitate our everyday lives. Such “fixed rituals”, such as checking whether the door was locked or the lights turned off, give us security and control. These behaviors are not yet an obsessive-compulsive disorder. From when you suffer from a compulsion, and what treatments there are, we reveal in our contribution.

Experience obsessive-compulsive disorder – when is my behavior a compulsion?

Only when certain behaviors are not isolated and fleeting, but persistent and persistent, one speaks of so-called obsessive-compulsive disorder. Those affected have the compulsion to do certain things and to repeat them frequently, possibly also according to a certain pattern. The act can not be terminated deliberately, though most recognize it as meaningless or nonsense. But they give them, at least temporarily, a sense of security. If it is a ritual in which the compulsive act takes place in a certain order and if it is interrupted or if the person concerned gets confused, he must start all over again.

When trying to suppress the compulsion, it usually comes only to a delay. Reason and will are powerless against coercion, because when trying to repress oneself, it comes to an unbearable inner tension and anxiety, which can only be alleviated by carrying out the constraints.

Such compulsive rituals can be enormously time consuming and thus determine the whole life. A normal everyday life becomes impossible, with considerable restrictions in occupation and social interaction with other people.

What obsessive-compulsive disorder is there?

It distinguishes compulsive acts and obsessional thoughts. Both are mental illnesses.

Forced actions include z. B .:

  • Cleaning compulsion = Permanent cleaning in the household or washing of hands and body, which is triggered by a panic fear or a disgust from dirt, pathogens and body exudates.
  • Order compulsion = clearing up objects according to certain symmetry or rules.
  • Control compulsion = multiple checking whether z. As the door is closed or the stove is turned off, triggered by the fear of causing a disaster due to a carelessness.
  • Collective compulsory = keep everything for fear of throwing away something that could still be valuable or useful to the person concerned. It is difficult to distinguish between important things and worthless garbage.
  • Compulsive Slowness = Hours are required for everyday activities such as eating, dressing or combing hair.
  • Verbal compulsion = Permanent repetition of certain words and sentences.

The behavior of an obsessive-compulsive disorder primarily serves to relieve pressure. The compulsive action reduces doubt, restlessness and anxiety. Nevertheless, those affected do not feel contented because they know that the actions burden their everyday lives and their environment and are not justifiable from a purely logical perspective.

Forced thoughts include z. B .:

  • Constant puzzles = turning notoric thought loops without making decisions
  • Counting = counting everyday items (eg the bathroom tiles) or recurring events.
  • Forced fear = fear that something bad happens to those affected, eg. As an infection or infection with a disease.
  • Doubt = question the permanent and doubt whether things have been done satisfactorily. Often accompanied by a negative assessment of one’s own performance.

Forbidden thoughts can also be aggressive. Those affected are afraid of being able to do harm to someone, even if they are strongly opposed to the thought and are afraid of it. But such thoughts do not mean that they are actually executed. But because the person concerned is afraid of harming others, compulsory acts are usually carried out as a security measure.

Why do I have obsessive-compulsive disorder?

OCD usually develops during childhood, adolescence or young adulthood. In the formation of several factors probably play a role. Not infrequently, compulsions occur along with other mental illnesses such as anxiety disorders, depression, Tourette’s syndrome, phobias, addictions, or eating disorders. For many people who develop obsessive-compulsive disorder, there has been a major stressful life event in advance, but genetic predisposition or brain disease may also play a role.

Some people do not see for themselves that they have an obsessive-compulsive disorder or try to hide their constraints. The more the illness worsens, the more those affected withdraw from their social environment. It may take a long time for such a condition to be noticed. Under certain circumstances, the person concerned also rejects help or is reluctant to seek help because he is ashamed of his behavior or his thoughts.

People who suffer from washing often develop skin problems because the natural skin barrier is destroyed.

OCD is also a challenge for the family or the immediate environment. They do not want to upset the person concerned and are thus often involved in the compulsive acts. Although this initially seems to improve the situation, it reinforces and stabilizes obsessional behavior in the long term. Therefore, it is important not to support the actions. Discussions about the necessity of constraints make no sense at all, they only make the situation worse for the person concerned. Instead, try to convince the person concerned to seek professional help and seek advice in support of your own behalf, such as: B. in a self-help group. Close relatives can also help the affected person by being involved in the treatment.

Ways out of the spiral

Compulsions usually develop into a chronic illness and become worse without treatment. The constraints can not be overcome with willpower and discipline. Therefore, you should definitely seek professional help if you suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Ideally, obsessive-compulsive disorder will be treated with combined therapy. This includes a cognitive behavioral therapy (recognizing and changing stressful behaviors and thought patterns), a reaction management (dealing with the compulsion through confrontation with the triggering situation, accompanied by the therapist, with the aim to make the situations controllable and less restrictive again) and possibly psychotropic drugs. In addition, visiting a self-help group can be helpful or dealing with the constraints, with good information from books. Some people also help relaxation techniques.

For most people with good treatment options, the symptoms can be reduced to a bearable level.

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