OCD Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Symptoms
People often say they have OCD, but what exactly does obsessive compulsive disorder entail?
Discover the symptoms and reasons behind it and the celebrities who have spoken out about their experience. Then find out how the way you arrange a bag of Skittles can say a lot about you.
Today we’re sharing 10 signs that you have OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder).
Symptom-1 : Symmetry
OCD stands for obsessive-compulsive disorder. The obsessive part relates to obsessive thoughts that cause anxiety and the compulsive part relates to compulsive behaviors, that are an attempt to reduce anxiety.
People with the condition might experience one of these aspects rather than the other or both. If you recognize any of the traits in this article in yourself, you’re not alone. Many people have varying degrees of OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder).
In fact, high-profile celebrities have been open about their struggles with the condition. David Beckham has spoken out about his experience of OCD and his relates to symmetry. In a TV interview in 2006, Beckham explained how he had to have everything in a straight line or in pairs. For example, when he puts his Pepsi cans in the fridge, he would put one in another cupboard. If there was an uneven number, that ruined the symmetry.
It didn’t just happen at home either. In hotel rooms, Beckham would have to put all the leaflets and books in a drawer to make everything perfect, although he didn’t want to behave in that way. He admitted that he tried to stop but couldn’t. His wife Victoria Beckham also revealed that her husband needed everything to match. She spoke about how the contents of their fridge were symmetrical and coordinated down either side.
Liking symmetry can simply mean you enjoy things looking just right, but if this starts to adversely affect your life, it’s a good idea to talk to somebody about it.
Symptom-2 : Repetition
When you’re trying to remember something, you might well repeat it to yourself to help it stick to your memory, but repetition at an OCD level involves the regular and unnecessary repeating of words, phrases, or numbers. It can often be used as a coping mechanism in an attempt to deal with thoughts that can cause stress.
This is the typical pattern of OCD, which has four main steps.
It starts with 1). obsession, which is when an intrusive and unwanted thought repeatedly enters your head. Then there’s the 2). anxiety that the obsession provokes.
Next comes the 3). compulsive behavior, which you feel compelled to perform. This can be a physical action or a mental ritual. Finally, there’s the 4). temporary relief from anxiety that the compulsive behavior provides . However, if the obsession and anxiety soon return, the cycle starts once more.
Repetition is a compulsive behavior that can manifests itself in anyone, like Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe. He revealed that he developed the condition at the tender age of five, in addition to taking five minutes to turn off a light, he also had to repeat every sentence he said under his breath.
He was referred to a therapist and managed to get it under control. In fact, Dan is a vocal advocate of getting help, encouraging everyone to undergo therapy. He makes the great point that it doesn’t mean you’re insane or weak. Well said Dan!
Symptom-3 : Checking
When we leave our homes for work or a day out, most of us will check. We lock the door and shut the windows. The more conscientious among us might even check the gas to make sure that it is turned off, but this kind of behavior, which is genuinely useful and responsible, when done in moderation, can become compulsive. It can become problematic for that person.
Again, this is something that anyone can experience, even famous people. Jessica Alba has spoken about how her OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) manifested itself in this way. The actress used to unplug every single appliance in her house and double-check every door to make sure it was locked at night. She would behave like this when a panic came over her. After doing something like this compulsive checking, she then felt OK.
In an impressive piece of self-knowledge, Jessica realized that her compulsive behavior was really down to her need to control something. With that kind of understanding, you can get your behavior in check and even view it as positive. As Jessica said, when she was being only a little obsessive-compulsive about things, it meant that she was actually doing things proficiently and to the best of her ability.
Symptom-4 : Hand-Washing
We’re all taught to wash our hands after touching something unsanitary or before we eat. It’s also natural that we might feel a little wary of using public restrooms, because of the question of cleanliness. You might clean your home more regularly than anyone else you know, but, what is usually just a case of good hygiene practice can become a compulsive behavior constant.
Hand washing or extreme cleaning can be signs that you’re experiencing OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). It can relate to obsessive thoughts about germs or a fear of contamination.
Cameron Diaz experienced obsessive compulsive disorder in this way. She revealed that her fear of germs got so severe, she wouldn’t touch a doorknob with her hands. This was because she was concerned about catching something from the other people who’d use it. So, the actress resorted to using her elbow to open doors.
When it came to the door handles in her own home, she cleaned them so often, their original paint faded. It’s not surprising to learn that Cameron also washed her hands many times every day too.
This is a very common OCD behavior, but this didn’t trouble her for long though. The actress revealed that she made peace with it.
Symptom-5 : Fear of contamination
We’ve already heard a little bit about the compulsive behavior that came from a fear of germs, those with OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) can also have obsessive thoughts about contamination by diseases or infections.
This was brought to the public’s attention in quite a big way with the release of The Aviator. The film recounted the story of Howard Hughes, one of America’s first billionaires. The Hollywood movie star became a recluse in later life due to his obsessive fear of contamination.
He lived in a hotel room which he believed to be germ-free, wearing tissue boxes to protect his feet. If anyone near him became ill, he would burn his clothes. His condition was so extreme that after his death, his estate attorney called on the professor of the University of Alabama psychology department to conduct a psychological autopsy.
This uncovered the possible origins of his disorder. His mother was constantly worried about his exposure to germs and terrified that he would catch polio. She checked him daily for diseases.
This is an extreme case, but if you feel your concerns about contamination are stopping you from living your life how you would like to, then you might want to ask for help.
Leonardo Di-Caprio plays Hughes in the film and tapped into his own history of OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) to do the role justice, but rather than a fear of germs, Leo’s obsessive compulsive disorder related to rituals. Specifically, walking a particular way on the sidewalk.
Symptom-6 : Rituals
Hands up if you remember having to walk on the cracks on the sidewalk as a child. Many of us had little superstitions, we grew out of, but these kind of rituals can become more severe. Leonardo Di-Caprio not only had to walk on the cracks on his way to school, but he had also had to walk on gum stains too.
He would even retrace his steps for a whole block if he missed one and when he was playing Howard Hughes in the Aviator, his obsessive-compulsive behavior came back. It took him ages to walk to set, because he would have to step on certain things. He also had to touch the door when he walked through it and then walk out and in again.
The actor let it happen because he was so committed to the role, but he admitted that it did become really bothersome and continued way after filming. Dr. Jeffery Schwartz, an OCD(obsessive compulsive disorder) expert, who advised Leo on portraying Hughes was concerned too. The UCLA psychiatry professor believed that if they’d scanned Leo’s brain at the time, they would have found a level of increased activity people with severe OCD have.
Leo though revealed that he could walk himself through it. Whereas, Hughes couldn’t do that and people with hardcore OCD can’t.
He could tell himself that he was being ridiculous and that he didn’t need to do it. He could reassure himself that nothing bad is going to happen.
Symptom-7 : Counting and Numbers
Rituals can also involve counting as a way of feeling in control, like counting to 100 a certain number of times to ensure the safe arrival of a loved one home from work. Some people with obsessive-compulsive disorder also count unusual things, like the number of times they blink and then they have to do at a particular number of times.
This is part of becoming fixated on certain numbers. It’s not the same as having a favorite number, which is a pretty standard preference. Girls creator Lena Dunham was diagnosed with OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) at just nine years old. In addition to being afraid of illnesses, she also started counting and was obsessed by the number eight.
Her mother decided that she should learn to meditate and Lena credits meditation with making it possible for her to process what she was going through. Although her OCD didn’t go away completely, she accepted it.
Obsession with numbers is also often seen in professional sports players superstitions too. Serena Williams, for example, always bounces the ball five times before her first serve and two times before her second. This kind of behavior also taps into the ritual aspect of OCD. The tennis player herself has admitted to having too many superstitious rituals and finding it annoying.
She believes she’ll lose if she doesn’t do these things, which include tying her laces a particular way and using the same shower. She even thinks it’s totally ridiculous.
This is quite a common response to having obsessive tendencies.
Symptom-8 : Fear of Harming
Pretty much everyone will have unwanted thoughts at one time or another but, persistent unpleasant thoughts that dominate your mind and interrupt other thoughts might indicate an obsession.
One of the symptoms of OCD is the obsessive thought that you’re going to harm yourself or others. This can be a concern about harm happening by mistake or on purpose. Of course it’s natural for us to be concerned about accidentally hurting somebody else. That shows that we’re caring, but if you can’t stop worrying about the possibility that you could burn the house down by leaving the cooker on, then you might want to find ways to stop these unhelpful thought processes.
Obsessive thoughts can also lead to compulsive behaviors as a way of trying to reduce the anxiety that the thought produces, but rather than truly help dealing with the problem, a compulsive kind of behavior will usually be excessive or not realistically connected. Someone who has an obsessive fear of harming their family might then develop the compulsive reaction of repetition.
They believe that if they repeat a certain phrase or action many times over, it will neutralize the negative thought they keep having. Although most people with OCD realize that their compulsive behavior is irrational and makes no sense logically, some just can’t stop acting on it. It becomes a habit that they feel they need to continue to do just in case. It is possible to break the cycle though, with professional help.
Symptom-9 : Avoidance:
Do you ever avoid doing certain things or going to particular places because you know they’ll bring on a type of behavior that you’d rather avoid? This can be a sign that your compulsive behavior is becoming problematic. It could be something as simple as avoiding using public restrooms, because you want to avoid the excessive hand-washing that will invariably follow, or it might mean that you sometimes choose not to leave the house because you can’t cope with having to go through the many rituals you have set up.
These might include touching the doorframe in a particular way or switching the light on and off a certain number of times. In extreme cases, you might avoid the kitchen because you’re concerned that if you see a knife you’ll start worrying you might harm someone with it.
The obsessive thoughts of a person with OCD are just thoughts and aren’t carried out, but the fear is there. The thought could be put into action if avoiding things is having a major impact on your life.
Support is available to help you manage your symptoms. People with obsessive-compulsive disorder also sometimes need constant reassurance and repeatedly ask other people to tell them that everything is ok.
You might find that a friend or family member has notices and wants to help things get better.
Symptom-10 : Arranging
Take a look at the three red dots and two white lines in this OCD test. Do you find it annoying that the middle circle is not exactly in the center?
How about this test!
Can you immediately spot the odd one out in the three spotty red dots? A need for orderliness or symmetry is a common obsessive thought.
This can then result in compulsive behavior of arranging. However, you can also experience the obsessive thought without taking action or take part in the compulsive behavior without having those thoughts.
This can manifest itself in interesting ways, like sorting skittles in two rows of matching colors in the order of a rainbow, using the exact same number of each color. If this is an activity that you enjoy and it helps you feel calm, then you might want to continue doing this. You might even decide to use it as inspiration to be creative.
Rather than focusing on the ordering, try allowing yourself to be free and imaginative instead. Skittles can be arranged into fun pictures like an 8-bit Mario.
Arranging can be a useful outlet for stress, but if it makes you suffer. You want to stop but can’t, there are plenty of professionals who can guide you. Always remember that there’s no shame whatsoever in OCD. It’s a hugely positive step to admit you have a condition and to seek help for it from your doctor or a psychological therapy service if you need to.
Did you know about all ten of these signs of OCD? What are your experiences of OCD?
Let us know in the comments.