Obsession & Compulsion
A national survey has found that 1 in every 50 Australians suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder; so it’s pretty common . Obsession is an intrusive thought or image that pops into your mind over and over against your will. For example, thoughts that things are not clean or that the front door is not locked, or that the gas is not turned off properly. You then may become worried of getting an infection, getting robbed, or burning your house down accidentally. Sometimes obsessional thoughts or images are very odd or frightening; like getting unwanted aggressive thoughts or having sexual images that make you feel very uncomfortable. Compulsion is an act to undo the obsession; like washing things because you’re worried about germs; going back and checking the front door over and over; or doing a ritual to get rid of strange thoughts or images.
Obsessions and compulsions sometimes become quite time-consuming and interfere with normal life; it’s then called obsessive-compulsive disorder (or simply OCD). There are a few other mental illnesses that are sort of similar to OCD in that a person gets stuck with a certain thought or keeps repeating certain behaviour over and over. For example, hoarding disorder is when you get obsessed with used items and can’t throw them away; trichotillomania is when you pull your hair out obsessively; and body dysmorphic disorder is when you get fixated on the idea that a part of your body, like your nose or face, is ugly despite others reassuring you otherwise.
OCD is very time-consuming. For example, it sometimes takes ages for somebody with OCD to get ready in the morning. The person may miss out on social life or work due to spending x amount of time on cleaning or checking. In extreme cases, people with OCD may avoid certain things or places in order to not get obsessive thoughts. For example, they may avoid grabbing handrails on trams and trains because they will then get stressed out about hand germs all the way home. OCD commonly leads to anxiety and depression.