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Oct 14, 2020
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I’m afraid not to turn off the iron: obsessive thoughts are like a disease

About 94% of people in the world have obsessive thoughts from time to time. Most often, doubts like “have I turned off the iron” and “have closed the door”. Less often - obsessive blasphemous and sexual thoughts. This does not mean that most are living with a psychiatric disorder. Doubt is the norm. It is not so important what the plots are, it is important what importance you attach to it.

When does obsessive thoughts become a disease?

The diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive disorder is made when the mental gum begins to dominate the head and subdues the person. Obsessions - they are also obsessions - raise a wave of anxiety and this anxiety becomes the background of life.

To get rid of the heavy feeling of "wrong" rituals arise - compulsions. They must neutralize or prevent a possible disaster. When a person with OCD performs a certain physical or mental activity, there is relief for a short time. This is how the brain gets a positive reinforcement of the compulsion.

Similar rituals are familiar to many of us. Who didn’t spit over his shoulder or chant a phrase after a black cat? You yourself will remember similar actions or amulet words that are supposedly designed to protect. There is again no psychiatry in them, until the search for a piece of wood "so as not to jinx it" becomes manic, and a protective short prayer does not turn into an hour's rule after "dirty" thoughts.

How is an obsessive thought different from a ritual?

People with OCD usually feel the urge to perform some kind of "ritual" right after the fearful thought. Some experts believe that ideas and rituals are always connected, even if a person reflects on one thing. Another popular theory is that actions and mental garbage can go separately.

The same idea can manifest itself as an obsession or as a compulsion. Here are some examples.

  • Thought: “I am heterosexual. I have a wife". Action: "Search for photos by the query" attractive men "and track your reaction to them."
  • Thought: "What if I intentionally turn the steering wheel and hit the oncoming car." Action: "Pat yourself on the head three times to dispel a frightening idea."
  • Thought: "If I look at the clock at 14:32, someone will die." Action: "Turn the dial as the hour X approaches and recheck the impossibility of looking at the time."
  • Thought: "Suddenly the child will suffocate in his sleep." Action: "Set a repeating alarm to monitor the baby's breathing every half hour."

For what reasons can you confuse your head?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder has four options:

  • Ideas of cleanliness or pollution.
  • Thinking about perfect order and symmetry, compulsion to repeat and count.
  • Forbidden, aggressive, sexual, religious thoughts and bodily inhibitory compulsions.
  • A persistent desire to preserve or collect something.

One person may have more than one obsession. Also, some thoughts and actions can change over time to others. For example, as a child, a person obsessively avoided mugs with a hole or was afraid of getting infected on the bus, and as an adult, he imagines setting fire to a house or suddenly scolding a stranger.

I am constantly afraid to leave the iron on. See a psychiatrist?

Doubting, presenting nonsense, rechecking, and having rituals are generally safe. You need to be wary:

  • if disturbing actions and thoughts haunt you every day for an hour or more;
  • if you are afraid of your ideas and impulses;
  • if your habits are bad for your personal life and relationships.

Treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder is most effective when treatment is started as early as possible after symptoms appear. Cognitive behavioral therapy or SSRI antidepressants can help you get back to life without OCD.


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