How bad is OCD? (5 reasons why it’s bad)

This blog post aims to answer the question, “How bad is OCD?” and explores what OCD means, its symptoms, causes and various types and the impact of the disorder on the various aspects of life to help understand the answer. 

How bad is OCD?

OCD can be really bad if its severity is on the higher end as well as when it is left untreated. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a long-term mental illness characterised by uncontrolled obsessions and obsessive activities. When this illness gets serious, it can disrupt relationships and obligations, lowering the quality of life dramatically. OCD may be crippling.

OCD is bad when it starts affecting the following areas of a person’s life highly adversely –

  • Physical health.
  • Mental health.
  • Coping mechanisms.
  • Daily life.
  • Family and people around. 

What is OCD?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterised by a pattern of unwanted thoughts and anxieties (obsessions) that cause you to engage in repetitive actions (compulsions). Obsessions and compulsions create severe suffering and interfere with daily tasks.

You can try to ignore or stop your obsessions, but this will only make you feel worse. Finally, you feel compelled to engage in obsessive behaviours in order to relieve your tension. Despite attempts to ignore or eliminate troublesome thoughts or desires, they persist. This feeds into the OCD’s vicious circle of ritualistic activity.

OCD is frequently centred on specific themes, such as an excessive fear of being contaminated by germs. You can wash your hands till they’re painful and chapped to alleviate your contamination anxieties. If you have OCD, you may feel ashamed and embarrassed about it, but there is help available.

What are the symptoms of OCD?

Obsessions and compulsions are common in obsessive-compulsive disorder. However, just obsessive symptoms or simply compulsion symptoms are feasible. 

You may or may not recognise that your obsessions and compulsions are excessive or unjustified, yet they consume a significant amount of time and disrupt your daily routine, as well as your social, school, and professional functions.

Obsession symptoms.

Obsessions with OCD are intrusive, recurring, and unwelcome thoughts, impulses, or visions that create anguish or worry. You might try ignoring them or executing a compulsive activity or routine to get rid of them. Obsessions usually pop up when you’re attempting to think of or accomplish anything else.

Obsessions frequently have themes, such as –
  • Contamination or dirt phobia
  • Doubting oneself and finding it difficult to accept ambiguity
  • Needing things to be symmetrical and orderly
  • Thoughts of losing control and injuring yourself or others that are aggressive or horrifying
  • Unwanted ideas, such as violence, as well as sexual or religious topics
The following are some examples of obsessive indications and symptoms –
  • Fear of becoming infected by touching items that have been touched by others
  • Doubts regarding having locked the door or turned off the stove
  • When things aren’t in order or facing the right way, it causes a lot of tension.
  • Driving your automobile into a throng of people is an image that comes to mind.
  • Unpleasant sexual imagery thoughts like yelling obscenities or acting improperly in public
  • Avoiding circumstances that may cause obsessions, such as shaking hands.

Compulsion symptoms.

Compulsions are recurrent activities that you feel compelled to do because you have OCD. These habitual activities or mental acts are intended to alleviate anxiety caused by your obsessions or to prevent anything awful from occurring. 

Compulsions, on the other hand, provide no pleasure and may only provide a momentary reprieve from tension. When you’re having obsessive thoughts, you might set up rules or routines to assist you to regulate your anxiety. These compulsions are extreme, and they’re often unrelated to the problem they’re supposed to solve.

Compulsions, like obsessions, usually have a theme, such as –
  • Cleaning and washing
  • Checking
  • Counting
  • Orderliness
  • Sticking to a rigorous schedule
  • Requiring assurance
The following are some examples of compulsive signs and symptoms –
  • Hand-washing until your skin is red and irritated
  • Checking doors to make sure they’re locked on a regular basis
  • Checking the stove to make sure it’s turned off on a regular basis
  • Counting in particular patterns is a fun way to pass the time.
  • Repeating a prayer, statement, or phrase silently
  • Organize your canned goods so that they all face the same direction.

OCD generally develops in adolescence or early adulthood, although it can sometimes begin in childhood. Symptoms normally appear gradually and progress in intensity over time. 

Obsessions and compulsions can change over time, as can the sorts of obsessions and compulsions you have. When you’re under a lot of stress, your symptoms usually get worse. 

OCD, which is commonly seen as a lifelong condition, can manifest itself in mild to moderate symptoms that can be so severe and time-consuming that it becomes incapacitating.

What are the causes of OCD?

The exact aetiology of obsessive-compulsive disorder is unknown. The following are some of the most popular theories –

  • Biology – Changes in your body’s natural chemistry or brain functioning might cause OCD.
  • Genetics – Although OCD may have a hereditary component, no particular genes have been discovered.
  • Learning – Obsessive phobias and obsessive habits can be learnt through observation of family members or through time.

What are the risk factors of OCD?

The following factors may raise your chances of acquiring or causing obsessive-compulsive disorder –

  • History of the family – Having OCD-affected parents or other family members increases your chances of having the illness.
  • Life experiences that be stressful – Your risk may rise if you’ve been through traumatic or stressful experiences. This reaction could, for whatever reason, set off OCD’s intrusive thoughts, rituals, and emotional distress.
  • Other types of mental illnesses – Other mental health conditions, such as anxiety disorders, depression, substance misuse, or tic disorders, may be linked to OCD.

What makes OCD bad?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder can cause a variety of issues, including –

  • Excessive time spent on ritualistic activities
  • Contact dermatitis from regular hand washing is one example of a health problem.
  • Attending job, school, or social events with difficulty
  • Relationships that are in trouble
  • Overall, the quality of living is terrible.
  • Suicidal ideas and actions

The several complications involved in OCD makes several aspects of the patient’s life very difficult and impact the following areas adversely, thereby reducing their quality of life and worsening their OCD. 

Physical health. 

Tic disorders affect some persons with OCD. Blinking, shrugging, throat clearing, and sniffing are examples of sudden repeating motions.

OCD is a terrible, persistent disorder that impacts every part of your life. Symptoms can be severe at times. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is wrongly depicted as good quality and personality quirk in popular culture and the media, but the fact is that it has a catastrophic impact on the lives of individuals who suffer from it.

Mental health. 

Coexisting mental health issues in people with OCD include –

  • anxiety disorders
  • depression
  • bipolar disorder
  • schizophrenia
  • substance use disorder

A disproportionately large percentage of people with OCD, nearly half of all instances, are classified as severe, with fewer than a quarter being classified as mild.

In fact, OCD is so severe and problematic that the World Health Organization (WHO) has included it among the top 10 most disabling disorders in terms of lost earnings and quality of life. According to the same research, OCD is the sixth biggest cause of illness burden for women aged 15 to 44 in industrialised countries.

Daily life.

OCD can be so severe that it has a significant influence on some or all aspects of a person’s life, interrupting or entirely destroying –

  • Education
  • Employment
  • Career advancement
  • Relationships with partners, parents, siblings and friends
  • Beginning a family
  • Access to one’s own offspring
  • Quality of life

Coping mechanisms.

Additionally, some of the behaviours patients use to manage OCD can be harmful, such as –

  • Compulsions cause physical harm – Red, raw, bleeding skin; eye injury.
  • Substance abuse – Using alcohol, drugs, or other substances to self-medicate.
  • Terminations – Because of their OCD, some women have felt compelled to undergo abortions.

OCD may have a variety of effects on people. Some persons may be unable to leave the house or handle routine tasks because they spend most of their day fulfilling numerous compulsions. 

Others may appear to be managing day-to-day living but nonetheless experiencing significant anguish as a result of obsessive thinking. Some persons with OCD may do their rituals and compulsions in secret or fabricate reasons to avoid social engagement in order to fulfil them.

The severity of OCD varies greatly from person to person. Some people may be able to conceal their OCD from their loved ones.

However, the illness may have a significant detrimental influence on social connections, leading to frequent family and marital disputes or unhappiness, divorce, or separation. 

It also interferes with a person’s leisure activities as well as their capacity to study or work, resulting in lower educational and/or vocational attainment and unemployment.

When the individual with OCD has little understanding of the disease, it can be especially tough for the family. In these situations, the individual will have difficulties recognising that their worries are excessive, that they may have OCD, or that they require assistance. There are also regular allegations of the family being financially strained.

In rare situations, a parent’s OCD symptoms may directly influence the well-being of family members, such as when contamination fears lead to severe cleanliness measures.

Family and people around. 

The effect on family members should not be overlooked. Loved ones are frequently inadvertently entangled in OCD compulsions

  • Providing assurance.
  • Fearful of provoking their loved one’s OCD, they avoid certain things or situations.
  • Performing compulsions for their loved one with OCD, such as caring for their child, taking out the trash, and stripping nude at the door to avoid spreading ‘infection.’

There are few long-term studies that focus exclusively on the prognosis for severe OCD. Factors like comorbid mental or developmental disorders might have an impact on the outcome.

Early to middle childhood start, according to some studies, is linked to a higher probability of spontaneous remission than later onset. A higher result is also linked to positive family engagement and emotions.

A drug and treatment combination is normally highly successful, but it takes time to act. New therapies for severe OCD are also on the horizon. Good doctor-patient communication is a critical component of successful therapy. Between sessions, it’s also crucial to keep practising what you’ve learned in treatment.

Conclusion – 

This blog post attempted to answer the question, “How bad is OCD?” and reviewed what OCD means, its symptoms, causes and various types and the impact of the disorder on the various aspects of life to help determine how bad OCD is. Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions or comments you may have.

References –

Pietrangelo, A. Understanding the Impact of Severe Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). (2019, December 20). Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/severe-ocd#:~:text=Obsessive%2Dcompulsive%20disorder%20(OCD)%20is%20a%20chronic%20mental%20health,It%20can%20be%20debilitating.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Mayo Clinic Staff. (2020, March 11). Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/obsessive-compulsive-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20354432

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). KidsHealth. (2021, July). Retrieved from https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/ocd.html

The Impact of OCD. OCD UK. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ocduk.org/ocd/impact-of-ocd/

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd

Fields, L. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). (2020, September 4). Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/obsessive-compulsive-disorder

Bonvissuto, D. How Do I Know if I Have OCD? (2022, April 01). Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/understanding-obsessive-compulsive-disorder-symptoms

Obsessive compulsive disorder. (2017, May 17). Retrieved from https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/obsessive-compulsive-disorder

Wood, M. Medication, therapy and now surgery offer hope for severe obsessive compulsive disorder. (2018, November 11). Retrieved from https://www.uchicagomedicine.org/forefront/neurosciences-articles/medication-therapy-and-now-surgery-offer-hope-for-severe-obsessive-compulsive-disorder

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Symptoms, Causes and Effects. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.psychguides.com/ocd/symptoms-causes-and-effects/

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