Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is one of the most common mental disorders in Hong Kong. It is estimated that about one in every 50 people are affected by OCD at some point in their lives.
OCD is an anxiety disorder where people have recurring, unwanted thoughts or ideas (obsessions) and an urge to do something repetitively (compulsion) to relieve the discomfort or anxiety followed by the obsession, which can significantly interfere with a person's daily activities and social interactions. Four major types of OCD are checking, contamination, hoarding, ruminations and intrusive thoughts.
For people with OCD, uncertainty causes anxiety. When people start experiencing obsessive thoughts, performing rituals may initially give them a sense of security. When the obsessions reoccur, easing the anxiety requires more counteracting rituals for a longer period of time, which is different from creating a sense of security.
Many people have focused thoughts or repeated behaviors, which do not disrupt daily life and simply make tasks structured. OCD patients become trapped in repetitive and senseless thoughts and behaviors that are distressing and time-consuming. The symptoms are also persistent and tend to affect multiple areas of the person's life.
The line between OCD and addiction can be blurry, as the compulsive behavior is a hallmark of addiction. Addiction is a brain disorder characterized by compulsive substance seeking or use, or engagement in "pleasurable activities" despite the harmful consequences. Their key differences are:
While the causes of OCD include genetic, biological, personality development and adaptability factors, it is considered a treatable mental disorder but not a sign of a character flaw.
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