How does a person suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder

Psychiatry, Psychosomatics & Psychotherapy

Obsessive-compulsive illness is a mental disorder, the main characteristics of which are recurring unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and compulsive actions that stereotypically preoccupy the person concerned. Most people know obsessive thoughts or actions about themselves, e.g. checking whether the door is really closed, even though you actually know that you have only just locked it. One speaks of an obsessive-compulsive disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder only if such behaviors are repeated over and over again and assume such an extent that the person concerned suffers from it and / or everyday life is impaired.

This disease usually includes obsessions and compulsions. Obsessive thoughts are ideas, thoughts or impulses that the person concerned recognizes as nonsensical or exaggerated, which do not reflect his own opinion, but which nevertheless force themselves over and over again. They trigger uncomfortable feelings such as fear, discomfort or disgust. Compulsive acts are repetitive behaviors that often always have to proceed in the same way and that the person concerned feels urged to do even though he recognizes them as exaggerated or pointless. Obsessions are often aimed at reducing the anxiety, discomfort, or disgust caused by obsessions.

The patients are mostly aware of the absurdity of their behavior, although this certainty can be different depending on the person and can change depending on the situation. Only a small fraction of patients and children have little or no understanding that their behavior is excessive and unfounded.

After years of illness, compulsions have sometimes become so part of life that the feeling of meaninglessness can be lost. Those affected suffer from the compulsions and their consequences and are often ashamed of the compulsions. There is therefore a tendency towards concealment, which is why the term “the secret disease” is common.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder affects 2 to 3% of the population at some point in their lives. This is the fourth most common mental disorder. The first symptoms often appear in childhood or adolescence. There is evidence of an increased occurrence of the disease between the ages of 12-14 years and between 20-22 years. In 85% of all those affected, the obsessive-compulsive disorder begins before the age of 30, the onset in men is on average 5 years earlier than in women. In childhood, boys are likely to be affected somewhat more often than girls (3: 2); from adolescence onwards, men and women suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorders about equally often. Obsessive-compulsive disorder is differentiated from obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, with 8-29% of patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder also having an obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.