Obsessive-compulsive disorder is one of the most common mental disorders, yet so many people get it wrong. One recent example of the lack of awareness about the condition was a job ad one wedding venue posted on their Twitter account. The ad went: "Slightly OCD? Then we'd like to hear from you," implying the venue is looking for staff who are perfectionists and like to arrange everything in a perfect order. A backlash from those who actually have OCD ensued, and the venue issued an apology and changed the ad.
We are really pleased to see that @Fairyhill_Hotel revised their advertisement after receiving feedback> https://t.co/lNiQXE6wwI. We have lots of work to do to improve awareness & understanding of OCD, but the outcome of this situation shows we are heading in the right direction— OCD Action (@ocdaction) March 20, 2018
The point is that obsessive-compulsive disorder is largely misunderstood. Some of its symptoms may really seem like perfectionism in the extreme but there's much more to the condition than most people know.
So, below we list some common signs and symptoms of OCD to make it clear that the condition is not a synonym of perfectionism.
6 signs and symptoms of OCD
1. You wash your hands over and over again
It's normal to feel the need to wash your hands after touching handrails and doorknobs in public places. That's what your doctor would recommend. But many people with OCD have an extreme fear of contamination that's why they wash their hands and/or take a shower multiple times daily.
2. You fear you might hurt someone or yourself
You are at a subway station. You hear the train nearing the platform and suddenly a thought comes to mind: "What if I pushed someone onto the tracks?" or "What if I jumped down on the tracks and got hit by the train?". People get weird thoughts sometimes. But then, most of them think "Oh, that was weird" and move on. If someone with OCD gets such a thought, they would then think about how bad this thought was for hours, and they may fear they'll lose control and act out this strange thing that came to their mind.
3. You check if the door is locked countless times
It's another common behavior seen in OCD: checking if the door is locked, if the stove or iron is turned off, if the car isn't running, and so on. It's normal to check the front door once in a while when the moment of locking has slipped from your memory. But if you do it multiple times a day, it may be one of the signs of OCD.
4. You need things arranged in a certain way and order
If you are a perfectionist, a misplaced tile will tick you off a bit, but you may soon forget about that. If you have OCD, you'll think about that tile over and over. People with OCD need things arranged in a certain order (say, books arranged strictly by author and title, or dishes arranged by size). If things aren't arranged the right way, a person with OCD will experience extreme anxiety.
5. You often get unwanted thoughts you can't get rid of
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People with OCD may get disturbing thoughts of sexual or violent nature, and it gets hard for them to focus on anything else. They won't act upon these thoughts, but they fear they actually may, and the thoughts interfere with their normal daily activities.
6. You have an extreme fear of making a mistake
People with OCD can be extremely demanding when it comes to their own work or anything they do. They'll check it up multiple times or have others check it, fearing they have made a mistake which can lead to what they perceive as catastrophic consequences.
If you have intrusive thoughts and compulsive behaviors which take much of your time and prevent you from doing your regular activities, please see your doctor. He or she can recommend a qualified therapist who will help you break the vicious cycle of obsessions and compulsions.
Before that, you can take an online test to find out how likely you are to be affected by OCD.
This article is solely for informational purposes. Do not self-diagnose or self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for any harm that may result from using the information provided in the article.