Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Once again these come under the general heading of anxiety disorders and are characterized by intrusive thoughts (obsessions) repetitive behaviours (compulsions) or a combination of both. These repetitive thoughts and actions are used to reduce anxiety.
Although the person maybe aware of what they are thinking and doing is irrational, the fear around stopping them is overwhelming. They begin to believe that unless these compulsions are not carried out, disaster is imminent and not survivable.
This disorder is related to a biochemical imbalance in the brain and can start in childhood. People often relate that as children they need to count or have magical numbers to ward off danger. A traumatic event can also trigger OCD. It appears that the brain has great difficulty with changing gear and is unable to shift on easily to other activities. For example not believing you have unplugged the jug and that you need to keep checking this task repeatedly.
Symptoms may include repetitive hand washing, aversion to certain objects, people, preoccupation with certain thoughts, carrying out rituals to avoid danger to oneself or to others, and having to obey rules that if disobeyed will bring about certain disaster to oneself or ones loved ones. OCD as it is commonly called, can be treated with both Cognitive Behavioral therapy and sometimes medication. Often the person feels very depressed with this condition and in order to get the therapy working effectively, medication can be required as well.
People often feel great shame around this illness and try to hide their symptoms or want to co-opt family members into assisting them to carry out these actions. For example, not driving over bridges if that is the thing they are trying to avoid.
It can be useful to have family members attend sessions from time to time to gain a better understanding of how to best assist their loved one.