Obsessive-compulsive disorder is an anxiety disorder characterized by obsessions, in the form of recurrent unwanted thoughts, and compulsions, in the form of repetitive behaviors. The most mainstream symptom of this disorder, as seen in popular media, is the compulsion to keep things clean and in their proper place. Failure to adhere to these compulsions results in extreme anxiety that can exacerbate the condition. Some of the repetitive behaviors related to obsessive-compulsive disorder include activities such as cleaning, counting and checking, and hand-washing. These repetitive behaviors are done in an effort to prevent obsessive thoughts, but the relief gained from performing these “rituals” is only temporary, and they may need to be done repeatedly to prevent further anxiety and stress.
Addiction can lead to psychological disorders, and addicts who suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder are plagued by unwelcome thoughts that can only be silenced through succumbing to one’s compulsions – specifically, the compulsion to take more drugs. To the untrained eye, the so-called rituals of individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder may just seem like overzealousness, because even healthy people have their own rituals such as washing their hands before every meal or something similar. The difference lies in how much these rituals become a part of one’s life. Individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder feel the need to adhere to their rituals, even if doing so interferes with other aspects of their life. As with addiction, this disorder pushes an individual to behaviors that can be harmful to one’s self and to those close to him or her.
Ironically, people suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder take drugs or alcohol to alleviate its symptoms, even temporarily. The treatment of the disorder involves psychotherapy and medication that can help individuals cope with and eventually overcome their unpleasant thoughts. Often, a method called desensitization is employed wherein an individual is exposed to and made to face certain situations that will normally cause fear or anxiety in an effort to make him or her less sensitive to them. Other methods are also available for those who find desensitization ineffective, such as deep brain stimulation and cognitive behavior therapy.