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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Hoarding

May 21, 2008
It is very common to hear people say that they suffer from OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). Although the disorder is common personality quirks are often misunderstood as OCD symptoms.

People that suffer with OCD deal with intrusive and recurrent thoughts (obsessions) along with repetitive and ritualistic acts (compulsions) on a daily basis. These obsessions and compulsions are so extreme that they infringe on the life of the sufferer.

The persistent thoughts or obsessions cause the sufferer stress or anxiety. The compulsions are aimed at preventing or decreasing the distress brought on by the obsessions. Many times the sufferer will be convinced that if the compulsion is not executed some dreaded event or situation will occur.

Some OCD sufferers become hoarders as a way of calming themselves. They may become obsessed with saving anything and everything. This is not to be confused with being a pack rat. Many of us save or collect things. But an OCD hoarder is likely to save so many things that his house becomes an unsafe place to live.

Not only will the closets and drawers be full of stuff, but the entire house may be. In some extreme cases the sufferer may literally live among stacks of mail, newspaper and garbage. Hoarders do not merely collect things; it goes much deeper than that.

A collector is proud of his collection, not only does he take pride in it, he puts it on display. On the other hand, a hoarder is embarrassed by his collection and he certainly does not brag about it. For a hoarder the simple act of throwing away a newspaper or napkin can be devastating.

The compulsions used by the OCD patient are usually not connected in a realistic way with what they are designed to neutralize. Although the sufferer may realize this inconsistency the symptoms persist.

Some OCD patients claim to experience panic attacks after being faced with their dread. Although panic attacks can be present in patients with OCD in most cases these are not true panic attacks. True panic attacks are based on the fear of the attacks themselves. In these cases the OCD patient is experiencing the symptoms associated with a panic attack because they have been faced with their fear or dreaded fear.

In true OCD the sufferer spends an hour or more per day dealing with the disorder. The compulsions often become increasingly time-consuming, leading to distress and the inability to continue functioning as normal. The individual may find that it is necessary to plan hours ahead of time for regular events due to the time needed for the ritualistic behaviors.

Individuals suffering with obsessive compulsive disorder often complain of feelings associated with those of depression. As time goes on the symptoms of OCD may result in the individual spending more and more time at home. This may eventually result in other anxiety disorders, such as agoraphobia or depression.

The good news is that there is help available. If you or someone you love suffers with OCD you should seek help and treatment.
About the Author
To learn more about anxiety disorders and other topics of interest to women of all ages visit:
Debbie Allen is a writer, internet marketer and personal coach.
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