Case study
Seun’s husband tells her that she’s paranoid about germs but she believes she’s just doing everything she can to protect their baby. It was such a struggle to get pregnant after lots of IVF treatment that she can’t allow anything to go wrong. She feels her husband doesn’t seem to understand that, while she was pregnant, it’s down to her to make sure the baby is okay. Seun noted she had no idea of all the things that you have to be careful about. She had never heard of toxoplasmosis until one of the mums at her antenatal group told her about it. Since then she has been extra careful around cats. She decided not to visit my sister anymore because she has a cat. She had a blazing row with her husband yesterday for leaving the kitchen window open — which she now checks almost every minute. She stopped going out! Vacuums the home three times daily. She just doesn’t understand how he can be so careless when he knows the neighbors have a cat and it could easily get in.’ (OCD Characterized by contamination fears).
(adopted from cognitive behavior therapy for OCD)

Obsessive compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a disorder that causes recurrent and repeated unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and/or urges to do things over and over again (Obsessions). Many times people have the two feelings together. OCD affects about 1% of every country’s population, with an almost equal aggregate of men and women population equally, with an average age of onset of about 19 years. In fact, it’s believed among professionals that OCD’s start in the late childhood to adolescence. In Nigeria, there is a yearly estimate of about 100,000 yearly.
Everybody has habit and some are bad habits but OCD is not just that bad habit like nail biting, nose picking, (or put your hand “there’ and smelling or just bad thoughts! OCD with obsessions are thoughts that are intrusively disturbing even when not bad “I could have caught germs” “my electric cooker is on” ‘ my girlfriend is cheating’ which take up our thinking time – uncontrollable disturbing – disruptive to our life while the compulsions are acts that are required to be carried out else the agitation and anxiety might become disabling such as “checking the door repeatedly” “rearranging home countlessly” “washing hands repeatedly” etc., the bottom line here is the feeling of powerlessness to stop the thought or/and the acts.

There are different types of OCD
OCD’s are commonly divided into broad types, although in reality it may not be easily compartmentalize.
Checking type: checking and vigilance actions such as checking locks, gates, checking for illnesses or checking for signs of unfaithfulness in relationships etc.
Contamination type: fear or belief that something is wrong or need to be clean or infected i.e. of germs, dirt etc.
Symmetry and order: the need for things to be in place i.e. setting up the room or house in immaculate patterns and when things are not the way it was set up becomes a reason for distress.
Ruminations and intrusive thoughts: thinking that something will go wrong i.e. if I don’t pray now someone will die and it can be violent thoughts or paralyzing/disturbing.
Causes of OCD are multifaceted but common agreed causes include
A parent/sibling or family member with OCD
Brain abnormalities
Consequences of other mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety and tics
Previous trauma
Childhood – sexual – psychological – abuse
Medical condition in childhood such as streptococcal infection (Pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcal infections – PANDAS).
OCD is a difficult disorder to treat but often managed by combination of treatments depending on its presentation, causes and the difficulties faced by the sufferers.
Psychotherapy: Cognitive and behavioral approaches are used to help sufferers to change thinking, behavior and prevent continuation of debilitating rituals that can help OCD to continue. Also, they usually add some specific types of relaxation exercises. These are often provided by a Clinical Psychologist.
Medication: Psychiatric drugs are also used to control obsessions and OCD and might be very essential when there are multiple other difficulties like depression and anxiety for the sufferer, often prescribed by a Psychiatrist
Neuromodulation: in cases where psychotherapy and medication are not giving the desired improvement there are devices used to change electrical activities of the brain (they often use the devices to stimulate nerve cells) such as Transcranial magnetic stimulation(TMS ) and Deep brain stimulation.
Finally, when obsessive thoughts or compulsive behaviors hijack your life don’t give up. The first step is self-care (eat well, sleep well, steer clear of caffeine), get active with exercises, seek support and seek out a mental health expert. At DAIMONDMOOR we care and we are ready to offer help in seeing your mental health well managed and handled professionally at this period, please contact us, [email protected], 081 2827 6962, +234 2291 4084.