The Obsessive-Compulsive Spectrum

While we are familiar with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), we may not be so familiar with the conditions included in the Obsessive-Compulsive Spectrum. Some of these are listed here:

• Body Dysmorphic Disorder is an obsessive preoccupation with a sight defect, be it real or imagined, in a person’s appearance, which leads to looking in the mirror excessively and disguising the imperfections through clothing or cosmetics. Frequently involving facial features, the hair, or skin, a lot of time is spent on a daily basis just to get ready and prepared to face the world.

• Hypochondriasis is the dread of having a serious illness. A person afflicted with hypochondriasis usually blows minor symptoms out of proportion and is not convinced with reassurances even if these reassurances come from a doctor. This obsessive fear brings about repeatedly checking for symptoms of sickness and going to a doctor for checkups and unnecessary medical tests.

• Trichotillomania is manifested as compulsively pulling out one’s hair resulting in visible hair loss on any part of the body. Feelings of relief and gratification usually follow after a person satisfies his craving of pulling out hair.

• Compulsive Skin Pricking involves repeatedly pricking one’s skin until the appearance of damage can easily be noticed. Usually centered in the facial area, a person with this compulsion will tend to pick at moles, pimples, freckles and even normal skin for hours because the pricking motion is felt as something stimulating or soothing.

• Tourette’s Syndrome is manifested through tics, either motor tics or verbal tics, and usually appears before a person turns 18. With no apparent cause, the tics are seen as either recurring movements or recurring sounds that happen many times on a daily basis and usually change in nature over time.

• Seen as an obsession related to food and eating, eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia are considered part of the obsessive-compulsive spectrum where a person with this disorder binges and purges or in extreme cases doesn’t eat altogether.

• A person diagnosed with Olfactory Reference Syndrome is obsessed with body odor wherein there is an apparent fear that his genital area, breath, armpits and feet give off foul odors. Due to the fear of having an offensive smell, a person feels considerable distress and usually avoids socializing with other people because of this fear.

The obsessive-compulsive spectrum has a couple of conditions that have the same characteristics with that of OCD and a person may get afflicted with one or more of the conditions where symptoms can change over time. With the help of therapy and medication, these symptoms can be treated for an improved quality of life.

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