Understanding Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder


It is normal to go back inside the house just to double check if we really unplugged the iron or locked the door for safety and security reasons. What is not normal is obsessing whether we locked the door or unplugged the iron despite checking it many times over. These obsessive thoughts become excessive that to a point that it can interfere our lives.


There are Singaporeans who suffer OCD, a disorder characterized by anxiety and unwanted, uncontrollable and repetitive thoughts that a person is compelled to perform. People suffering from OCD may look irrational to us but we have to understand them.

Here are some truths about OCD:

  • Difference between obsession and compulsion: The first thing that we have to know is the difference between obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are characterized by involuntary and uncontrollable thoughts, impulses and images that happen over and over again in our mind. Compulsions on the other hand are characterized by behaviours that thrust us to act it out again and again.
  • Categories: People with OCD fall into different categories. These categories include sinners and doubters, checkers, arrangers and counters, hoarders, and washers.


Sinners and doubters are frightened that if things are not done right, they will be punished. Checkers on the other hand repetitively check things that they think are harm or danger. Arrangers and counters are those who are infatuated with symmetry and order. Hoarders are afraid that if they throw their things, something bad might happen. Lastly, washers are basically afraid of any contamination.

  • Signs and Symptoms: Depending on the category, the signs and symptoms vary. For example, for washers, they repeatedly wash and sanitize their environment more often; they spend most of their washing and cleaning. For hoarders, we will see an accumulation of things (that might look like junk to us but not to them) and many more.
  • Treatment: If we find ourselves in this disorder (or someone we know), we have to seek for treatment right away before it interferes our life fully. We can start by cognitive-behavioural therapy. The good thing is that there are many therapists here in Singapore that can help us. It will be the discretion of the therapists to give us antidepressants. This cognitive-behavioural therapy includes two components – cognitive therapy and exposure and response prevention.

Battling OCD is not easy especially that it is uncontrollable but the thing is, this is our body and we hold the power. We should not let unpleasant things take control.


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