May 192013

Did you check your door to see if it was locked more than once? Maybe a few times?

Or is there some other repetitive behavior that makes you question if you have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) or OCD symptoms? Is this ‘forgetting’ something you should be concerned about?

We’ve all done it. Some of us more often than others. We forget we did something. Did we lock that door? Or did we turn off the outside light? Then we worry that we are losing our cognitive abilities, or maybe we really do have that mental disorder with the OCD symptoms.

Stress makes your mind wander

Many times, people do not have OCD as the symptoms don’t fit the diagnostic criteria according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM). They may feel they have ‘a touch’ of OCD when they have to keep checking things. That ‘checking’ behavior is to assure themselves they completed the task. This is not OCD albeit it mimics OCD symptoms. It is stress-related interruptions of an individual’s thought processes.

OCD symptoms include locking doors repeatedly

OCD symptoms are not OCD but stress related interruptions. Photo by Michelle Meiklejohn/freedigitalphotos

Stressful thoughts consume the mind’s ability to focus on the present task. That focus is needed to avoid repetitive behavior to assure the task was completed.

When you do monotonous, repetitive tasks, your mind will wander. These chores/tasks are things you do ‘over and over’ again and doesn’t take much thought on your part. Since it doesn’t take much thought, you are not fully aware that you are doing it. The automatic tasks don’t require your full attention and concentration.

You do it without thinking.

This is when your mind will wander taking away your consciousness (mindfulness). Instead of focusing on the present task, you will be thinking about other things. Usually, the interrupting thoughts are issues that cause us anxiety and give us stress.

So while you are locking that door, you are not thinking about locking the door. You are thinking about more important things that invade your mind. Later, you don’t remember locking the door.

Therefore, since you don’t remember if the task was completed, you check again. And maybe keep checking as when you did check, your mind was again not on the present.

How to stop the OCD symptoms

When you lock your door, stop everything and clear your mind (or any other repetitive task). Stand there and take in the actual action of locking the door. This may require standing there longer than a minute to make yourself aware of your actions. You need to train your thoughts to be aware of what you are doing (mindfulness) during the repetitive tasks.

Insight on OCD behavior

Individuals with OCD are known to have a higher IQ than the general population. This fact can be applied to the ‘possible’ OCD that some of us think we have.

Let’s put it in perspective:

Some of us have difficulty in being attentive to repetitive tasks. This is because our minds are constantly racing on more important issues other than redundant tasks. Pondering important issues can lead to better problem solving skills. Problem solving skills is a factor in the IQ test.

Could this ‘intelligent thinking’ be the association with OCD behaviors?

Could the treatment plans for OCD include attention modification or the ‘dumbing down’ of your own thought processes?

Something to think about …

Clinical OCD Symptoms