What is A Compulsive Disorder?


Person washing his hands

Person washing his hands (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Compulsive disorder is defined as a behaviour that involves a repeated action that, on its own, is not addictive like eating, using internet, shopping, sex and gambling.  The action is conducted repeatedly because of an impulse and usually against the individual’s interest.  To most people compulsive behaviour is a way of reducing the anxiety that comes with an internal feeling the individual desires to control or abstain.

When it comes to the symptoms of this disorder, it depends with the nature and type of behaviour. However, individuals suffering from this disorder will feel like they are unable to control their impulses and end up engaging in the behaviour regardless of the consequences. The behaviour itself does not provide any type of pleasure or satisfaction but it is usually an escape from problems.  It is important to note that compulsive behaviours will disrupt the individuals’ ability to work either at home and at work.

Compulsive behaviour is usually associated with obsessive compulsive behaviour disorder, in which the individual will experience obsessions and compulsions. As both a behaviour and brain disorder, OCD causes anxiety and leads to compulsions such as checking and washing. Compulsive disorder is also seen in compulsive sexual behaviour also known as hypersexuality, a condition in which sex becomes an obsession and the individual experiences sexual fantasies and  experiences that are not considered as the norm.

Before making a conclusion about the condition, it is important that the individuals get a proper diagnosis. In doing this, they will be able to understand the type of condition they are suffering from, as well as the different ways of coping with the condition.

One of the most popular methods of treatment is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). It will focus on exposure and response prevention, where the individual is trained to refrain from the compulsive behaviour. This is done to break the anxiety that they experience when they do not engage in the compulsive behaviour.

The therapy will also focus on cognitive therapy, which will deal with sense of responsibility and catastrophic thoughts that is associated with compulsive behaviour.  It will train the individual on how to avoid the behaviour by focusing on effective and healthier ways of responding to obsession.

Since compulsive behaviour also affects family and friends, there are therapies that have been designed to cater for this.  The therapy will help the loved ones understand compulsive behaviour so that family conflicts are reduced. Aside from that, it can help the family members help their loved ones. Family and friends will also be able to know how to treat their loved one because it has a huge impact on them. Some important factors to consider include communication, avoiding the temptation to play along to the compulsive rituals and to be kind and patient.

People with compulsive behaviour can also get help in group therapy. The main aims of such groups are to help them share their feelings and experiences with others as well as receive support and encouragement. This goes a long way to reduce the sense of isolation they suffer.


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