Obsession with cleaning

Cleaning is a necessary activity to maintain health and order at home. However, some people develop an addiction to cleaning that can seriously affect their daily lives. In fact, it can be associated with one of the most common psychiatric illnesses and it is known as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

There is a big difference between cleaning your house regularly and developing an anxiety disorder like OCD. However, it happens more than we can imagine. This is why it is worth thoroughly reviewing the characteristics of this mental illness, to seek professional help in time in case of presenting any symptoms. 

What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder? 

OCD is a mental illness characterized by the appearance of recurrent, persistent and intrusive thoughts that assault the mind producing fear, restlessness, worry or apprehension. These obsessions produce a picture of anxiety in the person, leading them to have repetitive behaviors called compulsions in an effort to reduce anxiety.

We are facing a psychiatric disorder that can have different levels of severity, but we must not confuse OCD with the manias that we all have when doing some activities. For example, it is considered normal to check once if the doors are closed properly before sleeping. However, people with OCD are completely invaded by the thought of insecurity, in such a way that they have to check the doors many times, experiencing insomnia and other associated problems.

obsessions and compulsions

To understand OCD it is important to define its most relevant concepts. First of all, we can say that obsessions are impulses, images, ideas or thoughts that are produced involuntarily, so they invade the consciousness of the person, who in turn tries to suppress or ignore them without any success.

In this way, we can see more clearly the issue of anxiety, which is the product of this internal struggle of the individual himself. This is what finally triggers compulsive behaviors , which are capricious, repetitive activities that are carried out to avoid or produce some future situation that is closely related to the patient’s obsessions.

Cleaning TOC Features 

The obsession with cleanliness is one of the most frequent types of OCD. The person suffering from this disorder develops recurrent thoughts about dirt, germs, contamination and the consequent need to clean themselves and the objects around them, not once but many times in order to reduce anxiety levels

Compulsive cleaners have exaggerated behavior with respect to neatness. These are obsessive people who constantly wash their hands and clean the house daily, even more than once a day. These patients can feel great discomfort when seeing a little accumulated dust, which another person would barely notice. Therefore, it is a disorder that turns the individual into a slave to cleaning, investing a large amount of his time and even money, since he can make purchases of cleaning products, such as disinfectants, hand steamers, vacuum cleaners and other appliances due to to the urgent need to clean.

It is true that having order and cleanliness at home is not necessarily a symptom of an anxiety disorder, it is even valid to practice some activities on a routine basis; for example, not being able to go to bed without clearing the table after dinner. However, the line between mania and obsession can be a fine one, so it’s good to be aware of and watch for cleaning OCD symptoms. 

What are the causes of Obsessive Compulsive Cleaning Disorder? 

The causes of OCD have not been scientifically proven exactly, but it is believed that there is a mixture of social and biological factors. Many patients with this disease were raised in very rigid systems, being constantly controlled and sometimes overprotected by parents, but there also seems to be a genetic predisposition, as some have a family history of this disorder.

However, we can mention some causes that can trigger OCD, such as perfectionism, rigid ideas, intolerance of uncertainty, lack of affection and stress. All this can make a simple habit of cleaning become a big problem, not only for the patient, but also for those around him.

Treatment for OCD

There is no single answer to the concern about how to remove manias and obsessions, since each patient is different and there are many variables. However, we must mention the technique of Exposure with Response Prevention (ERP), a cognitive-behavioral therapy that consists of making the person deliberately face the situation that causes anxiety, while preventing the repetitive behavior that said situation triggers.

For example, if a patient compulsively washes cutlery before using it, he may subject himself to using a spoon that he considers to be contaminated and eating something with it, avoiding washing the spoon as much as possible or allowing someone else to wash it., trying to trust that it is already clean. According to this method, anxiety should decrease progressively over time, so that the patient manages to tolerate more and more easily and thus completely avoid compulsive behaviors.

However, this treatment requires a great disposition on the part of the patient, since it is not about forcing anything, since this can be counterproductive. In addition, this type of therapy must be directed by fully trained psychology professionals. 

Another treatment used to combat the OCD syndrome is cognitive psychotherapy, where, through different tools proposed by the therapist, the patient stops negatively valuing the appearance of these obsessive ideas in his mind, making them less serious, reducing anxiety and finally eliminating the behaviors compulsive

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