• 20 May
    eWellness Expert

    OCD - Thinking the unthinkable

     ocd

    “It's like you have two brains - a rational brain and an irrational one and they are constantly fighting between the right and wrong."

     

    What are anxiety disorders? 

     

    Anxiety is an unpleasant, vague feeling of discomfort or uneasiness. All of us feel scared and anxious at some point in our lives, however when this anxiety starts disrupting a person's day-to-day functioning, it can be classified as a disorder. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or OCD as we commonly call it is one such anxiety disorder along with many others like PTSD, Panic disorder, Phobias etc.

     

    What is OCD?

     

    A lot of us suffer from intrusive thoughts on a daily basis. These are inappropriate, irrational and in most cases morally wrong. Some common intrusive thoughts are- 

     

    • While driving a car you might think of running over the other car
    • Causing harm to a very near or dear one.
    • Bad thoughts or images during prayer or meditation
    • Thoughts of being crazy

     

     

    These are fleeting, annoying and fearsome. According to Lee Baer, a famous psychologist, suppressing these thoughts only makes them stronger.

     

    However, similar to anxiety if these thoughts start hovering over your daily life and cause compulsive behavior, this can be coined as an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. OCD is an anxiety disorder, which causes immense discomfort. Sufferers are often riddled with persistent and recurrent impulses and unwanted thoughts. An OCD sufferer is also stuck with intrusive thoughts called obsessions followed by repeated behavior known as compulsions

     

     

    I remember growing up hearing about a uncle in my family who doesn't go anywhere, and doesn't want to drink/eat from anyone's place. I had never met him in person until 2 months back. I met him, we had a good time talking but me being an extremely observant person couldn't let go of the little details I was able to put my hands on. The only thing known about him was that he was extremely fearful of eating at someone else's place. Yes, he was suffering from OCD and the sad part is no one in my family is aware of this. This is why mental health awareness is extremely essential in India as sufferers of mental health disorders are called names or are tagged with labels for other people aren't aware of the same. Seeing a psychiatrist still means, 'being crazy.'

     

    How many types of OCD are there?

    Checking - the need to check is the compulsion, the obsessive fear might be to prevent damage, fire, leaks or harm. Common checking includes:

     

    • Gas or electric stove knobs (fear of causing explosion and therefore the house to burn down).
    • Water taps  (fear of flooding property and damaging irreplaceable treasured items).
    • Door locks  (fear of allowing a burglar to break in and steal or cause harm).
    • Windows  (fear of allowing a burglar to break in and steal or cause harm).

     

    The checking is often carried out multiple times, sometimes hundreds of times, and for hours on end, resulting in the person being late for work, dates and other appointments.  This can have a serious impact on a person’s ability to hold down jobs and relationships.  The checking can also cause damage to objects that are constantly being checked.

     

    Hoarding - Another obsession long considered to be part of  ‘OCD’ is the inability to discard useless or worn out possessions, commonly referred to as ‘hoarding’.

     

    Intrusive Thoughts - Intrusive thoughts, in the spectrum of OCD, are where a person generally suffers with obsessional thoughts that are repetitive, disturbing and often horrific and repugnant in nature.  For example, thoughts of causing violent or sexual harm to loved ones. The very idea that they are capable of having such thoughts in the first place can be horrifying.  

     

    Contamination – the need to clean and wash is the compulsion, the obsessive fear is that something is contaminated and/or may cause illness, and ultimately death, to a loved one or oneself. Other examples of this fear are

    • Using public toilets (fear of contracting germs from other people).
    • Coming into contact with chemicals (fear of contamination).

     

    Symmetry and Orderliness - the need to have everything lined up symmetrically just ‘right’ is the compulsion, the obsessive fear might be to ensure everything feels ‘just right’ to prevent discomfort or sometimes to prevent harm occurring.

     

    PURE O- Some individuals may suffer from “Pure Obsessional OCD” (sometimes called “Pure O”) in which they experience thoughts without compulsions.

     

    TREATMENT FOR OCD.

     

    OCD is like any other disease and can be controlled by many means. This means it is like having asthma or diabetes. You can get it under control and become recovered but, at the present time, there is no cure. It is a potential that will always be there in the background, even if it is no longer affecting your life.  The current thinking is that it is probably genetic in origin. 

    Although you can resist performing a compulsion, you cannot refuse to think an obsessive thought since they are biochemically generated mental events that seems to resemble ones own real thoughts, but aren’t. 

     

    • Cognitive/Behavioral Therapy is the best form of treatment for OCD.



    If you think you are suffering from OCD, please don't fear visiting a psychiatrist or Clinical Psychologist. They can help you since psychiatrists can prescribe you medicines and a psychologist can perform therapy. 

     

    You cannot and should not depend upon the help of others to manage your anxiety as it may get worse and may prove to be real dangerous.

     

    It is vital to remember that no one is perfect, nor can anyone recover perfectly.  Even in well-maintained recoveries, people can occasionally slip up and forget what they are supposed to be doing.  Luckily, there is always another chance to re-expose yourself and so, rather than a person beating themselves up and putting themselves down, they can soon regain their balance if they immediately get back on track by turning again and facing that which is feared, and then not doing compulsions.

     

    Finally, because health is the result of living in a state of balance, it is extremely important, post-therapy, to live a balanced life, with enough sleep, proper diet and exercise, social relationships, and productive work of some type.

    Take care of your mental health folks, it's equally important! 

  • 15 May
    Yakata Sharma

    Are you a Tech-Slave?

    phone addiction

     

     

    “Hey! See my new shirt. How do I look?”—extremely delighted Siddharth asked his friend, Rohan.

    Rohan didn’t acknowledge Siddharth’s question and continued playing game on his mobile phone.

     “Rohaaaaaaan! C’mon ya! Look here dude!” screamed Siddharth.

    “O yes! You look great” Rohan said half-heartedly and was back to his game.

    Rohan’s nonchalance towards other individuals grew with the passage of time. While dining with parents he remained engaged doing something or the other with his phone, clearly ignoring his parents’ talks.

    Family gatherings were no different. He preferred sitting at one corner of the room with neck drooped down and mobile in his hands than to play with other cousins of his age.

    He no longer had the same group of friends. He started mingling up with senior boys in college and through them got into gambling.

    He remained active on his mobile till wee hours as a result, his circadian rhythm got altered. During college lectures he “slept with open eyes” all the time which significantly affected his attention and concentration level.

    His mobile addiction started affecting his academic score. He wouldn’t complete his classroom assignments timely. Furthermore, he wouldn’t attend college particularly on assignment submission

    n day(s) instead would sit in the college cafeteria all day long with eyes engrossed in his mobile phone. He wouldn’t even pay attention to his hunger calls. His physical strength deteriorated eventually.

    Soon, Rohan started reporting episodes of severe headaches, had itchy eyes and his vision got blurred too. He frequently complained about issues like sore elbows, hands and neck due to repetitive mobile use.

    While studying he kept on checking his phone after every few minutes. At times he even overheard his phone ringing when actually it didn’t.

    He wanted to get rid of his mobile phone now but couldn’t do so. He felt helpless just like a drug addict.

    Yes! Rohan suffered from Smart-Phone Addiction Disorder also popularly known as Nomophobia!

    Nomophobia is characterized by anxiety caused mainly due to the fear of not having access to a mobile phone. The uncontrollable urge to check mobile every now and then to make sure no call, message or any notification is missed. Researches have shown young adults as the most affected population by nomophobia. 

    The major psychological effects of Nomophobia include:

    • Fear and Panic
    • Aggression and restlessness
    • Low self esteem
    • Low attention and concentration
    • Feeling of missing out (FOMO) or Loneliness
    • A sense of disorientation
    • If not treated timely, can lead to Depression

    Nomophobia, along with major psychological side effects also has physiological repercussions namely:

    • Body aches
    • Pain in fingers, hands and elbow
    • Itchy and watery eyes
    • Tremors
    • Perspiration
    • Agitation and Restlessness
    • Tachycardia
    • Sleep disturbance

    A Mother to her 6 years old daughter—“No baby! Don’t shout we will leave for home shortly.” The girl continued to scream not letting the mother talk to her friend and as an easy resort mother gave her mobile phone to her baby and said—“ Now play with it till I talk to aunty.”

    With an advancement of technology and financial upliftment of society not just the adolescents but small kids of age 4-5 years remain completely engrossed in mobile phones.

    The major responsibility in curbing Smart-phone addiction lies in the hands of Parents, especially the new-breed Parents who being financially sound fulfill every/any whim(s) of their kids without giving a thought about the future disguised repercussions.

    Some parents even appreciate their offsprings operating mobile phones at a very tender age. It has been observed that excess usage of mobile phones at tender age affects the overall mental development of kids.

    Excessive mobile usage among adolescents has risen to an alarming level. Amongst other after-effects of mobile addiction deteriorating rate of Face to Face communication within families and social groups is much talked about.

    As responsible adults immediate steps should be taken to curb excessive mobile usage of teenagers as well as the young school-goers.

    As parents of young kids, it’s better to keep mobile phones out of your kids’ reach and motivate them to engage in more outdoor activities. Never-Ever use Mobile phones as reinforcer/reward in response to a desired behavior.  

    It’s better to cut it at the roots rather than bearing its brunt all your life………

  • 10 Apr
    Yakata Sharma

    Mental illness and society

     

    Human Psychology always fascinated Reema. She was quite excited to opt Psychology as her optional subject in high school. She remembers---“One night prior to my stream selection day,  I discussed my choice of subject with my Parents. Neither of my parents took me seriously and even jokingly said, “Ab tum kya pagalo ka ilaaj krogi?” and that was the beginning of my fight against the society towards mental health and illness.” And against my parents wish I studied psychology! Reema is not alone in this fight…

    The lifestyle of Generation X has turned topsy turvy with an advancement in information and technology, which has challenged society in various ways. Live-in relationships, Delayed marriages/no marriages, homosexuality, house-husbands, and most importantly, mental illness and its treatment. 

    Indians till today prefer to delay treatment courses for psychological problems like schizophrenia, hysteria, depression and suicidal ideation, anxiety disorders, Learning disabilities, Autism spectrum disorders etc. and if somehow manage to undergo treatment, prefer to keep it under the wrap.

    “It becomes a task to inform Parents about their wards condition. ‘Sir, your daughter has dyslexia. She will excel in life, undoubtedly, but if not treated in time, will definitely affect her academic score.’ The Parents were not ready to accept the reality and did not come for the further treatment program.”----shared a well-known School Counselor.

    Another Psychologist shared “People don’t want to accept the prevalence of Hysteria among school students. It’s a major contributor in continuous absenteeism in students at schools. It would have been very easy for the parents to accept, had it been a neurological issue but in case of psychological disorders they prefer to remain in denial which is even worse. We feel helpless in such cases. And the situation becomes graver with the passage of time.” 

    Moreover, the Indian society judges people irrespective of their gender, age, occupation or family background. Seeking mental health assistance for any reason becomes the topic of discussion within the groups. They don’t understand that mental health assistance is not confined with mental health problems. People can approach mental health professionals for any situation/problem which challenges mental balance thereby affecting their day-to-day activities.

    Problems may vary from relationship break-up, failure in examination, over-expectation of parents, job dissatisfaction, marital discord, substance-use/abuse, not able to identify purpose of life, non-assertiveness, aggression, confusion about career choices, helicopter parenting at home, discordant family, procrastination, commitment issues and so on….which do affect ones’ work-life balance.

    Why mental illness is not considered as grave as other medical conditions like cancer and diabetes? Why do people still feel hesitant to talk freely about it? Why do the needy ones remain skeptic about consulting a mental health professional? Why do they have to hide about the treatment program? Why??

    Firstly, it is important to understand what actually is mental illness? Is it “madness” as quoted by Reema's parents? By far, Mental illness is a clinically significant condition/ pattern of a person's behavior or thinking. It is as grave as other medical conditions and requires immediate medical attention.

    Had it not been the increased suicide cases of students in Kota or other college campuses in India, government wouldn’t have initiated “de-stressing students program” at state and national levels. Keeping in mind the gravity of the situation at school level, CBSE made it mandatory to appoint Counselors/Psychologists in all CBSE affiliated schools to attend various plights of students. At college level, counseling cells work all round the year and act vigilantly especially during examinations (the most vulnerable time for suicides). 

    With advancement in technology there are numerous platforms which provide online mental health sessions and counseling to people who feel bothered about the “social tagging” and prefer not to consult a psychologist/counselor in-person.   

    It is crucial to stand together to fight against the social taboo attached with mental illness. Orientation about mental issues organized for different groups of the society especially the “so-called educated” group is a dire need of the hour. Various other initiatives taken by government as well as non-government organizations to throw light on different aspects of mental illness and treatment at college and community levels are applaudable.

    But WE as a society still need to grow and support the people who are suffering from mental illness rather than enhancing their plight further…..!     

     

  • 10 Mar
    Yakata Sharma

    Facebook: A book to be read with caution!

     cyber bullying

    “Hey! Today there was a workshop on cyber bullying and security in school. You missed such an insightful session” - Shalini informed Roma in the evening while they were playing on the ground.

    “Cyber bullying! What is it exactly?” asked Roma

    “You don’t know what’s cyber bullying? Oh C’mon! You remain active 24*7 on social networking sites, Facebook, twitter and what not, and you are asking me what is cyber bullying! Well, Cyber bullying is troubling someone, typically by sending threatening and intimidating messages via electronic medium i.e. Internet.” –Shalini

    “Really! How will somebody threaten you on Facebook? People join Facebook to enhance their social life.”--Roma

    “Let me just correct you it’s more of a Virtual* social life.”—Shalini

    “What’s the difference?”—Roma

    “Well Virtual social life is where you don’t meet the individual ‘in person’ to interact with him/her. Maintaining relationships, friendships on virtual social media is way easier than the actual world. Now don’t give me those ‘surprised looks’.” ---Shalini laughed aloud seeing Roma in a pensive mode.

    “Coming back to your question that how can people be bullied on Facebook? Nowadays it has become a trend to share every minute detail about one’s personal life on Facebook and give an easy pathway to others to create havoc in their life. The majority of teenagers gets bullied on the internet and they don’t even realize it. Don’t look so puzzled Roma.” said Shalini

    “Last year a family came to reside in the neighborhood. The girl was 15 years old and we became best of friends like real soon. She told me about her latest crush whom she found on Facebook. The guy was a total stranger to her; even then that girl accepted his friend request and soon started chatting with him for hours. Within a couple of months the boy proposed the girl to be his girlfriend. She already was ‘madly in love’ with him and without thinking twice she agreed to the proposal. During those long hours of chat she exchanged her personal information, family details etc. with him and never thought twice that it might get her in trouble someday.”

    “Eventually lack of concentration and attention in studies and increased Facebook usage affected her academics. Her social life also was affected badly, for at home she preferred to lock herself in her room. She hardly interacted with her parents. Soon her parents got to know the real reason. They didn’t yell at her, but instead guided her to focus on studies. Keeping in mind her parents’ insight she controlled her Facebook usage and now she only logged in to Facebook once a day. The boy on the other hand got to know about the scenario and tried to brainwash her. He told her not to get affected by it at all because parents only ‘lecture’ their kids whenever possible. In spite of his consistent efforts she stopped using Facebook completely.”

    “One day out of desperation the guy stalked her while she was coming back to home and splashed acid on her face and ran away.” concluded Shalini and left Roma speechless.

     “While working on social networking sites especially Facebook one should always keep in mind a few tips to remain safe:

    • One should NOT add RANDOM people on Facebook. Check if there is good number of MUTUAL FRIENDS? I mean if there are 7 to 10 mutual friends then check whether those mutual friends are actual/real friends or merely virtual friends.

     

    • While chatting on Facebook one should NOT disclose personal details. If the person sitting on the other side of the screen is interested in knowing more about personal information then it’s a red flag to become alert.”

     

    • Do not share any personal photos or videos on Facebook.

     

    • Keep your profile secured by using friends  only option in the PRIVACY setting option of who can see your profile.

     

    • Do not share your location, check ins or other important details on social media.

     

    • Do not share your passwords with any of your friends in any circumstances; for they may misuse it.

     

    • Become vigilant while chatting with a person online. Try to understand the chatting pattern of the person. Many people make fake profiles and bully people.

     

    • In case you are being troubled or bullied by someone then don’t be the victim or hide it. Share it with someone whom you trust (parents, teachers, counselors) so that necessary actions can be taken soon.”

     

    Roma did not realize that Facebook can be an easy platform for cyber bullying to such an extent. She herself had shared a few photos of her on Facebook and never thought that they could be misused. She thanked Shalini for briefing her about it. The first thing she did after reaching home was changed her ‘privacy setting’ on Facebook profile and ‘unfriended’ the randomly added people.

    And now she realized that Facebook is one such book which has to be read with caution….. !   

    Image source

  • 28 Feb
    Yakata Sharma

    De-stressing the exam stress!

    exam stress 

     “I don’t want to disappoint my Parents. They are expecting 90% plus from me in 12th boards since I scored 10 CGPA in 10th. Even my classmates call me ‘Pseudo-topper’. I feel helpless at times. I don’t know what to do. I won’t be able to cope up with exam stress.”

    Recently, a student approached me with the issue of Exam Stress. The question of the hour is---Is it the pressure of cut-throat competition in academics or parents’ higher expectations from their kids to excel in studies a leading cause of exam stress among students??

    The reason can be either of the two or both; however the fact is no student is left unperturbed with Exam stress. What exactly is exam stress?? Let’s understand what Stress is, first.

    The feeling of being “under pressure”, tension, anxiety, nervousness … are the words generally used by individuals to express their state of stress. As per Psychology, Stress is an adaptive bodily response of an individual to certain events (Exams), objects or incidences which affect his/her mental equilibrium.

    Stress is of two types: negative stress is called Distress and positive stress is called Eustress, which feels like “butterflies in stomach” one gets while on a roller-coaster ride. Eustress enhances performance of an individual, motivates him/her to do better than the previous time and boosts his/her morale for further challenges of life.

    Why exam stress is a red flag for students??... The students who suffer from exam stress do face various physical, behavioral and mental demands which may include the following:

    • Lack of attention and concentration, thereby affecting the memory.
    • Low self-confidence and negative self-image.
    • Loss of appetite or binge eating.
    • Low or zero communication.
    • Insomnia or drowsiness.
    • Mood swings.
    • Less or negligible social interaction.
    • Upset stomach or diarrhea.
    • Suicidal ideation---- If not treated timely may lead to clinical Depression.

    Under what circumstances does exam stress arise??...  The common exam stressors include:

    • Self-created pressure to score high (Sometimes more than his/her aptitude).
    • Higher expectations of Parents.
    • Spirit of competitiveness.
    • Comparison with others (Siblings, cousins, classmates etc.).
    • Fear of being left out and fear of rejection.
    • Fear of being ridiculed by parents, siblings, friends, teachers, etc.

     

    I don’t feel stressed during exams. In fact I don’t study all the time. I make sure to take out sometime to watch TV and even go out to play for an hour during exams.” -- Another student from same class told me the other day.  

    Not all students experience exam stress. Why is it so? Exam Stress arises when:

    • There is no structured plan for study.
    • There is no structured plan for revision.
    • No proper schedule for sleep and rest.
    • No healthy and nutritious food habits.
    • Pre-occupied with other negative emotions.

    For a few individuals exam stress, if not worked upon, may prove disastrous.

     

    Here are a few tips to curb exam stress:

    • Plan your study: A proper planning can help you win over exam stress with an ease.
    • Keep in mind the date of examination.
    • Prepare a schedule and stick to it.
    • Divide the course.
    • Set short-term target(s).
    • Include recreational and leisure activities too in the scheduled study plan.
    • Schedule the subjects depending on your productive hours i.e. Morning, afternoon, evening, night or late night.
    • As rightly said, “Discipline is the key to success.
    • Act on the study plan.
    • Keep regular follow-ups with the plan.
    • Review the progress.

    It will be a mere waste of time if one doesn’t stick to the study plan or rather remains engrossed in unimportant tasks while studying. 

    • Focus and attention: One of the major issues with students is that they are not able to retain attention and concentrate for extended period of time while studying for longer duration. For them:
    • Sit at the same place at the same time to study, so that your mind is tuned to the same environment.
    • After every 30-35 minutes of session take 5-10 minute break just to relax your brain.
    • While studying put off all the distractions like, mobile phones, TV, Internet, Video games, PSPs, tablets, etc.
    • Tell your family members about your study time so that they don’t disturb/distract once you have sat to study.
    • Postpone any calls from your friends, relatives, neighbors etc.
    • While revising the lessons engage in Fast Reading.
    • Make use of visual maps and Mnemonics to remember formulas, theorems, periodic table etc.

           “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”----- leisure and recreational activities play a crucial role in de-stressing exam stress. Hence it is necessary to UNWIND YOURSELF during exams.

    • Practice deep breathing exercises.
    • Listen to soothing music.
    • Stretching and walking.
    • Engage yourself in Positive Self-talk and affirmative discussions (I CAN-I WILL) with others.
    • Talk as much as you can with your parents, trusted ones or professionals about this state of yours.
    • Visualize your success.
    • Stay away from rebuttal people.
    • Take the right amount of sleep and timely scheduled rest between the study time.
    • Eat healthy and balanced diet.

     Keep all the above mentioned points in mind and tell yourself to keep calm it’s just an exam!

    Image source

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