What is an obsession? Causes, symptoms and treatment

Most people have gone through times when, due to times of anxiety, stress or difficult situations, we have experienced a series of recurring and uncontrollable ideas or thoughts that generated high levels of anxiety.

However, while these experiences are generally normal, we run the risk of these thoughts becoming obsessions. So that this does not happen, it will be very useful for us to know what these obsessions consist of, as well as their typologies and the means at our disposal to combat them.

    What is an obsession?

    Obsessions, or obsessive thoughts, are thought dynamics in which the person’s mind clings to a fixed idea. Usually, these ideas are associated with an event, event, or situation that involves concern for him and that generates feelings of fear or anxiety.

    For a thought to be considered obsessive, it must meet a number of characteristics. The first is that these ideas must be repetitive and recurring; that is, they are constantly appearing in the person’s mind.

    In addition, they must also occur unintentionally and be uncontrollable; it means that no matter how hard the person tries not to think about it or to get it out of their head, those ideas will come back to mind, maybe even more strongly.

    The most common causes of these obsessions or obsessive thoughts are states of anxiety and psychological stress. In either case, the person experiences a number of recurring worries or fears which also tend to worsen the symptoms of anxiety.

    As a result, the person is wrapped in a vicious cycle in which they suffer from anxiety which causes them to have a series of obsessive thoughts, which in turn help fuel the symptoms of that anxiety further.

    The ways in which these obsessive thoughts are exteriorized are many and very diverse, and in most cases, they will be influenced by the subject’s personality traits, As well as the context that surrounds it. Obsessive behaviors related to order, cleanliness or physical appearance, are a reflection of these ideas that cloud the mind of the person.

      What makes a concern different from an obsession?

      While it is true that a concern can become an obsession, and this in turn it can acquire a degree of chronicity which makes it pathologicalThere are a number of differences that allow us to distinguish between a preoccupation and an obsessive idea.

      Unlike concerns in the more normative category, obsessive thoughts have a much higher degree of intensity, frequency, and duration, so they are also likely to cause much more discomfort.

      Moreover, in the case of obsessions, the subject has almost no control over them. In other words, that is to say they show much greater resistance to the person’s attempts to remove them from their head.

      Finally, according to a study by Paul Salkovskis, professor of clinical psychology and applied sciences at the University of Bath, found that 90% of mentally healthy people experience a range of intrusive ideas related to concerns that cause a high degree of discomfort anxiety, but which did not reach the category of obsessions.

      When can they be considered pathological?

      As we have seen above, a large number of people have to experience a series of obsessive thoughts of which they should not be attached to any kind of psychological pathology. However, there is a risk that these obsessions will become chronic obsessive thoughts, which can lead to turn into obsessive-compulsive disorder and seriously affect the person’s daily life.

      Recurring obsessions or normative category concerns tend to go away over time, or once the issue is resolved. However, these thoughts can be very painful and stressful.

      When these thoughts become serious obsessions and are accompanied by compulsive acts aimed at reducing discomfort, it is very possible that the person is suffering from the well-known obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). In this case, the obsessions should be called pathological, since they are part of a much larger symptomatology.

      In addition, although this is not a general rule, thoughts specific to this type of psychological alteration do not need to be subject to reason. In other words, the ideas or concerns that flood the patient’s mind may be inconsistent or lack a rational basis.

      For example, the person may think uncontrollably and constantly that if the light stays on, something bad can happen to them when they leave the house, so they perform compulsive and constant checks. Here we show how thoughts are not necessarily logical, because they unite two facts which have nothing in reality to do.

      Finally, although the person may come to accept that their ideas are not based on any logical principle, they are not at all able to eliminate these obsessions.

      Types of obsessions

      As for the content of obsessive thoughts, they can be as varied as there are people in the world. However, there are a number of relatively recurring obsessions both among the population with OCD and among people who, due to anxiety or stress, experience these types of uncontrollable ideas.

      Some kind of obsessive ideas understand:

      • Obsession with order and organization.
      • Obsessive fears about the house. How to shut off the whole house, leave the light or gas open, etc.
      • Irrational and obsessive ideas on cleanliness and illness.
      • Obsessive fear of any physical danger.
      • obsessive thoughts sexual in nature.

      How to deal with these thoughts?

      In cases where obsessions are part of a diagnosis of OCD, the person will need to see a mental health professional to initiate therapy appropriate for their condition.

      However, if these thoughts are only due to a particularly complicated stage in life, there are certain techniques or steps that a person can take in order to decrease or eliminate these thoughts. These techniques include:

      • Keep your mind and body active by exercising.
      • Don’t try to stop or control your thoughts, But let them flow temporarily until their intensity decreases.
      • Know the origin of these and try to fix the problem.
      • Write these thoughts down.
      • Perform relaxation techniques.
      • If nothing works go to a psychology professional.

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