written by: Roohi Khan
• edited by: Diana Cooper
• updated: 10/10/2010
An obsessive fear of catastrophes can make an individual indulge in compulsive checking, a behavior commonly found in OCD checkers. Find out more about the behaviors of checkers and the treatment available for this type of OCD.
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Obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD is an anxiety disorder characterized by unreasonable and intrusive thoughts and fears called obsessions followed by repetitive behaviors or compulsions carried out in an attempt to relieve the anxiety. There are various types of OCD and these include hoarding, washing and cleaning, obsessing, repeating, thinking ritualizers, ordering, and checking. Here we take a brief look at the symptoms and behaviors of OCD checkers and find out what are some of the treatment options available for these checking compulsions.
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Symptoms and Behaviors of OCD Checkers
If someone you know is constantly checking on things to prevent a catastrophe, he or she has checkers OCD. These people may be checking again and again to see if the stove or the iron has been turned off fearing that it may start a fire. In some cases, the person may actually return after leaving home because he or she is not sure whether these household appliances are actually turned off.
Individuals with this type of OCD carry out these checking compulsions to repress the anxiety that arises from obsessive thoughts about something dreadful happening to them. They may check the door lock again or check the windows again and again before leaving home to make sure that everything is secure and safe.
Some checkers can even go around checking to make sure that no one has been harmed or hurt. The fear of suffering a life-threatening disease can make them obsessed with their body and they may keep checking to make sure that they do not develop any such illness.
Sufferers of this type of OCD may also be overly concerned about the content of a letter or email and may check over and over again to make sure that they there is no mistake or nothing offensive is written in the document. They may also check and recheck a checkbook to make sure that it is correctly balanced.
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Treatment for OCD Checking
A very important characteristic of obsessive-compulsive disorders is that the obsessions and compulsions interfere in the life of the individual. If these obsessions and checking compulsions are causing interference in your work or relationships, it is time to consult a mental health practitioner who will suggest the right kind of treatment for you.
The first thing that the mental health practitioner will do is to make sure that your symptoms and behaviors satisfy all the criteria of OCD as specified by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychiatric Disorders, the standard criteria for diagnosing all mental disorders.
There are two main treatment approaches to OCD checking and these include psychotherapy and medications. A combination of both these treatment approaches is what usually works for most patients.
Psychotherapy is usually in the form of cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT which involves changing thought patterns so that compulsive behaviors do not occur. CBT can be combined with antidepressants such as clomipramine and fluoxetine to help increase levels of the neurotransmitter, serotonin, in the brain, which seems to be lacking in people who have OCD.
Obsessive fears about catastrophes and checking compulsions can really dominate the lives of OCD checkers. If your life is controlled by your fears and checking compulsions, it is time to seek medical help and get back to leading a normal life.
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AllPsych Journal: Symptom Clusters of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder