The thought of touching a handle in a public bathroom or a door on the subway turns most people off. But, if you have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), sanitizing your hands isn’t enough to make you feel better after hitting the subway ramp. You think, “this ramp is covered in germs. If they are on me and enter my body, I risk getting sick. I have three children, I can’t be sick. What will happen if I can’t go to work? What if I die? What will happen to my children?” All those unwelcome thoughts and negative images you go through in your head are an obsession, says Jeff Szymanski, CEO of theInternational OCD Foundation.
The obsessions often cover the same themes. This is the irrational fear of being contaminated, most often by microbes. To make your worry go away, you wash your hands… 50 times. And routine handwashing can be so elaborate that you arrive late for work or argue with family members. This compulsive behavior is unhealthy, says Jeff Szymanski, because it seeks to counter an obsession, is excessive, and interferes with your daily life.
Everyone has their little quirks and tics. Check to see if they are normal or a more serious problem.