Friday, February 26, 2010

Stress And Obsessive Compulsive Anxiety Disorder

I've been making some personal observations on the effect of increased stress on a person with obsessive compulsive anxiety disorder lately. The subject of my observation is a man I work with who I noticed early on shows signs of OCD.

He seems obsessed with keeping our work area neat as a pin and sanitized and compulsively picks things up and puts them away. Like if I leave a pen on a table, it's not there when I come back to pick it up - he's put it away with all the junky, cheap pens we have all over the facility. When we first start our shift, he grabs a bottle of cleaner and a towel and goes to work cleaning all the work surfaces.


In the last few months this has gotten obviously worse and now I understand why: A few months ago he and his girlfriend (who also works in the same job but a different shift) started shopping for a house together, bought one and THEN became engaged.

When a married couple is buying a house, conflict usually surfaces and puts a strain on the relationship. So you can imagine what it would do for two people who have only been dating a few months - and personally, I think it's an insane thing to do. It's like walking into a dark room and locking yourself in, THEN turning on the light to see where you are. Surprise!

So, they move into the house and immediately she shows her territorial tendencies - she doesn't want his "stuff" in the house. He buys a new big screen TV (with his money) and she goes ballistic, saying he should have consulted with her first. NOW he finds out what she's really like, after he's locked himself into that dark room and then switched on the light.

This isn't a relationship blog but I wanted to set the scene for you.

Where Does the OCD Come Into Play?

OCD is a form of anxiety disorder and displays itself as a need to have everything under control. When things are out of the person's control, he or she becomes anxious. We all feel more stressed when our life, work or relationships seem like they're controlling us, not the other way around, and what the OCD sufferer does is tighten up their controls over those things they CAN control. Which, to them means every pen has to be put away, clothes can have no wrinkles and everything MUST be neat and clean.

This is exactly what I've been seeing in my co-worker. He's become more obsessed with compulsively cleaning and tidying up and since he's a supervisor, he's exerting more control over his staff - sometimes to the point of it being detrimental to the team's efficiency.

If I found myself in this man's position, I know I'd be fearing I made a major mistake and wondering how in the world I'm going to get myself out of the fix I put myself in. I'm betting you can probably imagine it, too. The point is, conflict and fear cause stress, stress causes anxiety, and in the case of obsessive compulsive anxiety disorder, anxiety makes it worse.

Want to learn more about Obsessive Compulsive Anxiety Disorder?

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