anxiety, empowerment, health, mental health

OCD and the Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale

I have felt for a while that I have some OCD issues. My perception has been that my symptoms coincide with times of extreme anxiety. The compulsive behaviors come and go based on what is going on in my life and what is happening during the day.

Prior to taking the test, I was not conscious of any symptoms that continued throughout the day or ones that occurred on a daily basis.

For those of you that are unfamiliar with OCD, it is an anxiety disorder in which certain unwanted thoughts intrude upon your brain in a way that the person has little or no control over.

In addition to the intrusive worries and fearful thoughts, there are coinciding behaviors (compulsions) that the person has a strong need to do. These compulsions are related to an effort to relieve the fears and anxieties caused by the overpowering, panicky, obsessive thoughts.

So there are two parts of the disorder which are obsessive, intrusive thoughts and compulsive, unusual behaviors. I say unusual based on the scale of what the “normal” people would think was usual.

To an OCD sufferer these behaviors may seem normal or they may have done them so many times that they become unsure of what “normal” is.

I put the word “normal” in quotes because I have my own personal beliefs about “normal” being a perception that exists within the particular paradigm of individuals and can be a mass, mutually agreed-upon, reality created by the masses. But that is a blog for another day.

Some examples of OCD symptoms can be Obsessive hand washing, excessive cleaning or excessive checking ( like checking 5 times that the curling iron is unplugged, including going all the way to the car and coming all the way back up the steps to check one more time, every day).

OCD compulsions are time consuming and invade our lives at critical times. The result can be lateness to work or for appointments, which can cause problems in our work and social lives.

It may also cause the OCD sufferer to lie as a habit. After all, “My car would not start,” is a more acceptable excuse than the fact that you walked back into the house five times to make sure the water was shut off.

Often people with OCD are aware of the obsessive thoughts being “too-much”, exaggerated or out of the ordinary. They are also probably aware of at least some of the compulsions to the point where they feel they have become somewhat disabled by them.

I did some research late last night about OCD and I discovered the Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale. I took the online version of the test. There are 10 questions in which the test-taker rates the level of severity and level the behavior interferes with daily life. There are 5 questions relating to Obsessive thoughts and 5 questions relating to Compulsive behaviors.

I was surprised that I rated a 32 out of 40 on the scale. This put me in the small group of extremely symptomatic OCD sufferers. In the online poll which was taken by people who have OCD symptoms, the results were put into 5 categories.

The categories are ordered in a list of increasingly more severe symptoms.

The categories are very mild ( 0-7 points) , mild (7-15 points) , moderate (16-23 points), Severe (24-31 points) and extreme (32-40 points).

Out of 2,578 poll takers, the highest number of people (1,029) came out as having moderate OCD. That is 39.9 % of the total.

I have placed a summary of the chart below.

Little or No Symptoms 95 people
Mild symptoms 580 people
Moderate symptoms 1,029 people
Severe Symptoms 732 people
Extreme Symptoms 142 peple

The site I got this information from is psychology-tools.com

So, I am thinking that in light of this new information that I will do some more research on OCD symptoms and management tools. But what would be even better is to come up with some coping skills of our own. I am probably not the only person that discounted many of my feelings and behaviors.

Maybe it will be helpful for myself and those of you with OCD to try to get a better picture of ourselves. This is not to diminish us but perhaps to give ourselves some validation and some pats on the back for the way we are able to survive in spite of this issue.

People who do not suffer from any mental disorder do not understand the difficulty with which we get though the simple tasks and situations. People have methods and skills for dealing with their day that are difficult or impossible for us to access.

Even the simplest tasks can be extremely difficult or even impossible for OCD sufferers to accomplish. Others may interpret this as procrastination , laziness or irresponsibility.

So I will try to address some of these issues and together we will find a way to live our lives with greater ease and not feel so handicapped compared to other people.

Let’s come up with some new ideas, holistic methods, combination methods and other ideas to help ourselves. Give me your experiences and suggestions in the comments below.

Who knows what we can come up with by combining our spiritual and intellectual energies together!

Annie