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A silent epidemic: How OCD is taking heavy toll on Kashmir women

March 30, 2024
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Srinagar: Heeba (name changed) found herself engulfed in a relentless battle with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Her daily routine was haunted by incessant thoughts of cleanliness and orderliness, driving her to repeat tasks endlessly, even to the point of scolding her children out of irrational fears.

“I keep washing hands, utensils, and clothes again and again as I am not satisfied that they are clean. If some work is undone, I get tensed until and unless I complete that work. I took it lightly and thought this was discipline, but then things got worse. I keep cleaning and washing again and again, even if I am ill. I used to scold my children harshly if they come from outside, thinking there is dirt on them even if they have washed themselves,” said the 33-year-old woman.

Heeba’s obsession began to take a toll on her married life, with her husband noticing the detrimental impact on their family dynamics. “First, I thought that this was her way, but when I started to notice that her way of doing things is wrong and her way of scolding children is wrong, we fought over it. I noticed that her getting tensed over minute things is not normal, so I decided for her to consult the psychiatrist,” said her husband.

Upon seeking professional help, Heeba was diagnosed with OCD, a revelation that brought forth a flood of emotions. “Heeba was very stressed out when she came here for treatment. While explaining her symptoms, she broke down into tears. After listening to her symptoms, I diagnosed her with OCD and put her on medications and follow-ups for counseling,” said her doctor.

Obsession Compulsion disorder (OCD) features a pattern of unwanted thoughts and fears known as obsessions. These obsessions lead you to do repetitive behaviors, also called compulsions. These obsessions and compulsions disrupt daily activities and cause significant distress, driving individuals to engage in compulsive acts in an attempt to alleviate their anxiety.

In 2022, a study conducted by the Department of Psychiatry at SKIMS Medical College Bemina, Srinagar, revealed that the majority of OCD patients were predominantly females, comprising 61.62% compared to 38.37% males. Additionally, the study highlighted that a majority of participants hailed from rural areas, accounting for 69.76%, as opposed to the urban population at 30.23%.

Speaking to The Kashmir Monitor Dr. Abrar, Consultant psychiatrist at IMHANS emphasized the importance of early intervention in treating OCD. “If the treatment for OCD is taken at an early stage, it can be treated with counseling, while if it’s ignored for a long time, then it’s difficult to treat, and we have to diagnose the patient with medications,” he said.

He stressed the role of awareness among those surrounding the patient, as they may be the first to notice symptoms and prompt seeking professional help.

 “A patient doesn’t always notice the OCD in him or her but the people he or she is surrounded by does. They need to be aware the patient of the symptoms so that the patient can take the treatment as soon as possible to avoid long-term problems,” he said.

Dr. Abrar said that at least five to six patients with OCD report to OPD daily and most of them are females.

According to medical experts, patients with OCD experience various obsessions, including cleaning, a need for symmetry, pathological doubts, and blasphemous thoughts.

“Normal thoughts and obsessions can be differentiated as obsessions are intrusive, which keep coming and lead to distress until and unless the act is acted upon. So, if a person is experiencing intrusive thoughts, they should seek consultation with a doctor as soon as possible. If these symptoms are taken lightly, it can disrupt the social life of a person and affect their quality of life, as the patient may find it difficult to adjust anywhere,” he said.

Dr. Sheikh Shoib, Consultant Psychiatrist in Srinagar told The Kashmir Monitor that early intervention in OCD is crucial to prevent worsening symptoms and complications.

“There may be less awareness of OCD in Kashmir, as in many other regions. Awareness measures such as community education programs, workshops for healthcare professionals, and media campaigns can help increase understanding and reduce stigma surrounding mental health issues,” he said.

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Avatar of Minzah Mehraj

Minzah Mehraj

Minzah Mehraj is a journalist based in Srinagar, Kashmir, and has covered health, education, business, and culture stories over the past 3 years. She holds a Masters and Honours Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication.

1 Comment

  1. I have been suffering from this since last one year and i just got to know about it..Thankyou Minza Mehraj for working on those projects which a huge audience finds useful and informative.

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