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How OCD Affects Time Management

—Aurora, IL

ocd, serotonin, cognitive behavioral therapy, mental health, procrastination, time management, glutamate, dermatillomania, prefrontal cortex, perfectionism, obsessive compulsive, exposure and response prevention, habit reversal therapy
OCD can create lots of unwanted thoughts in your head, which can easily distract you from your tasks.

Imagine being trapped in a dark room with a monster that controls you subconsciously. Imagine the hopelessness seeping into you as the monster takes over. This is how many people diagnosed with OCD feel, as their condition makes them feel trapped. Obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD) are a group of common mental health disorders affecting millions of people worldwide. OCD can be characterized by intrusive and persistent thoughts that lead to repetitive and ritualistic behaviors, or compulsions, represented by the monster in the example above. These compulsions are often carried out to mitigate a perceived consequence, which is often a figment of the person’s mind. OCD can affect people in different ways, including diminishing one’s focus by subconsciously moving that focus to something else, negatively affecting your productivity. Severe forms of OCD can be debilitating and interfere with one’s daily functioning, especially one’s time management. Time management is a very important skill for all aspects of life, and when OCD affects it, your life can be uprooted in many ways.



ocd, serotonin, cognitive behavioral therapy, mental health, procrastination, time management, glutamate, dermatillomania, prefrontal cortex, perfectionism, obsessive compulsive, exposure and response prevention, habit reversal therapy
OCD can occur when the CSTC circuits shown above malfunction.

Obsessive-compulsive disorders are believed to originate from a combination of environmental, genetic, and neurobiological factors. Studies using brain and lesion imaging have shown that the “prefrontal cortex (orbitofrontal and anterior cingulate cortices), basal ganglia, and thalamus” (Huey E.D. et al., 2008) are major areas in which OCD can manifest and create changes. In addition to neurobiological factors, genes such as those found in the serotonin and glutamate systems also affect the genesis of OCD. Specifically, serotonin-related polymorphisms (polymorphism = presence of two copies of a DNA sequence variant near each other) have exhibited significant trends with respect to the presence of OCD. Finally, OCD can be influenced by environmental factors, such as stressful life events and childhood trauma. Overall, there are multiple causes of OCD, and unfortunately it can be difficult to predict exactly which cause affects a particular individual.


OCD is one of the main causes of poor time management. For example, individuals with OCD can engage in compulsive behaviors that they do not have conscious control over. Their compulsive behaviors can become extremely time-consuming, leading them to not have time for school, homework, work, or social interactions. A common impulsive behavior an OCD patient could have is spending hours of their day washing their hands, which would limit the time that they have for other tasks. OCD could also create intrusive thoughts and obsessions in the individual’s mind, making them lose focus. One of the largest ways that OCD disorients one’s time management is by striving for perfectionism. Even on assignments that don’t need a particular level of detail, people with OCD may want to be perfect and edit even the smallest things, which can take up lots of unwanted time.


ocd, serotonin, cognitive behavioral therapy, mental health, procrastination, time management, glutamate, dermatillomania, prefrontal cortex, perfectionism, obsessive compulsive, exposure and response prevention, habit reversal therapy
People with severe forms of OCD may feel subconsciously compelled to alter anything that isn't perfect in their eyes.

One subset of OCD is dermatillomania, a condition where someone continuously picks their skin, even when it is causing them harm. Individuals with dermatillomania may pick at their skin for extended periods of time and cannot stop themselves, leading to less time for the tasks they originally intended to complete as well as deteriorated skin health. Overall, severe cases of OCD can lead to procrastination or missed deadlines due to poor time management.



ocd, serotonin, cognitive behavioral therapy, mental health, procrastination, time management, glutamate, dermatillomania, prefrontal cortex, perfectionism, obsessive compulsive, exposure and response prevention, habit reversal therapy
CBT makes you more aware of your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

Despite the negative aspects, there are ways to treat all three of the issues discussed in this article: OCD, dermatillomania, and poor time management. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a popular and effective treatment for OCD and it changes the individual’s thought processes and behaviors that contribute to the source of the disorder itself. One specific type of CBT, known as exposure and response prevention (ERP), gradually exposes the individual to the event or situation that triggers their compulsive behaviors while not allowing them to partake in those behaviors. As for dermatillomania, similar tactics can be used, along with other therapies such as habit reversal therapy, which can help you “become more aware of your behaviors and activity patterns” (Cleveland Clinic, 2022). Bad time management can be treated through largely non-medical procedures, such as creating a schedule or calendar through which one can plan out all of their tasks. Additionally, one can set timers or alarms in order to externally motivate themselves to finish tasks faster. In conclusion, OCD (and all of its subsets) and time management are huge problems in our society with various different causes, but they are treatable and should be paid attention.



References

Cleveland Clinic. (2022, April 11). Dermatillomania (Skin Picking): Symptoms & Treatment.

Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved April 27, 2023, from

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/22706-dermatillomania-skin-picking

Huey, E. D., Zahn, R., Krueger, F., Moll, J., Kapogiannis, D., Wassermann, E. M., & Grafman, J.

(2008). A psychological and neuroanatomical model of obsessive-compulsive disorder.

The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, 20(4), 390–408.

https://doi.org/10.1176/jnp.2008.20.4.390

Taylor, S. (2011). "Molecular genetics of obsessive-compulsive disorder: a comprehensive

meta-analysis of genetic association studies". Molecular Psychiatry, 16(9), 799-805. doi:

10.1038/mp.2010.54

Learn more about diseases and disorders through STEME's other publications!
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