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Signs of Obsessive –Compulsive Disorder


To those of us who are familiar with TV’s Sheldon Cooper from “The Big Bang Theory”, his quirks-The way he is so finicky about germs that he cannot sit in a bus at a place where someone else has sat before him, and the way he has to chant Penny’s name exactly thrice before she must open the door- seem very funny. These give him a unique but peculiar personality of a successful though obsessed physicist.

Obsessive –Compulsive DisorderWhat Sheldon exhibits is a case of OCD though not all scientists have it! Millions of people the world over suffer from OCD, including around 1% of U.S. and 1.2% of UK population.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or OCD, as it is commonly called, is medically diagnosed through a common thought and behavioural pattern among patients. Making it a ritual to re-check the door locks before turning in for the night does not point towards OCD, but if you keep on bolting and unbolting to check, and yet feel anxious about it, you might want to see a mental health practitioner.

1. Repetitive hand washing is one of the most common and most recognizable symptoms of OCD. Normally, we would wash our hands as per need, check the lights and gas before leaving house, but we would not dwell repeatedly over such trivial issues.

2. Obsessing over persistent unwanted thoughts to the extent that it begins to hamper normal thought processes points to OCD. Thoughts of being harmed, dwelling obsessively over relationship issues, avoiding certain places due to unwarranted etc. arise out of a fear of harming self or others unintentionally.

3. Undue obsession with cleanliness is one of the sure shot signs for recognising OCD. Such individuals spend hours cleaning and get excessively distressed over matters such as keeping things in an exact order and checking on it repeatedly.

4. Shoplifting (though you can easily afford the item) or hoarding things, not being able to give away unnecessary items from home and office.

5. Obsessively fixating over your looks or a certain part of your body.

6. Repeating words to one’s self in the mind even after a conversation is over.

7. Playing some feared scenario and its results over and over in the mind. (Also thinking of ways to prevent a possible harm that might be caused by you.)

8. Counting out of context, for example taking a certain number of steps to reach a place repetitively.

9. Fussing over the exactness of appearance and order.

10. Asking friends and family for repeated assurances about you appearance, house, or behaviour at an event.

The obsessive thoughts lead to compulsive repetitive behaviour, after which the individual might feel relief for some time, before the cycle begins all over again.

Though these quirks might appear funny to some, but when the behaviour hampers daily activities and starts taking more than an hour of your time daily, a specialist must be considered.


Memory lapses- when do you need to consult a specialist


It doesn’t feel very nice to forget a loved one’s birthday, and be chided by them for it, does it? Or to forget key points of a conversation while recalling it at a later date?

Memory lapses- when do you need to consult a specialist
These are scenarios that we have all faced at some or the other times, as normal memory lapses become a part of our grown-up lives.

Our brain cells are the strongest, and memory the sharpest during childhood. After the age of 25, the Hippocampus (the portion of brain responsible for memory) loses 5% of nerve cells every 10 years!

Often people mistake serious memory disorders like Alzheimer’s and Dementia for normal memory losses, and do nothing about it until it’s very late. Conversely, we might also get unnecessarily worried, and assume everyday memory lapses to be some sort of a disorder.

Certain incidents of memory lapses are age related, and happen to everyone,while certain others might have treatable underlying conditions, such as depression, lack of vitamin B12, stress, inadequate sleep etc.

What, then, is the distinction between forgetfulness that requires medical attention and the one that doesn’t? Following points might help to differentiate the two-

Normal forgetfulness-
1. When you are talking and you suddenly stop for want of a word that is on the tip of your tongue but you just can’t remember it.
2. Transient memory, which means you are not able to remember what you ate or did a week back or a month back. This is also called the “use it or lose it “feature of memory. When you return from a dinner at a restaurant, and recall the evening the very next day, it will come back to you more easily than when you recall it a week later.
3. Reduction in the ability to multi-task with growing age.
4. Misplacing things once in a while or forgetting routes to less frequently-visited places- which actually happens due to lack of attention.
5. Forgetting names of people you’ve just met.
6. Remembering part of an event correctly while misplacing part of the details, like you may remember something your friend told you, but might forget where and when she said it to you.

When you need to take forgetfulness seriously-
1. Forgetting everyday routes( like the way to home from office), names of people you meet every day, ways to perform everyday tasks like fixing the bulb, shopping or cooking. These might be symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
2. When your memory interferes in your daily activities.
3. Having trouble holding conversations because you keep forgetting what to say, or what word to use.
4. Losing track of time, like the time of the day or forgetting what year it is, are symptoms of Dementia.
5. Losing belongings regularly because of having misplaced them at unusual places.
6. Having trouble thinking clearly and recalling recent memories most of the time.

Proper rest and nutrition will fix most of the normal forgetfulness, but if you see the serious signs, it would be wise to consult the specialist.

How stressed are you?

There are lots of things to do in a day, and never enough time. When we have more to do than we can handle, we feel overwhelmed – physically, mentally as well as emotionally stressed.

How stressed are you?There is no particular benchmark for exactly when and how much a person is stressed. Sometimes, it just might be exhaustion, and some rest and a break is all you might need to get back on track.

A bit of stress is actually good, as most of us are able to put in our best when we feel motivated due to stress. However, being highly stressed out over long periods of time affects us negatively.

Look at the following questions to evaluate your stress levels. . These, however, are not a substitute for a trained psychiatrist, whom you might need to visit in such a case.

1. Are you less interested in your work, relationships and physical wellbeing than you used to be?
2. Do you feel detached from your surroundings, not interested in the happenings around you?
3. Do you feel constantly irritated and less patient with your spouse, children or people in general?
4. Do you increasingly feel reluctant to get back to your duties after a break, wish to shirk responsibilities as you feel you are lagging behind and can never be up to the mark?
5. Do you feel trapped by circumstances, as if you have no control over what is happening in your life?
6. When friends and family try to help you with suggestions, do you turn negative, give excuses, and create a general aura that you have tried everything but nothing helps you?
7. Do you dislike being at gatherings?
8. Are you losing your sense of humour, are no longer able to laugh at things you used to find funny earlier?
9. Do you feel fatigued most of the time but still have trouble going to sleep?
10. Do you feel sick and nauseous even when you are not particularly ill?
11. Do you feel constantly hungry, or not hungry at all – have your eating habits become irregular?
12. Have you begun relying on others for the little decisions you used to make yourself, as you don’t feel confident enough?
13. Do you take on a lot of tasks, but are unable to finish any of it as you lose focus easily?
14. Do you smoke regularly, and consume 5 or more drinks of alcohol a week?
15. Have you almost stopped going out to just have fun?
16. Do you feel unduly hyper and irritated when you have to wait for your turn, or are stuck in traffic?

If your answer to most of these questions is yes, you are definitely stressed out. A balanced diet, exercising at least 4 times a week, limiting caffeine intake, and spending quality time with friends and family can help you lower your stress levels and maintain calm to a great extent.

7 tips to beat insomnia


What was a term limited to mostly the busiest and most stressed people is now a common occurrence for about 65% of the world’s population? Insomnia affects people of all ages, gender, social status and culture.

Insomniacs are not people who can’t sleep at all. Rather, they either can’t fall asleep at night on time, or if they do, they wake up midway and keep awake the rest of the night, which means their day begins with tiredness, and they keep dozing off at odd times during the day. Without the mandatory 8 hours of sleep, a person becomes less productive and more prone to diabetes, cancer and heart troubles.

8 tips to beat insomnia
If an individual suffers from chronic insomnia, it is wise to seek a mental health professional’s advice. a few simple changes to lifestyle can help you get better sleep.
1. Eating habits: What you consume goes a long way in helping your mind and body to relax. Caffeine- in tea, coffee and chocolates, is one of the biggest culprits of insomnia, as is alcohol. These interfere with the REM state of sleep cycle. These should not be had at least 4-6 hours before bedtime. Instead, have foods with omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, or chamomile tea that contain sleep inducing nutrients such as DHA and apigenin respectively. Eating fruits such as apples and kiwi induces sleep faster as they promote production of the relaxing hormone serotonin.
2. Rest your neck and back: Take care to align your neck and lower back in comfortable positions while sleeping. Sleep on a soft pillow that’s not too high, and place a pillow between your legs to ease your lower back while you rest.
3. Remove distractions: It is common advice but one which is mostly ignored. One must turn off TV, laptops, cell phones at least an hour before bedtime. The blue light that these screens emit induces wakefulness.
4. A relaxing bedroom: Keep your bedroom quiet, dark and comfortable. It is a good option to have your sleeping place bathed in orange light that is supposed to induce sleepiness, and is soothing. According to Forbes, 65degrees F is the ideal comfortable temperature for sleep.
5. Have busy evenings: Resist the urge to nap in the evening. instead, go out take a walk if you feel fatigued. Avoid heavy exercises during evenings. You will be able to fall asleep earlier at night and wake up on time. When done regularly, this forms a natural rhythm for the body over time and the body automatically knows when to switch off and go into sleep mode.
6. Bedtime routine: A regular bedtime routine has been found to be one of the best ways to get over insomnia. it induces your mind into sleeping better. Have a routine that relaxes you at the same time every night. Take a warm shower, listen to some relaxing music or do light yoga stretches, or read a relaxing book (no thrillers).
7. Don’t try too hard: Skip thinking about how you would go about your day tomorrow if you don’t sleep well. Write down your tasks if you feel constantly worried. This will take the load off your mind.


10 tips to boost your memory


Doubtlessly, as you grow older, you regularly lose a few of the brain’s hippocampal cells. You halt between conversations, misplace things; forget names- even when you might be young.
When we move mechanically through life our memories begin to stagnate in our brains and are eventually lost. The good news is that the brain can be trained to remember better.

Following tips boost memory and brain power-

10 tips to boost your memory
1. Time to memorize
Researchers believe that if you learn the details of an important presentation or notes for an exam at night, you will be able to recall them better. Memories get consolidated at night because lesser information would overlap it. Taking a short nap just after memorizing something has the same effect. Einstein used to take multiple short naps throughout the day.

2. Eye movement
Brain is divided into left and right halves, both of which perform separate functions. Coordination between both the halves strengthens cognitive function. You can achieve this by simply wiggling your eyeballs from left to right and vice versa for 30 seconds each day.

3. Verbal boost
While you don’t need to remember all your schedules mentally in this era of smartphones, give your brains a little exercise .Connect routines, speak them loudly- such as, “my keys are near the fridge. Before I pick them, I ‘ll grab a fruit.”

4. Languages and learning
There are fewer instances of dementia in people who know two or more languages. Learning a new language is one of the most effective ways to sharpen memory and build new brain cells.
Same applies to learning a new hobby or skill such as dance or an instrument.

5. Exercise
Solving crosswords and puzzles, and interaction with people of different cultures are exercises for the brain. Besides, include at least 30 minutes of physical exercise thrice a week in your regimen to improve the brain’s recall capacity.

6. Food
As with our body, our mind too needs nutrition to stay fit. Cut back on smoking, alcohol, and caffeine, instead-

  • Have 5-6 portions of dairy products a week.
  • Oily fish and nuts (rich in omega 3 fatty acids) are the most recognised foods that boost neuron formation, learning and memory.
  • Soya improves building of new nerve connections.
  • Zinc improves IQ.
  • Iron and vitamin B improve oxygen circulation to the brain.
  • Green tea and dark chocolate improve brain function.

7. Relaxation
Sleep 7-8 hours a day; keep your mind stress-free through meditation and exercise. Add a few drops of sage or rosemary oil to your bath. These enhance attention span and alleviate mood.

8. Mnemonics
Mnemonics are aids that help to remember better. When you associate facts with mental or visual images or acronyms, you are able to keep them in memory for longer and recall them better.

9. Activities
Squeezing stress balls, clenching and unclenching the fist, and chewing gum is believed to improve focus and thus recall facts easily.

10. Be mindful
Focus on the task or information at hand with all your concentration, rather than just racing through your day.

Workplace and emotional conflict

The place where an individual is fruitfully occupied and earns his living is indeed his workplace. At the workplace, which might be the office, the laboratory, the corporate house, the coffee shop or even the construction site, employees as well as employers face a variety of different kinds of issues day in and day out.

 emotional conflict?
What is emotional conflict?
Everyday dealings, workplace rules, nature of work and interaction with colleagues, customers, and management can all bring about a host of emotions in a person. It is very common for employees to experience emotional conflict at their workplace. Just as a conflict is a situation in which two parties with differing viewpoints are involved, similarly emotional conflict is an intrapersonal situation within an individual during which he feels torn between two or more largely opposing emotions.
For example, during the course of his work, a person might need to take some decisions that go against his values. While this gives him profit at work, it would make him feel a sense of guilt too. Such situations would result in a conflict of emotions- happiness versus doubt and guilt. this has led to the term “working wounded “for employees under such kinds of work situations.
Causes of emotional conflict at work
Emotions run high at workplaces, and it is important to manage these emotions for the wellbeing of employees that in turn leads to the wellbeing of the organization. Following scenarios cause emotional conflict at workplaces:
1. Unfulfilled expectations: When the employee feels under-utilized, sees little or no growth opportunities, does not enjoy his work, or feels that he has to sacrifice his values top sustain his job, he feels demotivated and in a state of conflict with his emotions.
2. Rigid workplace policies: An employee might want the company to move towards newer horizons, contributing substantially towards the society as well, whereas the company would prefer sticking to its original vision and policies.
3. Mismanagement: Miscommunication among employees and leadership causes emotional conflicts the most. When workers’ demands are not met, rewards and compensation are not duly given, managers impose unrealistic demands and do not communicate issues properly, it causes a great deal of depression and anxiety among employees and leads to reduced productivity.
Role of workplace in resolving conflicts
If workplace issues remain unresolved, the individual feels restricted at his work. He feels stressed and burned-out. A sense of self-betrayal conflicts with his need for the job to sustain himself. Though it is widely recognised that professional success and emotional conflict go hand in hand, it is in the best interest of the management that they help employees in resolving their workplace emotional conflicts if the company is to function profitably.

1. Leaders should establish an atmosphere of open management and transparency.
2. Equal opportunities must be available to all without biases.
3. Communication is the most important key factor in providing individuals with a sense of reassurance.
4. Companies should not hesitate to avail services of professional advisers and therapists in gaining the trust of employees.


Coping with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD is a manifestation of symptoms that cause distress to a person who has been exposed to life-threatening traumatic events such as accidents, war, sexual assaults, natural disasters or emergency situations like relief-work. These are triggered when the person experiences sound or visuals that remind him of the trauma.

PTSD might gradually fade away over time, or a person might have to live with it forever. PTSD affects work, relationships, moods and life. People resort to unhealthy ways of coping like substance abuse and escapism, if help is not found in time. There is no cure for PTSD but coping styles help to manage symptoms. Coping is the inner psychological mechanism that enables us to control the adverse effects of symptoms.

1. Professional help
The best way to cope is to find a trained therapist to assist you. They can help you through-

  • Medication -anti depressants like fluoxetine, paroxetine, sertraline.
  • Therapy- Cognitive behaviour therapy and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing are common treatments for PTSD. Suppression, Replacement, minimization, mapping, reversal, wishful thinking, approach and avoidance styles are also used. In a study of women exposed to domestic violence, it was found that “survivor’s safety” was a better therapy than “avoidance”.


2. Learning and self-awareness
Family or friends can help by reading up on PTSD and finding useful information. It helps if the person keeps a check on his symptoms, as to by what or when these are triggered.

3. Social support
It’s the biggest help in almost all of mental health problems. Confide in a friend what you feel, even if you might feel awkward sharing your symptoms. It helps to join a support group too where you might meet people in a situation similar to yours.
Loved ones can help by offering a caring and patient ear when it is most needed.
In case of children, be careful to not avoid discussing their feelings, instead help them to see that they are real and can be coped up with.

4. Be active
it’s important to indulge in leisurely activities. Work and hobbies relieve distress. Make time for walks, exercise and sports. It not only keeps the body fit, but also the mind healthy. Breathing exercises and meditation help to focus on the present moment instead of the past or future.

5. Face them
Don’t be scared of your symptoms. It’s okay to cry. When you begin to feel gloomy, share your thoughts with someone you trust, or on a piece of paper. This also helps to keep perspective later on. Distract yourself- take a walk, read, go over to a coffee shop -anything that takes your mind off the stress for the time being.
6. Reduce other stress inducing factors like family fights, school pressures, absence of parents or changing residence.

Remind the patient that you love them, and will always support them -that it will take time but it is possible to live a healthy life with PTSD.

Psychotherapy and mental health

Good and positive mental health is a requisite for leading a fulfilling life. Along with a healthy body, a sound mind is what is needed if one is to achieve his potential in life to the fullest, and yet, the hectic pace of present times has left little scope for the population in general to have overall physical and mental wellbeing. World Health Organization (WHO) surveys reveal that 20% of the world’s children alone suffer from mental disorders. The proportion is higher among adults – 800,000 people are found to commit suicide each year the world over, due to mental disorders and substance abuse.

Psychotherapy and mental health
Psychotherapy and mental health

Why a healthy mind?
It is a general view that physical wellbeing is all that is needed to get through day-to-day activities and lead a prosperous life. A person who is free of diseases and is physically fit would be expected to perform well at his work. That is not, however, always the case. Certain circumstances of life, relationship issues, death of a loved one, emergencies, disasters, trauma, all of this affects minds of healthy individuals. When the daily anxieties and stress build up, the individual gets depressed. Chronic depression makes it a big task for a person to even get through a normal day, and to perform routine activities.
Those suffering from mental health issues can easily fall prey to Diabetes, HIV, cardiovascular disorders and other injuries.
If you or any of your near and dear ones are going through mental health issues, it is okay and actually very important to get professional help. It is more often the stigma associated with depressive and psychological conditions that prevents people from consulting specialists.
Not all mental health problems require treatment by psychiatrists. Emotional issues like depression, anxiety, stress disorders, work-life balance issues, are very effectively addressed by psychology experts called psychotherapists. Psychotherapy is a widely recognized branch of Science, used as a means of helping patients with mental health problems, disorders, and life struggles, through one-on-one interactions. During psychotherapy sessions, an array of psychological techniques is used to aid the client to get over and effectively face his emotions and troubles.
Psychotherapy is equally successful in

  • treating depression, and improving the overall mental health of individuals.
  • As a combination with psychiatric treatment for disorders.
  • For aiding people obtain work-life balance and improve quality of life
  • For resolving relationship problems
  • For training individuals to better control emotions


What happens during psychotherapy sessions?
Session of psychotherapy treatments are conducted either with individuals, or with groups and couples. A trained psychotherapist gains the trust of his clients, and helps them to share details of their troubles through talk, music, drawings or dramatizations. Wide variety of different types of psychoanalytical therapies are used during sessions to get to the root of the clients’ problems. individuals are driven to face their inner troubles with grit. Through therapy sessions the individuals are advised on how to cope with their problems and issues, and build resilience against unwanted emotions in future.

8 things to do at home to combat anxiety

Constant worry over or a nagging fear of the unknown is psychologically termed as anxiety. Small anxieties are experienced by almost everyone during our everyday lives such as nervousness before an important deal, but unnecessary constant worries affect health- cause gastric and respiratory troubles, sleep problems and disturb life.

8 things to do at home to combat anxiety
It is wise to seek the services of a trained psychiatrist to treat the anxiety disorder that you or your loved one might have. However, there are a few things that you can do at home to reduce anxiety-

1. Eat right
What you eat affects your mental health to a great extent. To relieve anxiety, it is perhaps the most important thing that you eat foods that are healthy for your nervous system. To keep anxiety at bay –

  • Include walnuts, fatty fish and flaxseeds in your diet. The omega-3 fatty acids in them reduce levels of stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline.
  • Onions provide potassium which is a boost for the nerves.
  • Have green tea instead of caffeine-containing drinks. Caffeine increases feelings of anxiousness.
  • Eating oats and whole grains regularly increases production of the feel-good hormone serotonin in the body.
  • Have a cup of warm milk blended with almonds at bedtime.

When you feel anxious, have these for instant calming effects:

  • A cup of orange juice mixed with a tsp of honey- calms down the nerves instantly.
  • Dark chocolate – reduces cortisol levels.
  • Chamomile or rosemary tea.
  • A poached egg and avocados.
  • Peaches and blueberries.


2. Relax with a massage
Having a massage with lavender oil or sesame oil reduces blood pressure and relieves anxiety.

3. Soak yourself
Prepare a hot bath with some magnesium sulphate (also called Epsom salt) and soothing oils such as lavender or vanilla essence oil, or alternately, with equal amounts of baking soda and crushed ginger, and soak for a few minutes.

4. Share
When you feel anxious, nothing beats the age-old therapy of taking your feelings out in front of someone you trust. Call up or visit a friend /relative/ loved one and talk. Another alternative is to write out your emotions on a piece of paper that you can tear away later.

5. Calming fragrances
Sit in a dimly lit room filled with calming fragrances that soothe the soul. For this, dab a few drops of lavender essential oil on your wrists, or burn rosemary incense in the room, or inhale the peel of an orange.
6. Exercise
Any form of light or heavy exercise releases endorphins in the system, that makes you feel good and calm. Get up and going- go for a walk, do some light aerobics or head for the gym.

7. Distract yourself
It is a good idea to turn your attention elsewhere when you feel anxiety attacks taking over. Try not to think of negative things, and instead move away from the current anxiety inducing environment. Go out of the house, start listening to some soothing music, or call up a friend.

8. Sleep
Dab a few lavender oil drops on your pillow and take a nap or a good night’s rest.


Depression and everyday life

More people suffer from depression in the 21st century than from other physical health diseases. It is easy to assume depression as benign just mood swings, and to not take it seriously. If not treated wisely and on time, depression can assume troublesome proportions.

Depression and everyday life
Depression is a negative mental health condition that deeply affects the life of the individual suffering from it. It leads to a host of physical and emotional problems in the long run. On an everyday basis, depression affects adversely the life of the sufferer and his friends and family in the following ways:
1. Physical troubles: Chronic depression manifests itself in the form of innumerable health problems such as diarrhoea, breathing troubles, gastric problems, sleep apnoea, physical tiredness.
2. Emotional troubles: The individual suffers from constant mood swings which make it difficult for him and those around him to enjoy even pleasurable moments together. Feelings of hopelessness and futility keep creeping into his mind every now and then. Due to this, he feels gloomy most of the time. Such people get irritated very easily.
3. Social troubles: It is a known fact that depressed people have a limited social life. Getting up, dressing and meeting people seems like a chore to them. They prefer staying by themselves even when in a crowd. The social life suffers. The ones in close relationships too do not feel like making attempts to put efforts into their relationships. Their life begins to centre just around themselves.
4. Work troubles: Depression comes in the way of fruitful work. it doesn’t let the individual concentrate on his task. He is not able to take correct and timely decisions. He is not able to complete the assigned tasks on time. He does not take initiative at work, and is averse to trying new ideas.
5. Personality: a person who would earlier not be caught dead looking dishevelled, now no more pays attention to the way he presents himself when he is depressed. Depression makes him lose interest in shopping for himself and grooming himself. During free time, he would prefer to laze around and stare into nothingness rather than get up and go for some exercise or grooming sessions. He would not even notice if his clothes have become a size too small or big for him.
6. Piling to-do list: A healthy mind reminds a person to keep up-to-date on his responsibilities and important tasks in life. However, when a person is depressed, he forgets to complete routine tasks like paying bills, updating important government documents, filing returns, updating bank statements etc.
7. Messy life and messy home: Depression affects a person’s mind in such a way that he cannot organize his everyday life. His schedules go haywire. A depressed individual’s house gives tell-tale signs of his condition- it would be messy, with disorganized shelves and cabinets, dusty corners, dishevelled beds and dirty kitchens piled up with undone dishes.

The depressed individual himself might not be able to identify these signs and might take it as a normal form of living as time passes. It is up to his friends and family to extend support  in such times.