Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) features a pattern of unwanted thoughts and fears (obsessions) that lead you to do repetitive behaviors (compulsions). These obsessions and compulsions interfere with daily activities and cause significant distress.
You may try to ignore or stop your obsessions, but that only increases your distress and anxiety. Ultimately, you feel driven to perform compulsive acts to try to ease your stress. Despite efforts to ignore or get rid of bothersome thoughts or urges, they keep coming back. This leads to more ritualistic behavior — the vicious cycle of OCD.
OCD often centers around certain themes — for example, an excessive fear of getting contaminated by germs. To ease your contamination fears, you may compulsively wash your hands until they’re sore and chapped.
If you have OCD, you may be ashamed and embarrassed about the condition, but OCD treatment can be effective.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder usually includes both obsessions and compulsions. But it’s also possible to have only obsession symptoms or only compulsion symptoms. You may or may not realize that your obsessions and compulsions are excessive or unreasonable, but they take up a great deal of time and interfere with your daily routine and social, school or work functioning.
OCD obsessions are repeated, persistent and unwanted thoughts, urges or images that are intrusive and cause distress or anxiety. You might try to ignore them or get rid of them by performing a compulsive behavior or ritual. These obsessions typically intrude when you’re trying to think of or do other things.
Obsessions often have themes to them, such as:
Examples of obsession signs and symptoms include:
OCD compulsions are repetitive behaviors that you feel driven to perform. These repetitive behaviors or mental acts are meant to reduce anxiety related to your obsessions or prevent something bad from happening. However, engaging in the compulsions brings no pleasure and may offer only a temporary relief from anxiety.
You may make up rules or rituals to follow that help control your anxiety when you’re having obsessive thoughts. These compulsions are excessive and often are not realistically related to the problem they’re intended to fix.
As with obsessions, compulsions typically have themes, such as:
Examples of compulsion signs and symptoms include:
Different types of OCD usually begins in the teen or young adult years, but it can start in childhood. Symptoms usually begin gradually and tend to vary in severity throughout life. The types of obsessions and compulsions you experience can also change over time. Symptoms generally worsen when you experience greater stress. OCD, usually considered a lifelong disorder, can have mild to moderate symptoms or be so severe and time-consuming that it becomes disabling.
When to see a OCD therapist
There’s a difference between being a perfectionist — someone who requires flawless results or performance, for example — and having OCD. OCD thoughts aren’t simply excessive worries about real problems in your life or liking to have things clean or arranged in a specific way.
If your obsessions and compulsions are affecting your quality of life, it may be time to find help. We understand that looking for a therapist that specializes in OCD can be overwhelming. We can Help! Take the first step and contact us for a free consultation.
Source: Mayo Clinic
The exact cause of OCD isn’t known. It’s likely a combination of genetic, neurobiological, behavioral, cognitive, and environmental factors. Some people may have a predisposition towards developing OCD, which is then triggered by a stressful life event.
OCD is typically treated with a combination of medication and cognitive behavioral therapy, specifically a technique called Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). In severe cases, other treatment options may be explored, such as intensive outpatient and residential programs or even neurosurgery for mental illness.
Overcoming OCD usually involves cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), specifically exposure and response prevention (ERP), and sometimes medication. This process involves gradually facing feared thoughts and situations while refraining from engaging in compulsions. Self-care practices like regular exercise, a healthy diet, adequate sleep, and stress management can also be beneficial. It’s crucial to work with a mental health professional to develop an effective treatment plan.