JUNO COUNSELING AND WELLNESS

Understanding Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Understanding Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

By Vanessa Gonzalez

Are you someone who over organizes or cleans? Maybe you’ve described yourself as “OCD.” “OCD” or obsessive-compulsive disorder is described as frequent unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and repetitive behaviors (compulsions). Although these may be symptoms of OCD, actual OCD is a lot more complicated than being tidy. OCD can be very distressing and cause a lot of anxiety that is often intrusive and interfered with the daily living of those with an official diagnosis.

The thoughts, or obsessions, are very invasive and can lead to a vicious cycle that can be very difficult to break. The obsessions can wildly vary, with some common ones being fear of germs and perfectionistic thinking. These behaviors are challenging to stop for someone with OCD and can be unavoidable.

What is OCD?

To be diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, you must have obsessions. Obsessions are ruminative and intrusive thoughts circling a specific idea. These obsessive thoughts can cause anxiety and dominate someone’s thoughts for at least an hour each day, but most people with OCD report the thoughts are present for most of the day.

You may also have compulsions; however, they are not required to have a diagnosis. Compulsions can be described as the behaviors to stop the obsessive thoughts. For example, if someone obsesses over germs, they may do a compulsive behavior or constantly wash their hands to fight the germs. However, sometimes the behaviors are not connected to one’s obsessions. For example, they repeatedly touch the same object before leaving a room.

Types of OCD

  1. Cleaning and Contamination – usually driven by fear of germs or dirt – things that can make someone sick. Usually, this individual will:
    • Constantly feel dirty or avoid anything that may contaminate them
    • Feel compelled to get rid of “dirty” things even when it isn’t
    • Wash hands and scrub face a certain number of times a day
    • Ask others to check if you’re contaminated
  1. Symmetry and putting things in order – it’s not just putting things in a proper place or being neat. It’s driven by a fear that things lack symmetry. For example, the individual might:
    • Feel the need to arrange things until it’s “just right.”
    • Feel uncomfortable when things are symmetrical
    • Counting to a specific number a certain number of times
    • Have specific ways of organizing
    • Will believe that something bad will happen if things aren’t the way they are supposed to be
    • Behaviors are also meant to be symmetrical – if the left hand is washed, the right hands also need to be
  1. Forbidden Thoughts – We all get thoughts that pass through our minds that may be offensive or graphic. However, those with OCD cannot control those thoughts and develop shame and anxiety. Some examples are:
    • Frequent unwanted thoughts that may be violent or sexual
    • Worrying that one will act intrusive thoughts
    • Feeling thoughts make you an inherently bad person
    • An urge to hide things you could use as a weapon
    • Using mental rituals and behaviors to get rid of thoughts.
  1. Hoarding – Hoarding is when someone feels the need to keep specific items, which can disrupt their daily living. They may find themselves:
    • Needing to buy a lot of the same item
    • Feeling the need to check or review your possessions
    • Constantly worrying that throwing something away could bring harm to you or someone else
    • Feeling anxious or incomplete if you can’t find the item

OCD can also develop with other mental health disorders other than anxiety, such as depression and eating disorders. If you are concerned that you may be struggling with obsessive-compulsive disorder, it’s important to talk to a medical professional about your symptoms. Since OCD has a lot of similarities with other disorders, it’s important to seek out help from a professional to find the treatment right for you.

OCD is typically treated with a combination of therapy and medication. Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) is a specific type of therapy to expose a person to the trigger while lessening the OCD response. Also, relaxation techniques can help reduce anxiety, such as yoga and meditation. With the proper treatment, the symptoms of OCD can become more manageable, which can overall improve your well-being.

We treat Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in Jupiter and Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Find an OCD therapist near me.

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