Unfortunately, “OCD” has become a catch-all phrase for any behaviors that are particularly neurotic or pattern-oriented, and that makes it seem like less of a disorder than it really is. In reality, living with OCD can be terrifying and extremely difficult, even debilitating.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a kind of anxiety disorder characterized by very specific obsessions and behaviors (compulsions). The obsessions are recurrent or persistent thoughts that cause the sufferer mental and sometimes emotional anguish. Obsessions cause distressing emotions such as disgust or anxiety, and often involve thoughts of behaviors deemed immoral or wrong, fear of harm or contamination, or a need for symmetry or exactness. Despite the fact that these thoughts are not logical and are painfully intrusive, the person having these thoughts cannot shut them off or down, or rationalize them.
The compulsions may include any or all of the following:
- Counting to make sure something is done the “right” number of times
- Cleaning excessively and repeatedly due to the obsession with germs or contamination
- Repeating things to dispel anxiety, such as a name or place. People suffering from OCD often know logically that this doesn’t actually help them, but they are so compelled to that they do it anyway.
- Checking to make sure doors are locked, ovens are turned off, items are unplugged, shades are drawn, etc. Checking often becomes such an intensely necessary and time-consuming part of the day that people who do suffer from OCD cannot function normally, and may not even be able to leave their homes.
- Ordering and arranging items, lists, household objects. Everything must be “just so “ or they cannot experience any relief.
- Mental compulsions such as repeating prayers or phrases to try to reduce their anxiety or as a preventative measure against future bad events.
They may also include other anxiety-driven behaviors.
Do I Have OCD?
Many people practice counting, repeating, and checking behaviors. It’s part of what makes us human: we want to make sure we can be at ease with what we have done, or are leaving behind for a period of time. Does that mean we all suffer from OCD?
Not at all. OCD patients are characterized by the debilitating state of their conditions. People with OCD don’t just wash their hands a lot, they wash their hands so much that they cannot stop washing them. They don’t just check the door locks once or twice to make sure it’s in place, they ritualistically ensure all of the tumblers are properly lined up and catching 37 times in a row. If at any point the lock doesn’t perform the way it is expected to, the OCD patient will start all over again. The obsessions and compulsions are beyond maddening; they keep that person from living their lives.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is diagnosed by observing the following:
- At least 1 hour a day is spent on the thoughts or behaviors
- No pleasure is found in performing rituals, but temporary, brief relief may be felt
- Lack of control over the obsessive thoughts and/or compulsive behaviors, even though they are often able to recognize that those thoughts and behaviors are excessive
- Significant problems in daily life due to the obsessions and compulsions
As you may no doubt understand, the major difference between the real OCD patient and the person who jokes that their neuroses is OCD is the severity of the thoughts and behaviors therein. If you’re washing your hands twice within five minutes, you’re (probably) not OCD. At least, not by that metric. If you have to wash your hands 17 times before you can exit the bathroom, you may have an issue with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
Another common sign of OCD is a tic disorder. Motor tics can be present in blinking or other eye movements, or grimacing, shoulder shrugging, and jerking of the head and shoulder. Vocal tics, including repetitive throat-clearing, sniffling, grunting or other sounds may also be present. Tics are often present in OCD patients.
If left untreated, OCD can interfere in all aspects of life. Fortunately, OCD generally responds well to treatment. With therapy and medication, OCD is often manageable, and patients find that they can often retake control of their lives.
Sometimes, symptoms of OCD will even come and go. Unfortunately, if untreated, the likelihood that your condition will remain dormant is unknown. Treatment remains the best option to manage OCD.
Blair Wellness Group
At Blair Wellness Group we know how difficult living with OCD can be. Please contact us today so that we can set up an appointment for you to meet with Dr. Blair. We know that you don’t want to keep living the same way that you have, and our concierge-style services are tailored to fit your individual needs and your particular condition. Research has shown that OCD responds well to treatment in many cases.
You don’t need to live within the parameters your condition is trying to inflict upon you. You deserve to enjoy life and all of its wonderful qualities. Contact Blair Wellness Group today and we’ll help you take your life back.
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