It is all too common nowadays to hear a trite joke, every now and again, about the perfectionist in your friend group having OCD. But OCD has almost nothing to do with someone being Type-A or a perfectionist. The disorder also bears little relevance for people who are simply particular about the layout of a room or extra careful about germs. Those myths aside, OCD affects millions of people every year and is disabling for many people who suffer from it.
OCD Symptoms: Obsessions
OCD is a mental health disorder defined by persistent thoughts or fears (obsessions) and repetitive behaviors (compulsions). The obsessions often directly influence or cause the compulsions though in some cases, they operate separately. People with OCD may try to ignore their obsessions, which produces anxiety or stress. The only way to relieve the anxiety is to give in to the obsession by acting out a compulsion. This creates a psychological and physical cycle that is the groundwork of OCD. Disrupting this cycle is the key to healing from OCD.
The easiest way to figure out if you have OCD is to understand its range of symptoms. These are split into obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are often related to the following:
- Fear of dirt or germs
- Finding any amount of uncertainty challenging to deal with emotionally
- A preference for order and symmetry
- Frightening thoughts about losing control or acting out
On their own, those symptoms may sound an awful lot like the stereotypes discussed above. But they must be taken into context with how those obsessions manifest in someone’s thoughts and behaviors. For example, many people struggle with uncertainty and find it preferable to know things. Someone with OCD may struggle with uncertainty related to locking the door when they leave. Whereas someone without OCD may wonder if they really locked the door before moving on with the errand they have to run, OCD may result in that same person going back to check multiple times that they actually have locked the door.
OCD Symptoms: Compulsions
The other category of OCD symptoms is compulsions. These also fall into broader themes, such as washing and cleaning, persistent checking, orderliness, or following an exact routine. Key examples here include:
- Hand washing to the point the skin becomes raw and chapped
- Checking and rechecking to make sure the stove is turned off even when previous checks showed that it was
- Counting, often according to patterns
- Repetitions of words, phrases, or physical motions
You may have noticed some connections between obsessions and compulsions already. For instance, an obsession with germs could manifest as constant hand washing. Notice that hand washing itself is not what defines the compulsive behavior. It is that the handwashing has been taken to an extreme, resulting in raw skin from overwashing. People may rationally understand that extended washing at some point no longer has an impact on the presence of germs. But it is the unbearable mental obsession that can only be satisfied by that behavior that drives the activity.
OCD Treatment Facilities
Armed with the above information, the first step in understanding if you have OCD should still be to procure the advice of a medical professional. With a sound medical judgment in hand, the next step may be to seek healing from OCD at an OCD treatment facility.
OCD treatment facilities employ a combination of medication and behavioral therapy. The type of behavioral therapy used for OCD treatment is called exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy. It specifically addresses the link between the obsessions and compulsions underlying someone’s experience with OCD.
Therapists implementing ERP begin by exposing the patient to a thought, image, or idea that will trigger an obsession. Then, instead of letting the obsession naturally flow into a compulsion, the therapist uses response prevention to guide the patient away from the compulsive behavior.
Find OCD treatment in Texas by calling 866.238.3154.