Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health condition – specifically, an anxiety disorder – characterized by obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are patterns of unwanted thoughts or feelings, and compulsions are characterized by the urge to do certain repetitive behaviors.
A key OCD diagnostic criteria is that these obsessions and compulsions are so severe that they interfere with your daily life.
Do I have OCD?
OCD symptoms are complex and variable. Some individuals experience obsessions more than compulsions or compulsions more than obsessions, or even a relatively equal combination of the two.
OCD often falls into groups or categories, meaning that obsessions and compulsions are typically concerned with a certain theme. The most common OCD-related groups include cleaning and contamination; counting, evenness, and order; sexual subject matter; hoarding; and behavioral tics.
The OCD symptoms described are experienced to a severe degree, interfering with your normal life and evoking distress.
Symptoms of obsessions can include:
- Extreme fear of contamination or exposure to potential contaminants
- Unwanted intrusive thoughts, often about harmful subject matter, such as thoughts of driving off of a cliff or hurting a loved one without intending to act on it
- Doubting and uncertainty to an extreme degree, such as doubt that you locked the front door or turned off the stove
- Strong need for order, cleanliness, symmetry or feeling “just right”
- Avoidance of situations related to obsessions, such as physical contact with a person or object that might be contaminated
- Extreme distress when things aren’t “just right”
- Inability to sleep until you feel that everything is in order
- Thoughts or urges about shouting in public, hitting someone, or otherwise acting spontaneously and inappropriately
- Fixation on how you completed a certain task or said a certain word, to the point of repeating the behavior until it feels “just right”
- Feeling that something bad will happen if you don’t act on your obsessions – for example, feeling impending doom until you have washed your hands properly or organized items in a certain way
- Urge to “even out” – for example, touching an object with both hands so that the sensation is even
Compulsions are motivated by the belief that performing certain tasks or behaviors will alleviate anxiety.
Symptoms of compulsions can include:
- Cleaning or washing items that are perceived to be contaminated
- Throwing away items perceived to be contaminated
- Arranging things in a certain and specific way
- Counting in specific patterns
- Hoarding or buying multiple of the same items
- Counting or performing certain tasks a specific way, such as walking up or down stairs
- Checking on things repeatedly, like checking that you locked the front door or have blown out a candle, even if you know you have already checked
- Doing tasks in a specific order or manner so that it feels “just right”
- Washing hands until they are raw to get rid of the feeling of contamination
- Doing things that will satiate your need for symmetry – for example, if you bump your left foot on something, you bump your right foot on the same thing
- Collecting a certain number of items
- Performing daily rituals, such as doing tasks a certain amount of times before you can go to sleep
- Physically retracing your steps to ensure you have completed the day’s rituals, or to ensure that you haven’t inadvertently harmed anyone
Is there treatment for OCD?
It can be difficult to come to terms with the idea that you might be struggling with OCD, and you may be feeling lost after recognizing these symptoms or receiving a diagnosis.
If you’re looking for thorough, compassionate and personalized treatment for OCD, contact Pyramid Family Behavioral Healthcare today. Our one-on-one, insight-oriented counseling program can help you to understand the root cause of OCD while teaching coping and management skills. Call (678) 274-4936 to take steps toward alleviating your OCD symptoms today.