OCD 101: The Signs and Symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

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Do you ever feel an overwhelming urge to do something, maybe do it over and over again, even if it’s not necessary, unreasonable or downright silly? Most people do at one time or another.

As a society, we often make light of this sometimes annoying trait, joking “oh, that’s just my OCD acting up.” Yet Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, also known as Anankastic personality disorder, is a serious behavior and brain disorder that affects millions of people around the globe each year.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, OCD affects about 2.2 million American adults at any given time. It affects men and women in about equal numbers, and usually manifests in the period of time between childhood and early adulthood. Diagnoses are most often made before the age of 19, but OCD can affect a person at any stage of life.

Persons with OCD suffer serious disruptions in their everyday lives due to their obsessive behavior. The disorder causes anxiety, distraction, and a significant investment of time. Though people may dismiss their actions as just a harmless eccentricity, for the sufferer OCD can be a nightmare.

Symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

The Mayo Clinic defines OCD simply as “characterized by unreasonable thoughts and fears (obsessions) that lead you to do repetitive behaviors (compulsions). It’s also possible to have only obsessions or only compulsions and still have OCD.” People with the disorder will generally feel an overwhelming need to perform certain actions, almost ritualistically.

For example, if a person is obsessed with germs and dirt, they may wash their hands or clean their surroundings excessively, or they may have a compulsion to count things, or to check and re-check that their doors are locked at night. OCD might also manifest as a need for order and symmetry, constantly rearranging their furniture and belongings, or hoarding things.

Severe Consequences

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When OCD takes the form of being constantly worried about the safety of a loved one, or that one might have made a mistake that could have severe consequences, and not just the momentary worry a normal person might experience, it can cause extreme, even crippling anxiety.

Symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive disorder can be summarized as:

  • Having repeated or constant thoughts about neatness, germs, home intruders, sexual acts, religious beliefs, harming self or others, bodily fluids, radiation, and chemicals, contracting a disease, superstitions, rereading passages in books, and many other things.
  • Ritualistic behaviors such as stated above, the need to do things over and over again
  • An inability to control unwanted behaviors and thoughts
  • Spending at least an hour a day on these thoughts and behaviors, to the point it that it begins to disrupt everyday activities

The obsession part of OCD can be said to encompass the thoughts of the sufferer, the compulsion part the actions. Obsessions lead to compulsive behavior. Although some risk factors have been identified that seem to be related to OCD, such as genetics and child abuse, the cause remains unknown.

Professional Guidance is Essential

If you know someone that seems to be suffering from the symptoms of OCD, it’s important to encourage them to seek professional help. There are behavioral and cognitive therapies, as well as medications, that have been proved effective in managing the effects of the disorder.

Psychoanalysis and psychotherapy have also been used successfully in some patients. There’s no need for someone to continue to suffer. Contact Mental Health Center today to learn more about the symptoms of OCD, and to set up a private consultation.