OCD is a mental health condition that causes a person to have uncontrollable thoughts, images, or impulses (obsessions) that are often distressing or frightening. To neutralize or alleviate the anxiety caused by these obsessions, a person may feel compelled to engage in repetitive behaviors, rituals, or mental acts (compulsions).
What Are The Symptoms Of OCD?
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is diagnosed based on a set of criteria outlined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). To be diagnosed with OCD, someone must experience obsessions or compulsions that interfere with their daily life and cause severe emotional and psychological distress.
Examples of obsessions include:
- Fear of contamination, germs, or illness
- Doubts about one’s own morality or religious beliefs
- Preoccupation with symmetry, order, or exactness
- Intrusive thoughts about harming oneself or others
Common examples of compulsions include:
- Excessive cleaning, washing, or disinfecting of surfaces
- Checking and rechecking, such as locking doors or turning off appliances
- Counting, arranging, or organizing objects in a specific way
- Mental rituals, such as repeating words or phrases to neutralize obsessive thoughts
Most people with OCD will often recognize that their thoughts and behaviors are irrational but feel helpless and unable to stop them.
What Causes OCD?
The exact cause of OCD is unknown, but it is believed to be caused by a combination of biological, genetic, and environmental conditioning.
Biology: research suggests that OCD may be caused by irregularities in certain brain structures or chemical miscommunication between neurons. These changes are believed to lead to altered activity in the cortico-striatal-thalamo-cortical (CSTC) circuit, which is a network of regions in the brain that are involved in controlling behavior, thoughts, and emotions – culminating in OCD.
Genetics: OCD tends to run in families. People with a first-degree relative (parent or sibling) with OCD are at higher risk of developing OCD in the presence of other factors.
Environmental factors: Stressful life events have been linked to the onset of OCD, such as significant loss, trauma, or prolonged periods of stress.
Do I Have OCD, Or Is It Just A Quirk?
It’s crucial to note that having a routine or preference for orderliness does not necessarily mean you have OCD. However, if these behaviors interfere with your daily life or cause significant distress, it may be a sign you have OCD.
OCD compulsions are often time-consuming to the point of interfering with daily life. For instance, someone with a fear of germs or an obsession with cleanliness may spend several hours every day cleaning, washing, or organizing a room at the expense of important responsibilities.
Additionally, someone with OCD may feel excessively anxious or become irritable if their rituals are interrupted or not done in a certain way.
When To Seek Help
If you have obsessions or compulsions that are interfering with your daily life or causing significant distress, it may be time to seek help. Talk to your healthcare provider or a mental health professional about your symptoms and concerns.
They can provide a conclusive diagnosis and recommend the best course of treatment. The most common treatments for OCD include psychotherapy, medications, and lifestyle changes.
If you are experiencing symptoms of OCD, it’s essential to seek help from a mental health professional. A diagnosis of OCD typically involves a comprehensive evaluation of your symptoms, medical history, and psychological evaluation.
Your healthcare provider may ask questions about your symptoms, how they impact your daily life, and your medical history. They may also use diagnostic tools such as the Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale (Y-BOCS) to assess the severity of symptoms).
OCD can be a debilitating disorder that causes significant distress and interference in your daily life if left untreated. Fortunately, with proper diagnosis and treatment, you can effectively manage the symptoms and improve quality of life.
If you think you may have OCD or are concerned about a loved one, don’t hesitate to seek professional assistance. OCD is a mental illness that can affect anyone, and there is no shame in seeking help.