Obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, is an anxiety disorder that impacts thoughts and behaviors. There are many variations of OCD that manifest differently for each individual in their struggles and challenges. Learn more about OCD and whether or not it is typically seen as a mental health issue.
Symptoms of OCD
OCD symptoms include specific types of unwanted thoughts, or obsessions, including a set of behaviors that people with OCD have to do to manage anxiety. Anxiety is at the heart of both obsessions and compulsions. Examples of obsessions include:
- Unwanted, uncontrollable thoughts
- A theme such as fear of germs
- A focus on needing symmetry, mathematical organization or grouping
- Upsetting or distressing thoughts, including ones that are terrifying and will not stop
Compulsions may include:
- Behaviors done as a way of stopping the thoughts or feelings
- Often related to the theme of obsessions
- Relieve anxiety temporarily (hand-washing being one)
- Helps the person feel better for a time but anxiety rebuilds again and the need to engage in the activity takes over
- Is obvious to loved ones, family members, or friends and causes great distress for the person and the loved ones involved
Many people may experience mild obsessions or compulsions in times of increased stress. OCD is not the same as having a ‘weird habit,’ or ‘something I do on occasion.’ Clinically, there is a degree of interference with a person’s activities of daily living that can be so significant the person may not even leave their house. Managing symptoms can take significant amounts of time in thinking or behavior.
The treatment options for people with OCD are becoming greater by the day. It is diagnosable by a primary care physician who can support treatment options, including:
- Medication: different ones help ease OCD with few side effects, depending on the individual
- Psychotherapy: great options including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is ‘talk therapy’ to learn how to regain control of one’s thoughts. Combining medication with therapy can be quite successful.
OCD can be a debilitating mental health disorder but there are reasons to have hope. People with OCD can learn to manage their lives more effectively to function and feel happy with the right support and proper treatment.
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