According to the National Institute of Mental Health, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) affects 2-3% of the population. The disorder is characterized by a pattern of unwanted thoughts or fears (obsessions) that cause an individual to perform a set of repetitive behaviors (compulsions). OCD interferes with a person’s daily activities and can lead to significant distress.
Symptoms of OCD
People that have been diagnosed with OCD typically experience both obsessions and compulsions. However, there are some individuals who only experience symptoms of obsessions or only symptoms of compulsion.
Symptoms of Obsession
Obsessions are persistent and repeated unwanted thoughts, urges or images that cause you to feel stress or anxiety. Though you may try to ignore these mental intrusions, most with OCD relieve the stress and tension by performing a compulsive behavior or ritual.
The following are some of the most common symptoms of obsessions:
- Fear of being somehow contaminated by an object they just touched. Usually the fear is of germs.
- A strong feeling of doubt or uncertainty. You’re already a half hour into your morning commute to work but are overcome by the idea that you left the front door unlocked.
- And intense need to have objects orderly or arranged in a specific way.
- Intense thoughts or imaginings of losing control and harming yourself or others.
- Unpleasant sexual images.
- Thoughts of acting inappropriately, such as shouting obscenities in public.
Symptoms of Compulsion
OCD compulsions are repetitive behaviors that an individual feels driven to perform in an effort to relieve the stress triggered by their obsession or stop something bad from happening.
Some of the most common symptoms of compulsion are:
- Washing and cleaning. A person can wash their hands so much they develop sores and blisters.
- Checking and rechecking. This may be checking and rechecking to make sure you set your alarm, locked the door, or turned off the stove.
- Orderliness to an extreme. You may arrange and rearrange items in your medicine cabinet or on your bedside table over and over again until they are just right.
Is it Time to Get Help?
Some people make the mistake of confusing perfectionism – a driving urge to have flawless results or a perfect performance – with OCD. But they are not the same thing. OCD symptoms take a real toll on an individual and interfere with their quality of life.
If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with OCD or you think you or they may have OCD based on these symptoms, please feel free to call my office. I would be happy to speak to you about your specific concerns and the treatment options available to you.