Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Do you often find yourself repeatedly checking to see if a door is locked or an iron turned off, or need to have things put back exactly where they were, or excessive washing of hands , you could be suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is depicted in the movie, "As Good As It Gets ", with Jack Nicholson who portrays a middle aged man, Melvin Udall, with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)who avoids stepping on cracks, flips light switch exactly five times and washes his hands repeatedly.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

What is OCD

OCD is a chronic debilitating mental health condition characterized by distressing intrusive thoughts that produce anxiety and repetitive compulsive behaviors that one participates in to reduce anxiety. Individuals with OCD are unable to control their anxiety producing thoughts and their need to engage in repetitive behavior. OCD can have a tremendous negative impact on ones life. It can be devastating emotionally, socially, and vocationally. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, there are approximately 2.3% of the adult population between ages 18-54 suffer from OCD. In the United States there are approximately 3.3 million people who suffer from OCD.

What Are The Symptoms of OCD

OCD symptoms include obsessions. These are unwanted thoughts that are impulsive and repetitive. They can cause anxiety or fear. Examples include:

  • Repeating things
  • Fear of getting dirty or infected
  • Fear of harming self or others
  • Hyper focus on a thought repetitively

OCD symptoms also include Compulsions. These are behaviors that an individual repeats to try to control the obsessions. Some behaviors are structured/rigid and others are behaviors that change. Examples include:

  • The need to do things perfectly
  • Moving items to keep them in perfect order or
  • Excessive hand washing
  • Checking repetitively if things are done
  • Counting often

The obsessions and/or compulsions take up a lot of time and interferes with ones daily life and can affect relationships and social life. Individuals with OCD know that thoughts and compulsions are not realistic but they can not stop the behavior. The repetitive thoughts and compulsions only temporarily relieve the anxiety which results in the need to repeat the behavior again and again.

What Is The Treatment for OCD

OCD can be treated. The most effective treatment for OCD is cognitive behavioral therapy which helps individuals identify unrealistic thoughts and then change how those thoughts are interpreted and redefine them. The therapy also includes the individual facing the anxiety that's provoking the behavior and learning strategies to move through it. There are certain individuals that may also need the assistance of medication along with cognitive behavioral therapy to treat their OCD.

If you feel that you or a loved one may be suffering from OCD, contact us today for a consultation.

About the author: Sharon M. Walsh, MSW, LCSW

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