Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health condition that affects millions of people a day. While for many people OCD is something they just live with, for others the disease is so debilitating that it impacts their ability to go about their daily life and perform even the simplest of activities. For those people, seeking treatment at an OCD treatment facility might be the best, and safest way to get the help that they need so that they can go back to enjoying their life again.
On this page, we will discuss OCD, some of the signs and symptoms associated with OCD, the effects OCD can have on a person’s daily life, and treatment options for those in need.
What Is OCD?
As we touched on in the introduction, OCD or obsessive-compulsive disorder is a mental health condition that is characterized by unwanted, intrusive, and repetitive thoughts and actions. The thoughts are considered obsessions while the actions are referred to as compulsions. While many who suffer from OCD are able to acknowledge that these thoughts and actions aren’t healthy, the larger issue is that they aren’t able to control or stop them.
While there is no known specific cause of OCD, it is believed that certain factors can trigger some of the symptoms and even possibly make them worse. An example of this is stress. While stress isn’t the sole cause of OCD, it can lead to a worsening of symptoms.
Some other factors that can play a role in the development of OCD include:
- A direct (blood) family member who has OCD
- A history of abuse as a child
- Traumatic experiences
- A chemical imbalance in the brain
- Depression or anxiety
The largest risk factor by far is genetics. If a person suffers from OCD, there is around a 1 in 4 chance that a direct family member also suffers from it.
Are There Different Forms of OCD?
While everyone who suffers from OCD might experience their own unique symptoms, for the most part, most obsessive-compulsive disorder diagnoses fall under one of four categories. These 4 categories are:
- Symmetry and order – needing things positioned in a certain way
- Contamination – fear if anything is clean
- Checking – constantly checking at things like clocks and locks
- Ruminations and intrusive thoughts – Obsessing over a thought
What Are Some of the Symptoms of OCD?
Experiencing the occasional obsessive thought or compulsive behavior doesn’t automatically mean a person is suffering from OCD. In order for a person to officially be diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder, they must experience these thoughts or behaviors for more than an hour and said thoughts or behaviors must be extreme enough that it interferes with their daily life and activities.
Below are some of the signs and symptoms associated with both obsessions and compulsions.
Obsessions are irrational and intrusive thoughts that occur over and over again and can’t be stopped. These obsessions can often cause anxiety or even feelings of shame or disgust. As we touched on earlier, in many cases the person dealing with these obsessive thoughts recognizes that they are not healthy but can’t do anything about it. While instinct might be to try and simply ignore them, doing so can sometimes make the thoughts even more extreme.
Some examples and symptoms of obsessions include:
- A fear of contamination, dirt, or germs
- Thoughts of harming yourself or others
- Constantly doubting that you did something or did it right
- An irrational fear of saying or doing something inappropriate in public
- Unpleasant sexual images
- Constantly needing things placed in a certain location or in a certain way
- Fear of losing or misplacing something of value
- Convincing yourself that something is happening even if there is no reason to think there is
A compulsion is any act that is done in order to temporarily relieve the symptoms associated with an obsession. These acts are done in order to scratch the metaphorical itch in the brain. In most cases, the person performing this compulsive act knows that the act doesn’t make any sense but they feel that they must do so in order to relieve the symptoms associated with their obsession.
Some examples of compulsions and the symptoms associated with them include:
- Doing the same task repeatedly such as washing hands, showering, or brushing your teeth
- Repeated cleaning
- Ordering things in a specific way
- Counting the same thing repeatedly
- Constantly seeking approval
- Constantly checking locks and appliances
- Following a strict routine even when it’s not convenient
Are There Conditions That Are Similar to OCD?
OCD shares some of its characteristics with other mental health conditions. At times this can make the diagnosis process tricky since several other conditions have similar symptoms and characteristics.
You might know someone who refuses to throw anything away. It seems like everyone has that one family member or friend that is like that. Most people just chalk hoarding up as a funny quirk or something to rag on the hoarder about. However, it can also be a sign of a larger issue known as hoarding disorder.
Hoarders, tend to not only collect items that hold little to no monetary or sentimental value, but they are also afraid to throw anything away. If not addressed properly it can result in unsafe or unsanitary living conditions. Hoarding disorder can negatively impact a person’s life and, much in the same way as someone with OCD, the hoarder often knows that what they are doing is harmful and yet they can’t stop.
Someone suffering from body dysmorphia is obsessed with their physical appearance. Just because someone takes an interest in their physical appearance though doesn’t automatically mean that they suffer from body dysmorphic disorder. Someone who is suffering from this condition obsesses over their appearance for multiple hours to the point where it interferes with their daily life. Even the slightest perceived flaw, whether it be real or imaginary, can cause the person to go into a tailspin and can even lead them to try and commit harm to themselves. Their level of obsessing is similar to someone who suffers from OCD.
In stressful situations, many people might revert to biting their nails, grinding their teeth, or another habit. However, someone suffering from trichotillomania will experience the compulsive urge to do things like pull out and possibly even eat their own hair or eyebrows. Much in the same way as those with OCD experience, some with this disease might be aware that they are doing it and still do it anyway. Trichotillomania can lead to serious injury including the formation of hairballs in the stomach which can be life-threatening.
Is OCD Treatable?
For those whose OCD is so bad that it is negatively impacting their life, or for those who simply want to address their issues, treatment options are available.
Depending on the severity of your OCD and what is recommended, the best treatment option might be to enter into a specialized inpatient or outpatient treatment that addresses mental health issues such as OCD. If you choose inpatient treatment you will live at the facility for the duration of your treatment, while an outpatient program will allow you to go to the facility during the day for treatment and then return home to your regular life.
Whether you go the inpatient or outpatient route, treatment will focus mainly on various therapy sessions, both individual and group. The most successful therapy that is used for treating OCD is cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT. CBT helps identify the triggers or causes of your OCD so you can better understand your situation. CBT can also teach you healthier ways to handle some of your OCD symptoms so that you can go about your life without it causing too many disturbances.
Another successful way to help treat OCD is through certain medications. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are typically prescribed to treat depression, but they have also proven to be effective in treating OCD.
Medications that have been approved by the FDA to treat OCD include:
There are also certain things you can do on your own to help with your OCD symptoms. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can cut down on stress and anxiety levels which can intensify OCD symptoms. Relaxation techniques such as mediation and yoga can be a great and easy way to lower stress and anxiety levels even on the go.
Are You Looking For OCD Treatment Facilities?
OCD can be a debilitating ailment if not treated properly. It can have a negative impact on a person’s life including relationships, jobs, or even the ability to perform basic daily tasks. If you or someone you know is suffering from OCD, it’s important to get help before it gets worse.
At Tulula Health we specialize in treating mental health conditions, such as OCD. We offer outpatient, intensive outpatient, and partial hospitalization programs in order to best accommodate everyone and their needs. For more information, or to learn how we can help with OCD treatment, contact us today.