You got mugged and had a disturbing dream about what would happen if you encountered your assailant again – it left you shaking and sweating. But does that mean you’d really act that way? No, not necessarily. But you’re also fixated on celebrity news. Does that mean you have OCD? Maybe.
What is OCD?
“Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a disorder in which people have recurring, unwanted thoughts, ideas or sensations (obsessions) that make them feel driven to do something repetitively (compulsions). The repetitive behaviors, such as hand washing, checking on things or cleaning, can significantly interfere with a person’s daily activities and social interactions.”
Distressing thoughts or repetitive behaviors only become a concern if they start interfering with daily life and occur for at least an hour each day.
Are there disorders related to OCD?
- Body Dysmorphic Disorder. This disorder is known for an obsession with physical form lasting many hours each day.
- Hoarding Disorder. This disorder means you’re compelled to collect large quantities of useless or worthless items, paired with excessive distress at the notion of tossing anything away. In time, this could render your living space unhealthy or perilous to be in.
- Hair-Pulling Disorder
- Skin-Picking Disorder
Many symptoms of these and other mental health disorders can be managed.
- Inheritance or genetics. If you have a blood relative with OCD, you may be at higher risk of developing it yourself.
- How your brain is structured and functions, as studies have revealed variations in the subcortical structures and frontal cortex of the brain in people with OCD. But exact connections are murky.
- Your environment growing up is a risk factor, as well as Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections.
Here’s What OCD Is Not
OCD features very specific behaviors centered around obsessions and compulsions, but certain personality quirks observed by casual observers and perhaps identified as OCD aren’t included in a formal diagnosis. These may include a penchant for collectibles (trading cards, comic books, toy figurines, etc.), fantasy sports or sports-related analytics, interest in celebrities (television and Hollywood stars, musical performers, etc.) or having a “crush” on said celebrity, closely following social media, or desire to own the latest mobile device.
Are OCD Thoughts True?
One of the key powers of OCD as a mental health super villain is its ability to convince someone exhibiting known symptoms that their thoughts are true. But that’s not the case. One of the reasons you may think your distressing or uninvited thoughts are real is because of how much time the average person spends each day in thought. According to psychologists at Harvard, most people spend nearly 47 percent of their day thinking of something not related to what they’re doing. All totaled, time spent in conscious thought in any day may be close to 70 percent.
OCD symptoms, in other words, cause many people to think continuously about what’s bothering them.
Common OCD symptoms – obsessions:
- Fear of becoming infected by someone or your surroundings
- Unnerving prurient thoughts or images
- Fear of shouting out vulgarities or insults
- Intense concern with order, evenness, or precision
- Repeated intrusive thoughts of noises, pictures, words, or numbers
- Worry of losing or getting rid of something valuable
Common OCD symptoms – compulsions
- Unnecessary or ritualized actions (brushing teeth, hand washing, showering, or using the toilet)
- Continual cleaning of household items
- Ordering or displaying things in a specific way
- Continually checking appliances, or locks, switches
- Constantly seeking endorsement or reassurance
- Repetitive counting to a specific number
Ketamine infusion may be one way to cope with OCD symptoms, but there are self-help techniques like being willing to accept risk, expecting the unexpected, it’s your responsibility, don’t waste time trying to stop thoughts, and many others.
Diagnosis & Treatment
Ways to diagnose OCD may include:
- Psychological evaluation: talking about your thoughts, feelings, and behavior to see if you have obsessions or compulsive behaviors that inhibit your quality of living. If given permission, your doctor may talk to your friends or family.
- Comparing your symptoms to criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, published by the American Psychiatric Association.
- A physical exam to help rule out any ailment that could be triggering your symptoms and to look for any related problems.
After diagnosis, you may be treated with psychotherapy, certain medicine, or ketamine infusion therapy.
According to the U.S. National Institute of Health, about 1.2 percent of adults have OCD symptoms each year. That means you’re not alone, but it also means that resources are dedicated to learning about the condition and how it can be treated. Contact us today to learn more about treatments that can help you find relief.