Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental disorder characterized by intrusive, unwanted, and repetitive thoughts (obsessions) and urges to perform certain behaviors (compulsions) repeatedly in order to reduce the anxiety caused by the obsessions. OCD affects people of all ages and can have a significant impact on daily life, causing distress and difficulty in performing daily activities.
The good news is that OCD is treatable, and with the right help, people with OCD can learn to manage their symptoms and lead fulfilling lives.
Types of OCD
There are different types of OCD, with different symptoms and behaviors, but all are characterized by obsessions and compulsions. Some of the most common types of OCD include:
- Contamination OCD is characterized by intrusive thoughts about contamination and a strong urge to clean or avoid contaminated objects or situations. People with this type of OCD may spend hours washing their hands, cleaning their homes, or avoiding contact with potentially contaminated objects.
- Harm OCD involves intrusive thoughts about causing harm to others, such as violence, injury, or death. People with harm OCD may perform compulsive behaviors to prevent these thoughts from coming true, such as repeatedly checking that they have not caused harm, seeking reassurance from others, or avoiding situations where they might cause harm.
- Checking OCD is characterized by repetitive checking behaviors, such as checking locks, appliances, or switches, to ensure they are off or in the correct position. People with checking OCD may check multiple times to make sure, causing significant delay and disruption in daily life.
Symmetry and Ordering OCD
- Symmetry and ordering OCD involves repetitive behaviors aimed at achieving symmetry or order. People with this type of OCD may spend hours arranging objects or arranging things in a specific way, or feeling distressed when things are not symmetrical or ordered.
- Hoarding OCD is characterized by an intense attachment to objects and a fear of losing or discarding them. People with hoarding OCD may accumulate clutter in their homes, making it hard to use the living space and causing health and safety concerns.
Symptoms of OCD
The symptoms of OCD can vary from person to person, but generally include:
- Intrusive and repetitive thoughts (obsessions)
- Urges to perform repetitive behaviors (compulsions)
- Significant anxiety caused by the obsessions
- Distress and difficulty in performing daily activities
- Struggling to control obsessions and compulsive behaviors
- Spending at least an hour a day on obsessions and compulsive behaviors
Who is Affected by OCD?
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) affects people of all ages, genders, races, and cultural backgrounds. Although the exact causes of OCD are not yet fully understood, it is believed to be a combination of genetic, environmental, and neurobiological factors. OCD typically begins in adolescence or early adulthood, with the average age of onset being 19 years old. However, the disorder can also develop in childhood or later in life.
OCD affects about 1% of the adult population and 2-3% of children and adolescents. While the prevalence of OCD is relatively similar across different demographic groups, certain subtypes of OCD may be more common in certain populations. For example, OCD contamination is more common in women, while symmetry and ordering OCD is more common in men. Regardless of demographics, it is important for anyone who is experiencing symptoms of OCD to seek help from a mental health professional.
Diagnosis and Treatment
A diagnosis of OCD is made by a mental health professional, who will take a comprehensive medical and psychological history and perform a physical examination to rule out any underlying medical conditions that may be contributing to the symptoms. The professional may also use diagnostic tools such as the Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (Y-BOCS) or the Obsessive-Compulsive Inventory (OCI) to assess the severity of the symptoms.
Treatment for OCD typically involves a combination of medication and psychotherapy, specifically cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is a type of therapy that helps people understand the thoughts and behaviors that maintain their OCD and teaches them coping strategies to manage their symptoms. Medication, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), can be prescribed to help reduce the anxiety caused by obsessions and compulsive behaviors.
At Exodus Health, We understand how challenging it can be to live with OCD. We are here to offer hope and support. Our compassionate and knowledgeable staff is dedicated to providing the highest quality care. Don’t wait, take the first step towards a brighter future and contact us today to learn more about this life-changing treatment.