Anxiety disorders like Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) can take a significant toll on a person’s wellbeing. Our goal is to help you take control of your mental health and live a life free of troubling fixations.
There’s something to be said for paying attention to the little things -- but what happens when those little things begin to feel overwhelming?
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder that causes people to become trapped in a cycle of obsessions and compulsions that affect their ability to live their lives freely. While anxiety disorders as a whole affect a great many people -- over 18% of adults in the United States -- obsessive compulsive disorder is less common. Affecting about 1% of the population, 2.2 million American adults struggle with OCD each year.
If you believe that you or someone you care about might be experiencing Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, you are not alone. Keep reading to learn more about:
If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, please contact emergency services or reach out to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)’s free, confidential, 24/7 national helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) for immediate assistance.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is categorized as an anxiety disorder. Like other anxiety disorders, people with OCD have an intense or overwhelming reaction to things people who aren’t affected wouldn’t think twice about.
There are two major components of OCD: obsessions and compulsions.
Obsessions are recurrent, intrusive thoughts or sensations. For example, these can be thoughts of a burglar breaking into a person’s home or dangerous germs crawling over their skin.
Compulsions are repetitive actions that people with OCD are driven to complete as a result of their obsessions. These are behaviors like locking and relocking the front door or devoting an extreme amount of time to cleaning.
Some common fixations people with OCD might experience include:
Fixating on these thoughts and behaviors can cause a great deal of stress and have a tremendous impact on a person’s life. Someone with OCD might have trouble completing daily activities like making breakfast, going to the store, or interacting with others as a result of their obsessions and compulsions.
To be considered for a diagnosis of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, a person must be experiencing obsessive thoughts and compulsive behavior for an hour or more every day. Another key component of the diagnosis is that a person with OCD experiences anxiety as a result of their fixations.
Over the course of decades, pop culture has helped establish a number of stereotypes about obsessive compulsive disorder. People who are very meticulous or keep their spaces very clean might sometimes even be heard uttering an apology or explanation to the effect of, “Sorry, just my OCD acting up again.”
Many people have routines. Many people are particular about certain aspects of their lives. This is normal.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is when routines become so disruptive that they make it hard to manage daily life. An organized person organizes their desk; a person with OCD spends so much time and emotional energy fixating on the state of their desk that they may not be able to leave their house to go to work, shop for groceries, or keep touch with loved ones.
The symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder can be traced back to the two major components of the disorder: obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors. Obsessions and compulsions can look very different from person to person.
Fixating on obsessions and compulsions can cause symptoms such as:
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a complex condition. There are a variety of risk factors that make individuals more or less susceptible to developing OCD. Research suggests that the most prominent risk factors for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder are genetic and biological.
Studies involving identical twins and the immediate families of people with obsessive compulsive disorder have suggested that genetic risk factors play a major role in whether or not a person is at risk of developing OCD. That being said, we have not identified a single gene that causes OCD. Rather, there are different versions or alleles of several genes that may contribute to a person’s OCD risk.
Our bodies rely on a number of biochemicals in order to function properly. Early research suggests that the neurotransmitter serotonin -- which also impacts the risk of an individual developing depression or generalized anxiety -- may play a role in OCD risk as well.
Having a genetic predisposition towards a certain mental illness does not necessarily mean it will develop. People who develop OCD often experience environment factors that impact their mental health as well. Prenatal weight gain, difficult labor, and traumatic events and abuse have all been linked to OCD risk.
Like any complex disorder, treating OCD involves working with a mental health professional to develop a plan based on a patient’s unique situation.
Treatment for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder might include:
At Transformations Care Network, we are dedicated to helping people in our communities access life-changing mental health care. If you believe that you are experiencing an anxiety disorder like OCD, contact us today to learn what our compassionate care providers can do for you.