OCD is a type of anxiety disorder that is characterized by excessive unwanted thoughts, concerns, and fears (obsessions) that may lead to repetitive behavior (compulsions). These thoughts and behaviors may be unreasonable and fear-based, and often trigger intense distress that gets in the way of everyday functioning and managing the tasks of everyday living.
OCD is typically a lifelong disorder that may start in childhood but more likely begins during the teen or young adult years. With it being a lifelong disorder, the severity of the symptoms and the types of obsessions and compulsions one might have can fluctuate. Overall, symptoms usually get worse during times of stress. Severe symptoms are often so distressing and time-consuming that you aren’t able to perform necessary functions. However, even if symptoms aren’t severe, they may still be excessive and take a great deal of time and energy as well as impact your daily life and relationships.
The obsessions and compulsions that may be experienced when having OCD usually revolve around a theme. For example, one theme could revolve around the fear of a tragedy. An obsessive thought that might center around this theme is a fear of causing harm to loved ones, others, or yourself by accidentally causing your house to catch on fire. Because of this obsessive thought, you compulsively and repeatedly check that the stove is off. There are a wide variety of themes present within OCD, and these themes, like obsessions and compulsions, can fluctuate throughout your life.
The symptoms of OCD typically include having obsessive thoughts that result in compulsive actions surrounding themes such as:
- Contamination Fears / Washing Compulsions
- Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD / appearance-related obsessions)
- Social Anxiety
- Phobias (fear of animals, flying, vomiting, leaving home, freeways, etc.)
- Panic Disorder (fear of panic attacks)
- Hyper-Responsibility OCD / Checking (fear of making a mistake or causing a tragedy)
- Hypochondria (fear of having/getting illnesses)
- Harm OCD (violent obsessions, hit-and-run OCD, fear of causing harm)
- Sexual Orientation OCD (fear of being in denial about sexual orientation)
- Pedophile Obsessions (fear of inappropriate sexual thoughts about children)
- Relationship OCD (obsessions about love and fidelity)
- Religious or Moral Obsessions (Scrupulosity)
- Sensorimotor OCD (fear of consciousness of blinking, swallowing, breathing, etc.)
It’s important to note that not all themes are listed above, and it is very possible to struggle with a theme that isn’t present. Also, it is possible to have OCD if you only have obsessive thoughts or only do compulsive, repetitive actions. You do not have to do both in order to be diagnosed with OCD.
It is important to get an OCD diagnosis from a trained professional. Only once a diagnosis has been made should you work with your doctor to determine an appropriate and comprehensive treatment plan that works for you.
If you think that you or a loved one is struggling with OCD, let us help. Go to our Contact Us page and reach out to us in a way that is comfortable for you. Together, we can find a path forward.