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OCD Symptoms & Treatment
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a mental health disorder that affects people of all ages. OCD is characterized by repetitive, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and/or behaviors (compulsions) that the person feels they cannot control. OCD can be a debilitating disorder, causing significant distress and interference in daily life. However, with proper treatment, many people with OCD can learn to manage their symptoms and live healthy, productive lives.
Symptoms of OCD can vary from person to person, but typically involve obsessions and/or compulsions that are excessive and unreasonable.
Obsessions are recurrent, intrusive thoughts that can cause anxiety or distress. Common themes for obsessions include contamination, perfectionism, order, control, and uncertainty. These obsessions can induce fear, doubt, and stress. Obsessions can even manifest as unwanted, intrusive thoughts which typically revolve around topics such as aggression, sexuality, or religious subjects. Mental imagery spurred on by these obsessions often takes the form of harm befalling the individual, their loved ones, or strangers.
Compulsions are the manifestation of the obsession and are often performed in an excessive, somewhat ritualistic manner. This includes repetitive behaviors or mental acts that the person feels they must perform in order to reduce anxiety or prevent something bad from happening. Common compulsions include excessive handwashing, constant cleaning, unusual grooming habits, quietly repeating phrases or prayers, hoarding, continually checking that all doors are locked and appliances are off, and performing a task a certain number of times. While these are some common compulsions, there are many, many more, though they mostly tend to revolve around washing, cleaning, counting, checking, and repeating actions.
OCD can cause significant distress and interference in daily life. People with OCD may avoid certain situations or objects out of fear of triggering their obsessions or compulsions. For example, someone with a fear of contamination may avoid touching doorknobs or shaking hands with others. In severe cases, OCD can be completely debilitating, making it difficult for the person to work, go to school, or even leave the house.
Treatment for OCD usually involves a combination of medication and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is a type of therapy that helps people change their thinking patterns and behaviors. In exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy, which is a type of CBT, people with OCD are exposed to the things that trigger their obsessions, but are then prevented from engaging in their compulsions. This can help them to learn to manage their symptoms and live healthy, productive lives.
If you or someone you know is struggling with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, there is help available. Contact the mental health professionals at Nickischer & Associates for more information on treatment options.