Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a chronic anxiety disorder that involves obsessions, compulsions, or both. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), OCD affects two to three percent of Americans. People with OCD typically experience obsessions (repetitive, unwanted thoughts) that prompt an extreme urge to repeat a specific behavior. They then act out that urge (compulsion) to help relieve the obsessive thinking. Many people with OCD are undiagnosed and struggle daily to understand their behavior. Many turn to alcohol or drug use to relieve symptoms, resulting in substance use disorders.
At the Atlanta Center for Mental Health, our experienced mental health professionals are familiar with common anxiety disorders, including OCD. We utilize a combination of medication and evidence-based and holistic therapies to create an anxiety disorder treatment plan specific to your individual needs. If you struggle with obsessive-compulsive disorder, we can help. At Atlanta Center for Mental Health, we provide you with a variety of different dual diagnosis treatments, to help you live a better life. Contact us at 833.625.0458 to learn more.
Types of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) comes in many forms but can typically be classified into at least one of four general categories:
- Checking – Repeatedly checking things like light switches, alarms, stoves, locks, or thinking you have a medical condition and checking for symptoms.
- Contamination – Having a fear that everything is dirty or a compulsion to clean.
- Symmetry and ordering – The need to have items lined up or arranged in a particular way.
- Ruminations and intrusive thoughts – An obsession with a particular line of thinking that can sometimes be violent or disturbing.
Many people with OCD recognize that their thoughts or behaviors do not make sense but cannot stop them. Still, others do not realize their behaviors are out of the ordinary. Symptoms may come and go, ease over time, or worsen. People with OCD may try to help themselves by avoiding situations that trigger their obsessions.
Symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
OCD occurs on a spectrum with symptoms ranging from mild to severe. However, even milder symptoms of OCD can be disruptive to daily life and physically and psychologically painful and exhausting.
People with OCD can have symptoms of obsessions, compulsions, or both. These symptoms can interfere with all areas of life, including work, school, and relationships. Following is a look at common obsessions and compulsions:
The content of obsessive thoughts can vary between individuals, but a few common themes include:
- Worries about germs, dirt, or illness
- Fears of harming yourself or someone else
- Fears of saying something offensive or obscene
- A need to have possessions aligned, orderly, or symmetrical
- Explicit sexual or violent thoughts
- Worries about throwing things away
- Questioning your sexual desires or orientation
- Concerns about the health and safety of yourself or your loved ones
- Intrusive images, words, or sounds
These unwanted and intrusive thoughts come back, no matter how hard you try to ignore or suppress them. Their persistence can lead to an even stronger belief that they might be true or come true if you don’t take steps to prevent them.
Examples of compulsive behaviors in OCD include:
- Excessively washing your hands, objects, or body
- Organizing or aligning things in a specific way
- Counting or repeating specific phrases
- Touching something a set number of times
- Seeking reassurance from others
- Collecting particular objects or buying several of the same items
- Hiding things you could use to hurt yourself or someone else
- Mentally going over your actions to make sure you haven’t harmed anyone else
Compulsions are a response to obsessions. Once an obsession surfaces, you might feel compelled to take action to relieve the anxiety and distress it causes or keep the obsessive thought from coming true. You might feel the need to repeat these actions a specific number of times or until things seem “just right.” If you make a mistake during the ritual, you might believe that it won’t work unless you start from the beginning and finish it perfectly.
Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder
OCD is an anxiety disorder often confused with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD). However, the two are not the same. OCPD is a personality disorder characterized by extreme perfectionism, order, and neatness. People with OCPD will also feel a severe need to impose their standards on their outside environment.
People with OCPD have the following characteristics:
- They find it hard to express their feelings.
- They have difficulty forming and maintaining close relationships with others.
- They’re hardworking, but their obsession with perfection can make them inefficient.
- They often feel righteous, indignant, and angry.
- They often face social isolation.
- They can experience anxiety that occurs with depression.
People with OCPD have no idea that there’s anything wrong with how they think or behave. They believe that their way of thinking and doing things is the only correct way and that everyone else is wrong.
Contact the Atlanta Center for Mental Health for OCD Treatment
At the Atlanta Center for Mental Health, we are dedicated to meeting the needs of our clients. The pain of living with the symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder is highly disruptive, and we are here to help. Please contact us today at 833.625.0458 to get started.