Most people will have obsessive thoughts or compulsive behaviors at some point in their life. Those thoughts, however, don’t always mean that you have obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD. So what does it mean to have OCD then? Here’s the low down.
A Cycle of Obsessions and Compulsions
We often hear people talk jokingly about “being OCD,” but the truth is that it’s more than being particular about how you clean or organize your pantry. OCD is an anxiety disorder where a person is driven to perform specific rituals or behaviors due to unwanted, reoccurring thoughts. Those who have OCD are caught in this cycle and driven again and again to perform behaviors to satisfy obsessive thoughts. The relief is only temporary, often coming back stronger and causing anxiety as they become increasingly demanding and time-consuming.
Those affected recognize their obsessions and know they aren’t rational, but they can’t stop them. Eventually, the obsessions and compulsions become so overwhelming; they interfere with daily life. There are four main categories individuals with the condition fall into, but there are infinite types in reality. Let’s take a closer look at the more common types and their common symptoms:
- Repeatedly clean or wash things and hands due to fear of contamination.
- Constantly double-check things they feel will cause harm or danger, like turning off the oven, locking the door, etc.
- If everything isn’t perfect or done just right, they will be punished, or something terrible will happen.
- Arranging and Counting:
- Concerned about evenness or exactness and will repeatedly count and make adjustments until it “feels right.”
Treatment for most OCD patients involves cognitive therapy to help develop healthy responses to obsessions. Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) is another component of the therapy. ERP is where patients face repeated exposure to the source of their obsession. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is the most effective treatment but can be done in conjunction with medication.
Although most patients with OCD respond to treatment, some patients continue to experience symptoms. Research is vital to better understanding the factors associated with OCD and improving treatment options. If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with OCD, research studies may be an option. To learn more about enrolling OCD studies at Boeson Research, call (406) 763-8833 or visit our website.