Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by unreasonable thoughts and fears (obsessions) that lead you to do repetitive behaviors (compulsions). With obsessive-compulsive disorder, you may realize that your obsessions aren’t reasonable, and you may try to ignore them or stop them. But that only increases your distress and anxiety. Ultimately, you feel driven to perform compulsive acts in an effort to ease your stressful feelings.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is often centered on a theme, such as a fear of getting contaminated by germs. To ease your contamination fears, you may compulsively wash your hands until they’re sore and chapped. Despite your efforts, thoughts of obsessive-compulsive behavior keep coming back. This leads to more ritualistic behavior and a vicious cycle that’s characteristic of obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder symptoms include both obsessions and compulsions.
OCD obsessions are repeated, persistent and unwanted ideas, thoughts, images or impulses that you have involuntarily and that seem to make no sense. These obsessions typically intrude when you’re trying to think of or do other things.
Obsessions often have themes to them, such as:
- Fear of contamination or dirt
- Having things orderly and symmetrical
- Aggressive or horrific impulses
- Sexual images or thoughts
Obsession symptoms and signs may include:
- Fear of being contaminated by shaking hands or by touching objects others have touched and avoidance of situations that can trigger obsessions, such as shaking hands
- Concerns that you’ve locked the door or turned off the stove
- Thoughts that you’ve hurt someone in a traffic accident
- Intense reactions when objects aren’t orderly or facing the right way
- Images of hurting your child
- Impulses to shout obscenities in inappropriate situations
- Replaying pornographic images in your mind
- Dermatitis because of frequent hand washing
- Skin lesions because of picking at your skin
- Hair loss or bald spots because of hair pulling
OCD compulsions are repetitive behaviors that you feel driven to perform. These repetitive behaviors are meant to prevent or reduce anxiety related to your obsessions. For instance, if you believe you hit someone with your car, you may return to the apparent scene over and over because you just can’t shake your doubts. You may also make up rules or rituals to follow that help control the anxiety you feel when having obsessive thoughts.
As with obsessions, compulsions typically have themes, such as:
- Washing and cleaning
- Demanding reassurances
- Performing the same action repeatedly
Compulsion symptoms and signs may include:
- Hand washing until your skin becomes raw
- Checking doors repeatedly to make sure they’re locked
- Checking the stove repeatedly to make sure it’s off
- Counting in certain patterns
- Arranging your canned goods to face the same way
Symptoms usually begin gradually and tend to vary in severity throughout your life. Symptoms generally worsen during times when you’re experiencing more stress.
OCD is treatable and Dr. Quintal & Associates are trained in the treatment of OCD. For more information or to make an appointment for OCD Treatment, please call us today at (941) 907-0525 or schedule a free phone consultation.