OCD and Me

How Will I Know if I have ocd?

A trained therapist will look for three things to diagnose OCD:

  • The person has obsessions.
  • He or she does compulsive behaviors.
  • The obsessions and compulsions take a lot of time and get in the way of important activities the person values ( working, going to school, spending time with friends or family, etc.)

Obsessions:

  • Thoughts, images, or impulses that occur over and over again and feel out of the person’s control.
  • The person does not want to have these ideas.
  • He or she  finds them disturbing and unwanted, and usually knows that they don’t make sense.
  • They come with uncomfortable feelings, such as fear, disgust, doubt, or a feeling that things have to be done in a way that is “just right.”
  • They take a lot of time and get in the way of important activities the person values (socializing, working, going to school, etc.).What Obsessions are not…

It is normal to have occasional thoughts about getting sick or about the safety of loved ones.

Compulsions:

  • Repetitive behaviors or thoughts that a person engages in to neutralize, counteract, or make their obsessions go away.
  • People with OCD realize this is only a temporary solution,but without a better way to cope they rely on the compulsion as a temporary escape.
  • Can also include avoiding situations that trigger their obsessions.
  • Time consuming and get in the way of important activities the person values (socializing, working, going to school, etc.).What Compulsions are not…
  • Not all repetitive behaviors or “rituals” are compulsions. Bedtime routines, religious practices, and learning a new skill involve repeating an activity over and over again, but are a welcome part of daily life.
  • Behaviors depend on the context:Arranging and ordering DVDs  for eight hours a day isn’t a compulsion if the person works in a video store.

Common Obsessions in OCD

  • Contamination Harm
  • Body fluids
    (examples: urine, feces)
  • Germs/disease (examples: herpes, HIV)
  • Environmental contaminants (examples: asbestos, radiation)
  • Household chemicals (examples: cleaners, solvents)
  • Dirt

Losing Control

  • Fear of acting on an impulse to harm oneself
  • Fear of acting on an impulse to harm others
  • Fear of violent or horri c images in one’s mind
  • Fear of yelling out insults or swearing
  • Fear of stealing things

Perfectionism

  • Concern about evenness or exactness
  • Concern with a need to know or remember
  • Fear of losing or forgetting important information when throwing out something
  • Unable to decide whether to keep or to discard things
  • Fear of losing things
  • Fear of being responsible for something terrible happening (examples: re, burglary)
  • Fear of harming others because of not being careful enough (example: dropping something on the ground that someone might slip on and hurt themselves)

Unwanted Sexual Thoughts

  • Forbidden or perverse sexual thoughts or images
  • Forbidden or perverse sexual impulses about others
  • Obsessions about homosexuality
  • Sexual obsessions that involve children or incest
  • Obsessions about aggressive sexual behavior towards others

Religious Obsessions (also called Scrupulosity)

  • Concern with offending God or blasphemy.
  • Excessive concern with right/wrong or morality.

Other Obsessions

  • Concern with getting a physical illness or disease (not by contamination e.g., cancer)
  • Superstitious ideas about lucky/ unlucky numbers, certain colors

Common Compulsions in OCD

Washing and Cleaning

  • Washing your hands too much or in a certain way
  • Excessive showering, bathing, tooth brushing, grooming or toilet routines
  • Cleaning household items or other objects too much
  • Doing other things to prevent or remove contact with contaminants

Checking

  • Checking that you did not/will not harm others
  • Checking that you did not/will not harm yourself
  • Checking that nothing terrible happened
  • Checking that you did not make a mistake
  • Checking some parts of your physical condition or body

Repeating

  • Rereading or rewriting
  • Repeating routineactivities (examples: going in or out doors, getting up or down from chairs)
  • Repeating body movements (example: tapping, touching, blinking)
  • Repeating activitiesin“multiples” (examples: doing a task three times because three is a “good”, “right”, “safe” number)

Mental Compulsions

  • Mental review of events to prevent harm
    (to oneself, others, to prevent terrible consequences)
  • Praying to prevent harm
    (to oneself, others, to prevent terrible consequences)
  • Counting while performing a task to end on a “good”, “right”, or “safe” number
  • “Cancelling Out” or “Undoing” (example: replacing a “bad” word with a “good” word to cancel it out)

Other Compulsions

  • Collecting items which results in signi cant clutter in the home (also called hoarding)
  • Putting things in order
    or arranging things until it “feels right”
  • Telling, asking, or confessing to get reassurance
  • Avoiding situations that might trigger your obsessions

What are common obstacles to effective treatment?

  • Some people choose to hide their symptoms, often in fear of embarrassment or stigma. Therefore, many people with OCD do not seek the help of a mental health professional until many years after the onset of symptoms. Studies find that it takes an average of 14 to 17 years from the time OCD begins for people to obtain appropriate treatment.
  • Until recently, there was less public awareness of OCD, so many people were unaware that their symptoms represented an illness that could be treated.
  • Help is available . If you’d like help reach out to a licensed mental health professional experienced in treating  OCD.

 

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