There are 2.2 million adults that are affected by obsessive-compulsive disorder. This mental health condition has an average age of onset of 19, however, it can first occur in childhood.
There is a cultural concept of OCD that has to do with people being abnormally clean or organized or performing normal habits like double-checking to make sure they’ve locked the front door. However, OCD goes well beyond these types of behaviors. Someone who is diagnosed with OCD has obsessive thoughts that lead them to feel compelled to perform certain actions.
In order to be properly diagnosed with OCD, you need to meet with a qualified mental health professional. However, using an OCD quiz online can help give you a sense of whether or not you might share some of the characteristics of people with obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Are you curious to learn about OCD as a part of taking an OCD self-test? If so, read on while we explore everything you need to know.
What Is OCD?
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health condition. This disorder is characterized by having obsessive thoughts which then lead to compulsive behaviors.
It is common for people to have simple habits or rituals that help them to feel secure. This might mean wearing their lucky sweater on an important day at work or double-checking to make sure they locked their car.
However, OCD goes beyond this type of ritual or habit. A person who is diagnosed with OCD feels that they must act out certain actions or rituals repetitively, even if it isn’t something they consciously want to do. This is true even if doing so makes their lives a lot more complicated.
The “obsessive” in OCD refers to the unwanted thoughts that people diagnosed with this disorder experience. The “compulsive” refers to the excessive and irrational urges they have to perform certain actions.
A person who has OCD might rationally know that both their thoughts and their behaviors don’t make sense. However, they aren’t always able to stop them from occurring.
What Are the Symptoms of OCD?
For a person to be diagnosed with OCD, they typically need to have obsessive thoughts or compulsive behaviors that get in the way of their daily life and last more than an hour each day.
Obsessions are impulses or thoughts that occur repeatedly and are upsetting. It’s common for people to try and suppress or ignore these thoughts. However, they might fear that the thoughts are somehow true.
The suppression of these thoughts can lead to a great deal of anxiety. The individual can then perform compulsive behaviors in order to lessen their experience of anxiety.
Compulsions are repetitive acts that can help to bring brief relief to the anxiety and stress a person is experiencing due to obsessive thoughts. People with OCD often believe that performing these repetitive rituals can help to prevent the occurrence of a bad or negative event.
If you’re looking for a rehabilitation treatment program to help you recover from your mental health condition? You can learn about what sets First Light Recovery apart here.
What Is The Cause of OCD?
Researchers aren’t exactly sure what causes OCD. However, they do believe that it could be caused by specific areas of the brain responding abnormally to serotonin. Serotonin is a brain chemical that is used by certain nerve cells in order to communicate.
It is also thought that genetics could be a contributing factor to OCD. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, there is a roughly 25% chance that an immediate family member will also have OCD if you, your sibling, or your parent does.
There is one type of OCD known as Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcus (PANDAS). This type of OCD looks a lot different than other forms of OCD in children and has to do with the reaction the body has after a streptococcal infection.
If you’re wondering whether or not you have OCD, consider taking our “Do I Have OCD?” quiz. While an online quiz such as this is not a diagnostic tool and should not be used to replace meeting with a mental health professional, it can be a helpful tool.
What Are The Different Types of OCD?
There are a number of different types of OCD. One of the most well-known is having an obsession that involves compulsions of washing and cleaning as related to a fear of contamination. Another well-known type is compulsions of redoing and ordering in relation to obsessions that are related to perfectionism or symmetry.
However, these aren’t the only ways that OCD can manifest itself. A person might have a fear of harming someone else or themself or they might have unwanted and intrusive sexual thoughts. They also might have a fear that they will act impulsively.
Let’s take a deeper look into the different types of OCD.
Symmetry & Ordering
There are a number of symptoms that might pop up with this type of OCD. They include:
It is natural for people without OCD to find symmetry appealing. However, for people with this type of OCD, it becomes a preoccupation.
People with OCD might find that they feel a compulsion to write the exact same number of words on each line of a piece of paper, for example. They also might need to arrange their shoes or clothes in a very specific manner, otherwise, they don’t feel “right.” They also might even avoid areas that have geometric shapes that are symmetrical so they can resist the urge to trace the edges with their eyes.
Cleaning and Contamination
This type of OCD has to do with a fear of contamination. The compulsive behavior that results has to do with cleaning in order to get rid of the contamination. Some of the symptoms include:
People with this type of OCD might be afraid of spreading germs or contracting an illness. They might avoid crowded spaces or wash their hands or their bodies obsessively.
OCD that has to do with forbidden thoughts involves unpleasant and intrusive thoughts. Some of the symptoms include:
Having forbidden thoughts OCD can leave people feeling a deep sense of shame. It is common for them to try and suppress their thoughts. However, it is actually better to allow these thoughts to come to the surface and then work to resist the compulsion that follows.
Hoarding in terms of OCD is different from hoarding disorder. Hoarding disorder is considered a separate mental health disorder. Here are some of the symptoms of this type of OCD:
A person with this type of OCD might live in a space that is completely filled with clutter because they feel unable to discard worn-out or useless possessions.
Different people require different levels of care when it comes to having a mental health disorder. That’s why we offer special programs to suit your needs at First Light Recovery. You can learn more about our programs here.
OCD Treatment Options
The two most common forms of treatment when it comes to OCD are therapy and medication. One of the most commonly recommended approaches is a specific type of cognitive behavioral therapy known as exposure and response prevention. With this type of therapy, the patient is exposed gradually to the things they obsess over or that drive their compulsive behavior.
This allows patients to have a safe space where they can learn how to deal with the discomfort that comes along with obsessive thoughts. In this space, they can learn how to experience these thoughts without following through with compulsive behavior. It isn’t uncommon for therapists to encourage you to also work on some of these skills in other environments in addition to your therapy sessions.
For some people with OCD, their mental healthcare provider might recommend that they visit a psychiatrist to discuss possibilities when it comes to medication. They might prescribe a medication for a short period of time to be used while learning how to cope with symptoms during therapy sessions. Drugs like antidepressants and antipsychotics are known to have some benefits for OCD symptoms.
Are you interested in learning about what we treat at First Light Recovery? You can take a look here.
Are You Wondering If You Have OCD?
If you find yourself struggling with obsessive thoughts or ritualistic compulsions in a way that interferes with your normal life, you will want to visit a mental health professional. However, taking an OCD quiz can help you get a sense of whether or not your circumstances might qualify as OCD.
When people are suffering from a mental health disorder, recovery can be a challenging and disruptive process. At First Light, we offer an understanding, compassionate, and welcoming environment for you to begin your journey to recovery.
Are you interested in learning more about our treatment programs? If so, contact us today!
- Understanding Anxiety: Facts & Statistics. Anxiety and Depression Association of America. https://www.adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/facts-statistics
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. National Alliance on Mental Illness. https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Mental-Health-Conditions/Obsessive-compulsive-Disorder