Common, and Not So Common, Signs of OCD
Mental health issues are difficult enough to understand without them entering the mainstream and becoming part of our vernacular. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a prime example, entering our vocabulary as a verb or adjective to describe people who may be nothing more than slightly more fastidious than others.
In truth, OCD is a complex mental health issue classified as an anxiety disorder and affects about 2.5 million people in the United States.
To help separate truth from fiction when it comes to OCD, our team of mental health experts here at Amavi Integrative Mental Wellness pulled together the following information about the many ways the issue can present itself.
The two sides to OCD
In basic terms, there are two components to OCD — obsession and compulsion. Obsession describes the intrusive and recurring thoughts and ideas that occupy a person’s brain.
Compulsion is when a person acts out on the obsessive thoughts to find release, which often leads to repetitive behaviors.
For people with OCD, these behaviors are rigid, and they can experience significant distress if their behaviors are disrupted. To drive this point home, anyone can have ongoing obsessions or exhibit repetitive behaviors, but the person with OCD is unable to function normally because of these excessive thoughts and irrational behaviors.
What OCD looks like
Making matters more complicated, OCD can present itself in many ways. The classic examples are people who wash their hands with great frequency because of an irrational fear of germs and getting sick. Or, the person who goes back to the house several times to make sure that the stove is turned off because they assume the worst — a house fire.
What we don’t see in these examples is what goes on inside the person’s head that drives them to these behaviors. OCD starts with intrusive thoughts and, more often than not, the catastrophic results of these fears and thoughts — house burning down, becoming sick, incurring injury, etc.
While frequent cleaning, organizing, and checking are common signs of OCD, the anxiety disorder can also present in very subtle ways. For example, a person with OCD may have distressing thoughts, and they count silently to quiet the racing thoughts. This type of OCD is called pure obsessional, and it can be difficult to identify since everything takes place in the person’s head.
Seeking help for OCD
Since OCD can manifest itself in many ways, it’s essential to seek professional help if you’re concerned about yourself or a loved one.
Our criteria for seeking help is simple — if the issue is disrupting your life and preventing you from being happy and productive, it’s worth having us take a look.
If, after an extensive assessment, we find that you meet the criteria for OCD, we can get you started on a treatment plan that will help you reclaim your life.
For expert diagnosis and treatment of OCD, please schedule an appointment at our office in Niwot, Colorado, which also serves the Boulder and Longmont areas.