Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a severe form of anxiety where you have distressing thoughts or fears that lead to repetitive behavior. Usually, people with OCD realize that these obsessions and compulsions are unreasonable but are unable to stop them. Symptoms of OCD typically revolve around certain themes. One example could be feeling afraid of being contaminated by germs. In order to ease the fear or concern about germs, you may feel compelled to wash excessively in an effort to relieve this stress. This becomes a vicious cycle that can start to rule your life.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 2.2 million Americans have obsessive-compulsive disorder. Symptoms of OCD has been found in both children and adults. Obsessive-compulsive disorder symptoms include repeated, persistent and unwanted ideas, thoughts, images or impulses that are involuntarily. These obsessions typically intrude when you are trying to do something else or think about other things.
The following are symptoms of obsessions and compulsions:
- Recurrent and persistent thoughts, impulses, or images that are intrusive and that cause a great deal of anxiety or distress.
- You attempt to ignore or suppress these thoughts, impulses, or images or neutralize tham with another thought or action.
- You recognize that these obsessions are a product of your own mind.
- Repetitive behaviors (such as hand washing, ordering, or checking things) or mental acts (such as praying, counting, or repeating words silently) that you feel driven to perform in response to an obsession.
- These behaviors or mental acts are aimed at preventing or reducing distress or some dreaded event or situation.
The final symptom of OCD is that at some point you recognize that these obsessions or compulsions are excessive or unreasonable in some way. Obsessive-compulsive disorder can be debilitating as it may take up all your time, limiting your day to day activities and relationships.
If obsessions or compulsions are affecting your life, it’s important to seek help. Talking with your doctor or beginning psychotherapy can be a great first step in alleviating the stress of these disabling symptoms and getting back to your life.