Do I Have OCD?
Many of us experience moments of very focused thought or utilize repeated behaviors as a means of navigating segments of life, and even making some of life’s tasks easier. For people suffering with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), those thoughts and routines become so persistent and rigid as to cause distress.
OCD is an anxiety disorder where people have recurring, unwanted thoughts, ideas or sensations (obsessions) that make them feel compelled to do something repetitively (compulsions). The repetitive behaviors, such as hand washing, checking on things or cleaning, can significantly interfere with daily activities and social interactions.
Obsessions are recurrent and persistent thoughts, rising to the point of causing distress. Many who suffer with OCD realize that some of these thoughts which occupy their minds are unreasonable—excessive concerns over contamination or germs, the need for perfect symmetry or exactness, and so on. Still, they persist.
Compulsions are repetitive behaviors or mental acts that a person feels driven to perform in response to an obsession. These behaviors are aimed at reducing distress. Although the compulsion may bring some temporal and measured relief to the worry, the obsession returns and the cycle repeats itself over and over. In the most severe cases, a constant repetition of rituals may fill the day, making a normal routine impossible.
- Spending inordinate amounts of time cleaning to reduce the fear that germs, dirt, or chemicals will contaminate their surroundings.
- Repeating a behavior several times believing they must do so to guard against injury or harm if the repetitions aren’t done.
- Checking, over and over, to ensure something hasn’t been overlooked—forgetting to lock the door or turn off the stove.
- Ordering and arranging objects in a certain order, or in a symmetric fashion.
- Responding to intrusive obsessive thoughts by silently praying or saying phrases to prevent some imagined consequence.
Some 1.2 percent of Americans have OCD. Among adults, slightly more women than men are affected. OCD often begins in childhood, adolescence or early adulthood; the average age symptoms appear is 19 years old.
You’re reading this article asking: Do I have OCD?
Here is a short list of questions to ask consider:
- Do you ever experience repetitive thoughts that cause you anxiety?
- Do you ever fear germs or engage in excessive cleaning?
- Do you experience the need to constantly check on something or arrange things?
- Do you experience intrusive thoughts that are aggressive or about taboo topics?
- Do you struggle to control obsessive thoughts or compulsive behaviors?
- Do you engage in rituals that provide temporary relief to your anxiety, such as counting, checking, or cleaning?
- Do you spend at least one hour a day thinking obsessive thoughts or performing these ritual behaviors?
- Are work life, home life, or relationships affected by your obsessive thinking or ritual behaviors?
With the right help and resources, you can enjoy a life free of these obsessive fears and compulsive responses.