Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a chronic and long-lasting disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions) that they feel the urge to repeat over and over. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, OCD affects about 1.2% of U.S. adults. This disorder can significantly interfere with a person’s daily activities and social interactions.
There are several types of OCD, including checking, contamination, symmetry and ordering, ruminations, and intrusive thoughts. Checking involves the need to check things repeatedly for harm, leaks, damage, or fire. Contamination is a fear of things that might be dirty or a compulsion to clean. Symmetry and ordering involve the need to have things lined up symmetrically or to have things perfect or done perfectly. Ruminations and intrusive thoughts are an obsession with a line of thought, often distressing.
Symptoms of OCD include both obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are repeated, persistent, and unwanted urges or images that cause distress or anxiety. Compulsions are repetitive behaviors that a person with OCD feels the urge to do in response to an obsessive thought. Common compulsions include excessive cleaning and/or handwashing, ordering and arranging things in a particular way, repeatedly checking on things, or compulsive counting. These symptoms can interfere with all aspects of life, such as work, school, and personal relationships. If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, it’s important to seek professional help.
The exact cause of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is not fully understood, but theories include a combination of genetic, neurobiological, behavioral, cognitive, and environmental factors. A family history of OCD can be a potential risk factor, suggesting a genetic component to the disorder. Neurobiological factors involve changes in the brain’s natural chemistry or function. Behavioral theory suggests that people with OCD associate certain objects or situations with fear, leading to the development of obsessions and compulsions.
Diagnosing OCD involves a comprehensive evaluation by a mental health professional. The process usually includes a detailed discussion about the person’s obsessions and compulsions, their frequency, duration, and the distress they cause. The healthcare provider may use diagnostic criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). Diagnosis requires that obsessions and compulsions cause significant distress and interfere with daily life. Treating OCD at Etowah Recovery Center can happen with three different types of care including:
Effective treatment for OCD is available, and many individuals with this disorder benefit significantly from professional care. In Atlanta, several mental health clinics offer evidence-based treatments for OCD, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), exposure and response prevention (ERP), and medication management. These treatments are designed to reduce symptoms, improve quality of life, and help individuals regain control over their thoughts and behaviors. Don’t wait to seek help – reach out to a healthcare provider in Atlanta today to start your journey towards managing OCD.