Do you suffer from intrusive thoughts about imagined events or scenarios that will likely never occur? Do you often worry that something catastrophic will occur as a result of your carelessness? Have you developed rituals, habits, or behavior patterns that relieve your feelings of anxiety? If this is familiar, you may be suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder. OCD is an anxiety disorder in which a person carries out deliberate acts in order to relieve the stress brought on by intrusive, fear-inducing thoughts.
Persons with OCD are plagued by recurring thoughts or fears (obsessions) that cause uncontrollable unease or worry. To combat these thoughts, the sufferer performs repeated small acts (compulsions) that provide temporary relief from anxiety. Obsessions can take many forms, but most often manifest as an excessive or unfounded concern, such as the need for symmetry or extreme self-doubt. Compulsions can range from ritualized cleaning and neurotic over-checking to hoarding and superstitious behavior.
OCD can be extremely disruptive, but thankfully support is available. With the aid of a trained counselor, you can learn to manage the symptoms of OCD. Psychologists today agree that the most effective treatment for OCD involves a technique known as “exposure and response prevention.” In the safe environment of a counseling room, you can confront your fears and learn to resist the desire for compulsive acts. Over time, you will become able to control your thoughts and habits, and will regain a fuller, richer quality of life free from OCD.
OCD can have a detrimental effect on people’s relationships. Persons with OCD tend to be hyper-analytical, obsessing over the details of even the most insignificant of social interactions. Their compulsive tendencies, as well as a continual need for reassurance, can be particularly straining on romantic relationships. However, through counseling, OCD sufferers can learn effective ways to build and maintain healthy relationships. Therapy can also provide compassionate support and education for family, friends, and partners of persons with OCD.
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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is one of the more well-known disorders, made popular, among many other portrayals, by Jack Nicholson in the movie “As Good as it Gets” as Melvin Udall, a misanthropic author with OCD. If you’ve seen the movie, you may recall Melvin turning the lock repeatedly after closing his front door.
As with all mental disorders, it is important not to self-diagnose based on information we have gathered from pop culture or the internet. OCD can cover a broad range of behaviors and thought patterns, and it is perhaps best evaluated in the context of how disruptive or distressing it is in your life. If you are concerned you have any mental disorder, see a mental health professional and get a diagnosis.
The DSM-V Manual defines obsessions as (1) “recurrent and persistent thoughts, urges, or images that are experienced, at some time during the disturbance, as intrusive and unwanted, and that in most individuals cause marked anxiety or distress,” and (2) “The individual attempts to ignore or suppress such thoughts, urges, or images, or to neutralize them with some other thought or action (i.e., by performing a compulsion).”
The manual goes on to define compulsions as:
1. “Repetitive behaviors (e.g., hand washing, ordering, checking) or mental acts (e.g., praying, counting, repeating words silently) that the individual feels driven to perform in response to an obsession or according to rules that...Read More
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder can manifest in a wide variety of forms and intensity specific to the sufferer’s emotional and/or neurological structure, characterized by an experience of feeling stuck in repetitive cycles of thinking and/or behavior.
Over time, these feelings of being unable to change one’s thinking or behavior can cause escalating feelings of anxiety and depression, until life becomes unmanageable. Popularized by movies like As Good As It Gets, Jack Nicolson’s portrayal of a man who has to turn the lock on his door the same number times each time he touches it and can’t step on sidewalk cracks, is actually a pretty narrow view of the condition.
The complexities of this particular diagnosis make it essential to see a mental health professional if you are concerned about the behavior in yourself or a loved one. Because obsessive and compulsive behaviors can be somatic, neurological, or behavioral, it is important to understand the cause in order to find the best treatment. If you have received a diagnosis of OCD from a mental health professional, depending on the severity and causality, it may be treatable by Behavioral Therapy.
In general, Behavioral Therapy (BT) is about using operant conditioning to alter behavior. This is done through structured interventions designed specifically for the patient sometimes using “reward” (positive reinforcement of a behavior), “punishment” (negative reinforcement of a behavior), and “extinction” (abruptly stopping a behavior) as tools to encourage desired behavior and discourage undesired behavior. Treatment...Read More
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is quite common and is estimated to affect over 2% of Americans. It is considered a chronic anxiety disorder that is fueled by obsessions (recurrent intrusive thoughts) and compulsions (repetitive behaviors or rituals).
Individuals suffering from this disorder are generally fully aware that their ruminations and rituals might appear ridiculous to others. Their anxiety compels them to engage in these rituals in rather scrupulous behavior. They are not usually aware why, but trying to stop themselves engaging in compulsive acts tends to evoke significant anxiety.
As a Christian counselor, I have witnessed clients with OCD who feared that failing to perform the ritual(s) would lead to some horrible consequence. A few of my clients felt that they were already responsible for some unfortunate situation that had already happened to them. Recognizing this in my clients made me realize the extent to which they were very exhausted, overwhelmed, and truly suffering.
Throughout history, a number of well-known individuals have suffered from OCD. These include Martin Luther, John Bunyan (Pilgrim’s Progress), Charles Darwin, Samuel Johnson, Howard Hughes, and Katherine Hepburn. We can see that this list includes people who lived successful and passionate lives, although they also suffered. If you identify with OCD you may identify with some of these people.
Some folks who suffer with OCD are plagued by self-doubt and indecisiveness. Others speak of being obsessed or fixated with numbers, time, and/or order. Educators have long known that...Read More