Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common anxiety disorder that causes unreasonable thoughts, fears or worries. People struggling with OCD typically feel “trapped” in repetitive thoughts and behavioral rituals intended to manage these thoughts. OCD is considered a lifelong disorder, and it can be so severe and time-consuming that it becomes disabling.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Symptoms

Symptoms typically manifest as obsessions or compulsions.

Obsessions are unfounded thoughts, fears or worries, such as a strong fixation with dirt or germs, repeated doubts or a need to have things in a very specific order. They happen often and cause great anxiety.

Reasoning does not help control the obsessions. While you may know that the thoughts are unreasonable and not due to real-life problems, it’s not enough to make the unwanted thoughts go away.

Compulsions are repetitive, ritualized acts, such as repeated hand-washing, checking and rechecking the state of certain objects (ex: that a door is locked or an oven is turned off) or following rigid rules of order in common tasks.

Compulsions are meant to reduce anxiety caused by the obsession(s). Compulsive acts can become excessive, disruptive and time-consuming. They may interfere with daily life and relationships.

Diagnosing Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

In order to get a formal OCD diagnosis, you need to meet the criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) published by the American Psychiatric Association.

General criteria to be diagnosed with OCD include:

  • Having either obsessions or compulsions, or both
  • Obsessions and compulsions are significantly time consuming and interfere with your daily routine, work or social interactions
  • May or may not realize obsessions and compulsions are excessive or unreasonable

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Treatment

Treatment usually includes behavioral therapy, medication or a combination of both. Cognitive behavioral therapy aims to teach people with OCD how to confront their fears and reduce anxiety without performing ritual behaviors. It is also designed to help reduce the exaggerated or catastrophic thinking that people with OCD often have.

Certain medications can help control obsessions and compulsions, particularly antidepressants.

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