Counseling & Psychotherapy - Southampton, NJ 08088
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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
OCD


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Information About Treating Obsessive Compulsive Disorder - OCD


People with obsessive-compulsive disorder have obsessions (recurrent, intrusive thoughts, mental pictures, ideas, or impulses that cause excessive anxiety or worry), compulsions (mental acts or repetitive behaviors that are performed in response to obsessions to neutralize anxiety or worry), or both. Most people with obsessive-compulsive disorder suffer from both obsessions and compulsions.

Some common obsessions are:

· Contamination (e.g., fear of dirt or germs; getting a disease)
·
Hoarding, Saving, Collecting
· Ordering (e.g., concern with symmetry and exactness)
· Aggressive (e.g., fear of hurting or killing someone, often a loved one)

Some common compulsions--also called "rituals"--are:

· Cleaning and Washing (e.g., washing hands, clothing, bedding, or showering many times a day)
· Checking (e.g., checking a door repeatedly to make sure it is locked)
· Repeating (e.g., always turning a light switch on and off 20 times), Counting (e.g., repeatedly counting one's silverware to make sure all the pieces are there),
Ordering (e.g., ordering and arranging items in a certain, "exact" way).
· Hoarding, Saving, and Collecting

Although most people can identify with many of these forms of OCD to some extent, the obsessions of OCD usually have a specific onset, produce significant discomfort and result in a powerful, overwhelming urge to lessen or neutralize them. Obsessive-compulsive disorder is characterized by obsessions and/or compulsions that are distressing, time-consuming, and/or interfere with normal routines, interpersonal relationships or daily functioning. People with OCD are aware, at least at times, that their obsessions and compulsions are not completely realistic and do not make sense, but they find themselves unable to stop.

OCD can be a debilitating disorder. Some people feel compelled to perform rituals for hours at a time, which often interfere with their ability to fulfill work, parenting, or other social roles. Many people with OCD avoid situations that provoke obsessive thoughts, and some become homebound. Often people with OCD involve other family members in their compulsive behaviors; for example, a mother may have her children engage in elaborate washing rituals before they are allowed to enter the house.

People with OCD are typically ashamed and secretive about their obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors, and many are successful in hiding their condition from others for years. They may fear they will be laughed at, that people will think they're "odd" or "crazy," or that they will be "locked up" in a mental institution." In addition, people with OCD are frequently unaware that their symptoms are part of a recognizable and treatable clinical condition. For these reasons, the average time between onset of symptoms and seeking professional help is 7.5 years.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a common problem. More than 8 million people in the US can suffer from OCD during any given year. It is estimated that 1 in 40 people will have OCD at some point during his or her life.

The exact causes of OCD are unknown. Genes play a role; however, genes alone do not explain OCD. Learning and life stress also appear to contribute to the disorder.