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Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

What is OCD?

Over 2.2 million Americans suffer from OCD.

An individual who suffers from OCD tends to have uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts, and behaviors in which they feel the urge and need to continuously engage in and repeat over and over. It is important to note that OCD is a type of anxiety disorder. Individuals who have OCD tend to have symptoms of obsessions, compulsions or both and as a result, they may interfere with their daily life and their ability to complete tasks.

Obsession Symptoms (repeated thoughts, urges, or mental images that create anxiety for an individual):

  • Fears germs or contamination
  • Feel the need to have things in a perfect order or symmetrical
  • Aggressive thoughts towards themselves or others
  • Unwanted forbidden or taboo though (i.e. sex, religion, or harm)
  • Constant worry about getting hurt or other getting hurt
  • Tend to belief that certain number or colors are “good” and “bad”
  • Individuals are constantly aware of blinking, breathing or other body sensations

Compulsion Symptoms (behaviors that a person with OCD will then feel the urge to do in response to an obsessive thought):

  • Excessive cleaning/handwashing
  • Ordering & arranging things in a particular and precise way
  • They tend to repeatedly check on things (i.e. checking if the door is locked)
  • Compulsive counting (i.e. the number of steps they take)
  • Person with OCD cannot control their thoughts or behaviors
  • Can be afraid of touching doorknobs, public toilets or shaking hands
  • Spends at least an hour a day on these thoughts
  • After completing such behavior, they still don’t feel pleasure, but rather a relief in their anxiety for a small period of time and may them feel the urge to do the task again

What causes OCD?

The causes remain unknown, but there are risk factors that can play a role on the development of such disorder.

Risk factors include:

  • Genetics
    • Individuals who have a first-degree relative (i.e. parent or sibling) with OCD, will have a higher chance of suffering from OCD
  • Brain Structure & Functioning
  • Environment
    • Individuals who may have experienced abuse (physical or sexual) in childhood or any other trauma are at a higher risk of developing OCD

How can OCD be treated?

  • Medication
  • Psychotherapy
  • Combination of both

How do I help myself or someone I know cope with OCD?

  • Educate yourself on the subject
  • Be patient; remember everyone has a different rate when recovering
  • Stay on the lookout for the signs such as
    • Avoidance
    • An increase in irritability & indecisiveness
    • Perpetual tardiness
    • Consent questioning about themselves
    • An increase in concern for things
    • Severe & extreme reactions to the smallest things
    • Tasks begin to take longer than usual
    • Their daily life becoming a struggle
    • Staying up late in order to get things done
  • Plan your daily tasks & stay busy
  • Staying organized can help you to better cope with the condition
  • Set recovery goals
  • Find your healthy habits and hobbies