Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, commonly known as OCD, affects 2.3% of the U.S. adult population at some point during their lives. Most people with OCD experience intermittent episodes of compulsion, obsessions, and ritual behavior over periods of a few months to over a year, with an estimated 1.2% of the population experiencing OCD at any given time. In some cases, OCD can be chronic in that it mostly never goes away. In others, it can be intermittent, vanishing for months or even years before resurfacing. But, in all its forms, OCD heavily impacts the life and quality of life of individuals struggling with it. At the same time, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is poorly understood by the general public, leading many to fail to seek out treatment.

Even when people are aware that their behavior doesn’t make sense, they often see nothing out of the ordinary from their own patterns.

About 50.6% of OCD patients experience significant impairment because of their disorder, 34.8% experience moderate impairment, and 14.6% experience symptoms at a level where they only mildly impact daily life. OCD can cause significant stress, distress, and waste time. Seeking treatment can greatly improve quality of life, reduce symptoms, and allow you or your loved one to live a normal, healthy life.

If you or a loved one is struggling with OCD, there is help. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Treatment involves targeted prescription medication, psychotherapy, counseling, which can help to resolve compulsions and obsessions, improve quality of life, and restore normalcy.

Common Symptoms of OCD

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is characterized by intrusive thoughts, obsessive behaviors, and routines or obsessive patterns of behavior. While there are many types of OCD, most individuals show roughly the same types of symptoms:

Obsessions – Repeated or intrusive thoughts which often cause anxiety and stress. These might include thoughts, urges, or mental images. Some examples include fear or germs, intrusive thoughts about harm, self-harm, or sex, aggressive thoughts relating to the self, a need for symmetry or perfect order.

Compulsions – Compulsions are compulsive behaviors and Routines or series of behaviors, in which the individual feels compelled to do something and is unable to stop. If interrupted during a routine, the person may feel compelled to start from the beginning in order to complete all the steps in order. Compulsions are typically intensely stressful and may take up a considerable amount of time and energy on the part of the individual. Common examples include compulsive hand washing, ordering things in a precise way, compulsively counting, repeatedly checking if things are correct, etc.

Routines – Routines are compulsions which must be completed in a specific order, such as wash right side of face, wash left side of face, dry face. When interrupted, most people with OCD will start the routine over. In some cases, routines overlap with counting, where the routine must be performed a certain number of times. E.G., the individual must turn the light switch off 5 times and then check to be sure the oven is off 5 times, and then lock the door 5 times.

Tics – Tics are less common but still found in OCD patients. Here, the individual experiences quick, brief, repetitive movements. This might include eye blinking, twitching, muscles jumping, or hand movements.

OCD can manifest in different ways; in some cases, those different ways are called “Types”.

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Common Types of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

While Obsessive Compulsive Disorder can fall into other types, there are four primary Types.

Checking – The individual compulsively and repeatedly checks to be sure things are off, okay, or healthy. This might include checking locks and locking and unlocking the door to ensure it’s locked checking the oven, checking light switches, or checking up on one’s own health.

Contamination – An unreasonable fear of physical or mental contamination, typically resulting in refusal to touch things, irrational cleanliness, compulsive cleaning, and avoidance.

Symmetry and Ordering

Individuals feel an excessive need to create symmetry or order, typically resulting in organizing and reorganizing items.

Rumination/Intrusive Thoughts

Obsessive and disturbing intrusive thoughts, outside of the user’s control and causing significant distress. These are often violent and/or sexual.

In many cases, users will experience more than one type. In others, you will fall completely into a single Type.

Diagnosing Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Many people struggle with compulsions, but obsessive-compulsive disorder takes up a significant portion of your time and day. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual  5 defines OCD when:

The individual cannot control thoughts or behaviors, even when able to recognize that these thoughts or behaviors are abnormal or intrusive.

The individual spends at least one hour per day on obsessions and compulsions or the compulsions cause clinically significant distress and social, occupational, or functional impairment.

Compulsions and Rituals are not pleasurable. The individual may feel a brief relief of associated anxiety. However, compulsions are not realistically connected to what they are designed to prevent or are excessive.

Rituals must be followed rigidly. Any break in the pattern means starting over and significant emotional or mental distress.

The individual may believe their obsessions and compulsions are rational and fair, they may realize they are sometimes over the top, or they may cause significant distress as the individual realized they are irrational but is compelled to do them anyway.

Most cases of OCD are diagnosed before the age of 19, but it is not unheard of to be diagnosed after the age of 35. However, diagnosis will involve a thorough review of current and past medical conditions to ensure that the symptoms cannot be better explained by another condition.

Prescription Medicine for OCD

gooden-center-prescription-drug-addiction-photo-of-smiling-doctor-with-clipboard-and-young-man-patient-meeting-at-hospitalPrescription medication is the primary treatment option for obsessive compulsive disorder. In most cases, prescription medications include a drug-class known as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors or SSRI’s. These drugs typically take 8-12 weeks to begin functioning. In some cases, your doctor will also recommend anti-psychotic medications to supplement SSRIs.

  • citalopram
  • escitalopram
  • fluoxetine
  • fluvoxamine
  • sertraline
  • aripiprazole
  • risperidone

Psychotherapy and Counseling for OCD

Psychotherapy is typically recommended as a complementary therapy to be delivered alongside prescription medication. In some cases, it is also recommended instead of prescription medication or when prescription medications have failed. Here, behavioral therapies such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Habit Reversal Training are the most common.

Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) – ERP is a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy designed to expose the individual to a trigger to create stress and trigger a behavior, and then re-train the response to that trigger. This is proven effective in reducing compulsive behavior and is sometimes considered the most effective treatment for OCD.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Treatment Centers

If you or a loved one is struggling with obsessive thoughts and compulsive behavior, it’s important to get help. OCD can significantly impact your quality of life, relationships and your ability to work or study. Most importantly, there are treatments that will reduce the impact of OCD on your life, so that you can return to a healthy state. In most cases, your doctor will recommend a prescription medication, followed by intensive CBT. OCD treatment is delivered in outpatient and inpatient or residential settings.

OCD is complex, life-changing, and may flare up or remain a constant throughout your life. In either case, seeking treatment, learning behavioral techniques to offset compulsive behavior, and getting OCD under control will improve your life.

Get help today and start a new life.

CALL 800-931-9884