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OCD Basics

Mental health can be a stigmatized topic to talk about, but I make sure my clients know that they should not feel ashamed of what they are going through, and that I can help them learn coping mechanisms and techniques to understand and overcome their condition.

Many people have come to me over the years asking about unreasonable thoughts and fears they’ve been unable to get rid of.  If these thoughts and fears lead them to do repetitive behaviors, I begin talking to them about Obsessive-compulsive disorder, widely known as OCD.  When someone suffers from OCD, their obsessions and compulsions interfere with their daily lives and can cause deep distress, especially when they try to ignore and stop the obsessions and compulsions.  It’s important to note that more than one in every fifty people suffer from OCD, that’s over 2% of the world population, so this condition is more common than one might think.  However, it may present itself in a variety of different ways. 

While OCD may include both obsessions and compulsions, it is also possible to experience only one of these symptoms.  Both obsessions and compulsions generally have themes, such as a fear of contamination (obsession) and washing and cleaning (compulsion).  This is a classic example of OCD, and one I have seen quite often.  An obsessive fear of being contaminated by touching an object others have touched often manifests itself in compulsive hand washing until the skin is raw. Obsessions can range from needing things to be symmetrical to unwanted aggressive or sexual thoughts.  There is no limit to the range of compulsions someone might experience along with their obsessions, as many people make up unique rituals that they need to perform in order to help calm the anxiety related to their obsessions. 

OCD generally begins during the teenage or young adult years, and can vary in severity throughout one’s life. If you are wondering whether or not you might be experiencing OCD, think about whether or not your worries are interfering with your quality of life.  There’s a different between simply worrying about things going on in your life and experiencing unavoidable obsessions and compulsions.  The good news is that there are empirically validated treatments that are highly effective in treating OCD, which include both psychotherapy and medication.  Many members of our staff are well qualified to help you with this condition, should you suffer from it.