What Most People Don't Understand About OCD

What Most People Don't Understand About OCD

There are many issues when it comes to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), not the least of which is the amount of misinformation floating around about the condition. This anxiety disorder, which affects up to 2% of people in the United States at some point in their lives, is incredibly complex, and we want to do our part to shed some light.

At the Institute for Advanced Psychiatry, Dr. Diana Ghelber and the experienced mental health team have extensive experience with OCD, and we understand the myriad ways in which it can manifest itself.

In the following, we take a deeper dive into OCD with the hopes of dispelling some of the misinformation and to clear the way forward for treatment.

Understanding obsession

It can be difficult when a word enters our everyday language and is used to the point where it loses much of its intended meaning. This is certainly the case with obsession. For example, we can become “obsessed” with a TV show or a new flavor of ice cream.

The obsession that comes with OCD is a very different, and much darker, beast. With OCD, your obsession comes in the form of intrusive, and most unwanted, thoughts that invade your thinking. In addition to invading thoughts, you may experience intruding images or extremely strong urges that you’re unable to suppress or control.

For example, let’s take a look at a common obsession — germs. In your mind, you may see nothing but germs everywhere you look, and you may even see images of yourself sick or infected. 

Or, perhaps you’re obsessed about whether you’ve turned off your iron or stove, and images of a disastrous fire at your house flood your mind.

These are some of the more common obsessions, but they are not the only ones. Other obsessions include:

Whatever the obsession, it tends to dominate your brain and create a world of anxiety.

Understanding compulsion

When you have obsessive and uncontrollable thoughts and urges, you look for a way to release this extreme anxiety, which is where compulsion comes in.

Getting back to our example about germaphobia, people may incessantly wash their hands as a way to appease the obsession. Or, you may return to your house repeatedly to ensure the stove is off and that the doors are locked so that you can put the doomsday thoughts about fires and break-ins to rest.

Like obsession, OCD has also crept into our vernacular to describe someone who’s very orderly or neat. Preferring to have things organized is much different than an obsession and compulsion to have things spaced out or facing in a certain direction. These actions are a way in which someone with OCD attempts to control their world because, when things aren’t ordered or spaced correctly, bad things can happen.

You may not see compulsion

Another point we want to make about OCD is that you can have obsession without outward compulsion. Instead, the obsession and compulsion both take place in your mind. A good example of this is when you have obsessive thoughts about religion and sinning and you silently pray, over and over.

OCD disrupts your life

While we may all have fixations and we might act compulsively from time to time, having OCD can disrupt your life, preventing you from functioning normally. The thoughts and actions that often come with OCD dominate your world, rendering you unable to work or socialize comfortably.

Getting help

Our final point about OCD is that there is hope. This is an extreme anxiety disorder, and we can use medications, psychotherapy, and transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy to help break the cycle of your OCD.

If you’d like to learn more about OCD and your treatment options, contact one of our offices in Granbury or Fort Worth, Texas, to set up a consultation.

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