Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a mental disorder that can cause problems in your relationships and work life. The obsessive and intrusive thoughts create routines and behaviors that can create anxiety and perpetuate fear.
Knowing the signs of OCD is the first step in identifying the type of OCD you have developed. A therapist can assess your symptoms and behaviors and help you create a managed care plan to slowly reframe your thoughts and emotions and change the resulting behavior.
Different types of OCD.
There are different types of OCD:
- Intrusive thoughts
These categories differentiate the behaviors commonly seen in clients. Sometimes a client can have negative or obsessive thoughts and never act on them, such as seen with people who imagine harming a loved one.
Other people do not recognize the thoughts leading to a specific action, like aligning cans and products in the kitchen pantry. They know that they must have these items facing them and in a particular order.
However, often people with signs of OCD recognize the thoughts and feel anxious. They relieve this anxiety by performing an action. This only reduces the fear for a brief moment until the thoughts return or something triggers the cycle.
The signs of OCD.
When people think of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, they may picture a well-known fictional detective from cable television who seems to embody all the signs of OCD. Unfortunately, although his story was entertaining, you can develop different types of OCD, which can change over time.
For example, in your twenties, you might realize you are struggling with double-checking things like locking your doors and turning off appliances. You may even go back home to reaffirm that you did unplug the toaster.Then, the pandemic hit while you were in your thirties, and now you fear contamination by viruses and bacteria. A new fear has crept into your mind, one of becoming deathly ill or infecting a loved one. Now, you overuse hand sanitizer and constantly clean every surface of your home and car multiple times a day.
Although you may still do some ordering in your home, your new focus is on controlling your exposure to germs. For some people, these various types compound and create more of an issue in their relationships and work.
Are you displaying any of the types of OCD below?
The pandemic triggered the contamination type of OCD in many people. Suddenly it was imperative that you not only wash your hands and keep a clean environment, but you had to sanitize and wear a mask (and, in some cases, gloves) to avoid getting sick or infecting loved ones with what could be a deadly virus.
The contamination type of OCD isolates people and creates distress during public outings or social events. For example, even shopping at the grocery store or waiting to see the doctor for an appointment can cause anxiety and panic attacks.
To feel better, the person may need to leave the public spot and head for someplace that feels safe, such as their home. They will spend time sanitizing and washing their hands, body, and any surfaces that could have come into contact. For example, they may sanitize ink pens, remote controls, or the steering wheel of their car.
These routines take time while the fear keeps the family member home and not engaging with their loved ones on outings. They may insist their family members follow the protocol and routines established to keep everyone safe.
Checking on things and doubting yourself to the point that it interferes with your life is another type of OCD. This sign may cause you to check your hot water tank every time you walk into the basement. Or you must double-check all the doors and windows three times before bed.
This compulsion can also make you turn the car around on your way to work to ensure that you lock the door. You may worry about leaving a small appliance or heater on and causing a fire. The fear may stem from doing something that will hurt you, the people you love, or accidentally destroying property.
These compulsive routines take time. You may also show perfectionism tendencies, redoing anything that you feel is inferior or not precisely how you like it. This can cause problems in relationships if you insist that your loved ones meet a certain standard. In addition, you may lose your job if you miss work or consistently come into work late because of OCD routines.
Following a routine provides temporary relief from anxious thoughts. For example, ordering is part of a routine commonly seen in those with OCD. The person feels compelled to put things in order, count items, or only have a specific number of items and align objects.
You may have a painstaking urge for detail and to make sense of the world. You may not even be aware of the thoughts that precede the compulsive behavior. Do you need to tap objects a specific number of times? These routines can take significant time from your work and family.
Intrusive thoughts can be scary and plant seeds of doubt, guilt, and shame. They may be thoughts of violence or sexual behaviors. The thoughts may be of harming yourself or others. To fight these thoughts and emotions, you may avoid situations and triggers. You may repeat words in your head to help neutralize these frightening thoughts.
People with OCD may ask for reassurance from others and even limit their connections to people they know will compliment them or make them feel better about themselves.
These unwanted thoughts can also lead to behaviors like hoarding. Hoarding is keeping and collecting items that you do not need as a way to reduce anxiety. You may surround yourself with clutter, collectibles, and even trash. Some people hoard animals as part of their OCD, keeping more pets than they can take care of on their own. Hoarding makes it impossible to invite people over or maintain relationships with others.
Therapy for signs of OCD.
The link between thoughts, emotions, and behaviors are at the root of the OCD cycle. This cycle can lead to anxiety, depression, and self-harm. If you are suffering from thoughts of self-harm or suicide, reach out to a therapist immediately.
Anxiety and depression are treatable mental health disorders and often coexist with OCD. Depending on your personalized treatment plan, your therapist may recommend Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Exposure Response Therapy (ERT).
With ERT, you are introduced to the trigger in a controlled environment with your therapist overseeing the session. This allows you a safe space to feel the emotions attached to the trigger or thoughts. If you have more than one type of OCD, the therapist may first choose the easiest to overcome.
As you settle in and face these thoughts and emotions, they become neutral, and eventually, you can disassociate from them. When the thoughts are no longer attached to fear, you will no longer feel compelled to behave a certain way. The act of exposing you to the triggers, real and imagined, will enable you to desensitize yourself from them. ERT makes it easier to work toward the more severe signs of OCD.
Your therapist may suggest one-on-one talk therapy sessions as well as group and family sessions. If you are having trouble in your marriage due to your OCD, you and your spouse can attend couples counseling so that you both are on the same page regarding the mental disorder and recovery.
Is it OCD?
Is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder interfering with your life? Are your routines taking an hour or more a day? Do your thoughts bring a gripping fear and anxiety? Contact our office today to schedule an appointment with a therapist specializing in the signs of OCD. You can change your behaviors and overcome negative thoughts, but it takes time and work. Give us a call or reach out to us today to get started.
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