You have a habit of stacking canned goods a certain way, thinking badly of yourself if you don’t, and doing whatever you can to banish negative thoughts. Your friends say you’re “eccentric” or a perfectionist, but such thoughts and behaviors could be early signs of something called obsessive-compulsive disorder.
What Is OCD?
“Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health disorder that affects people of all ages and walks of life and occurs when a person gets caught in a cycle of obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are unwanted, intrusive thoughts, images, or urges that trigger intensely distressing feelings. Compulsions are behaviors an individual engages in to attempt to get rid of the obsessions and/or decrease their distress.”
Many symptoms of OCD can be successfully treated.
What Are The Symptoms?
About six million people in America have OCD. Men and women get it at comparable rates, and it crosses all age groups, from school-aged children to older adults.
Symptoms may include:
- Unwanted or disturbing doubts
- Thoughts about self-harm, infection, intimacy, religion, or health
- Washing, checking, praying, and other ritualistic activities
- Overthinking to overcome unwanted thoughts
You also could be aware of what’s triggering upsetting thoughts and behaviors and avoid them at all costs.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder gets a chapter in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) and is listed beside similar conditions which share analogous symptoms:
- Hoarding disorder. This is where you spend a lot of time arranging things. You don’t see any issues with excessive collecting and may not respond well to traditional OCD treatment.
- Body dysmorphic disorder. This is where you’re obsessed with your own perceived flaws, sad thoughts are extremely time-consuming, and other known mental disorders don’t cause your feelings.
- Body-focused repetitive behaviors. This means you do repetitive behaviors when you’re uncomfortable, such as pulling hair and picking at your skin – often to relieve stress.
- Olfactory reference syndrome. This is a little recognized and often serious illness that is similar to obsessive-compulsive disorder and body dysmorphic disorder. If you suffer from this condition, you may think you smell bad when you really don’t.
Can You Develop OCD Later In Life?
Research has shown that for most people, OCD symptoms first appear when they fall between two age groups: Between 10 and 12 years old and between the late teen years and early adulthood. This isn’t to say it can’t begin earlier or later, but in most cases, it’s unusual for obsessive-compulsive disorder to crop up later in life.
According to a study in the Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, “Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common and potentially disabling illness with onset usually in the second or third decade of life. Onset after age 50 is relatively rare and may be more likely to have an organic etiology. Out of an OCD patient population of over 1,000, the authors found 5 cases in which symptoms of OCD first developed late in life. Four of the five patients had intracerebral lesions in the frontal lobes and caudate nuclei, findings consistent with current theories about the pathogenesis of “idiopathic” OCD.”
In some cases where OCD develops suddenly later in life, research points to a possible culprit: an infection-triggered autoimmune encephalopathy.
Other causes for OCD may be “thinking mistakes” such as:
- Thinking of taking action “is the same as doing it,” or desiring to
- People should manage their thoughts
- Not preventing bad thoughts is just like causing harm
- You’re responsible for harm, regardless of the situations
OCD could be caused by problems with brain structure, faulty neurotransmitters, genetics (inherited from a blood relative), or even pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders linked to streptococcal infections.
Diagnosis & Treatment
Diagnosing OCD or another mental illness normally involves being examined by a medical doctor or psychiatric specialist with the goal of discovering an underlying cause for your condition. In either case, your healthcare provider will look for:
- Signs that you have obsessions.
- Signs that you exhibit compulsive behaviors.
- Signs that the occurrence of either is time-consuming and may interfere with important activities held as important, like holding a job, attending school, or spending time with loved ones.
Once your condition has been diagnosed, the issue becomes what sort of treatment is appropriate for your condition, like ketamine, psychotherapy, or something else.
If you’re one of the millions of Americans who suffer from OCD, don’t let its symptoms rule your daily life. Compulsions, bad thoughts, and ritualistic behavior can lead to serious health problems if ignored, so educate yourself about OCD. Call today for more information about treatment options, like ketamine, for controlling its symptoms.