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Building blocks with the letters OCD

If your mental process involves fears, repetitive behavior, or unwanted thoughts daily, you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder, particularly one known as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). For anyone experiencing OCD, the obsession and compulsion symptoms begin to interfere with daily life and the stress builds. Thankfully, treatment is available.

IS IT AN ANXIETY DISORDER?

If you or someone you know experiences bouts of worry, anxiety, or fear which has taken control of daily life, these may be signs of an anxiety disorder. Only a trained mental health professional can offer a diagnosis, but one kind of mental illness to be aware of is obsessive-compulsive disorder. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, OCD is one of five major kinds of anxiety disorders that anyone can get.

WHO GETS IT?

According to the International OCD Foundation, the condition “equally affects men, women, and children of all races, ethnicities, and backgrounds.” It mostly appears during two periods in someone’s life: Between 8 and 12-years of age, and between a person’s late-teen years and early adulthood.

Risk factors for obsessive-compulsive disorder include your family history amongst blood relatives, the occurrence of stressful life events (death of a loved one), and the onset of other mental health disorders like depression.

IS OCD CONTAGIOUS?

Many people who have the disorder sometimes obsess about what they can do to make it go away, how they got it, and what the future holds. Those are all valid concerns, but the path to controlling OCD symptoms may lie in the fact that it’s not contagious and you can’t spread it. It’s not a cold or coronavirus which can be contained. It’s not directly caused by childhood experiences or on-the-job pressure.

WHAT DOES OCD STAND FOR?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a type of anxiety disorder affecting millions of people. If you insist on putting away groceries a certain way, clean your desk before leaving work, or make sure you buy three-button polo shirts, someone may say you’re OCD – but that isn’t necessarily true. You may be a perfectionist, but if your habits morph into something else and take control of your life, then you might suspect you’re OCD. But knowing if you or someone you love has the disorder means knowing what to look for. The disorder has both obsessive and compulsive symptoms which could inform diagnosis and treatment.

Obsession is characterized by themes of fear, doubt, and unwarranted thoughts. Symptoms may include:

  • Fear of contamination after touching something that someone else has touched
  • Doubts about locking doors or general safety
  • You become stressed if something isn’t arranged orderly or is facing the wrong way
  • You may think about yelling foul words or misbehaving in public
  • Avoiding things that can trigger obsessions, like making eye contact with someone

Compulsion is characterized by themes of washing, checking, counting, and orderliness. Symptoms may include:

  • Repeated hand washing until it’s painful
  • Checking doors constantly to ensure they’re secured
  • Verifying multiple times that the kitchen stove is off
  • Counting in particular forms
  • Quietly saying a prayer, word, or expression
  • Making sure canned goods are stacked the same way

Thankfully, many of the symptoms are treatable with ketamine infusion.

DIAGNOSIS & TREATMENT

OCD diagnosis may include:

  • A psychological assessment. This means relaying your behavior patterns, feelings, thoughts, and symptoms to establish if you possess obsessions or compulsive behaviors that restrict your quality of life. If permitted, your doctor may talk to your family or friends.
  • Looking at the diagnostic criteria for the condition. Your doctor may refer to OCD criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) from the American Psychiatric Association.
  • A physical examination. This may be needed to help uncover and dismiss other problems which could be triggering your symptoms and to look for the presence of related complications.

The two main treatments for OCD are talk or psychotherapy and certain medicines as recommended by your doctor or mental healthcare provider. A newer option growing in popularity is the use of ketamine therapy to quickly reduce symptoms and with few negative side effects. 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a serious form of anxiety that affects millions of people in the U.S. It’s more than living life as a perfectionist or having to have things “just so.” It’s a condition rife with fear, unwanted thoughts, and a need to do certain things a specific way – all the time, every day – and it can interfere with daily living. Contact us today to learn how our treatments may be able to help you find relief.

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