Yes, OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) is considered an anxiety disorder. It is a mental health condition that causes someone to experience unwanted and intrusive thoughts, images, or urges (known as ‘obsessions’) and to feel compelled to do certain activities over and over again (known as ‘compulsions’). People with obsessive-compulsive disorder may also struggle with perfectionism, doubts about the future, fear of making mistakes, and a need for order or symmetry.
How OCD can affect your daily life?
OCD can interfere with daily life so severely that people with OCD may have difficulty at work or school, in relationships, and in completing everyday tasks. The symptoms of OCD are time-consuming and can take up several hours of the day. In order to cope with the obsessions they are experiencing, individuals will often engage in compulsions such as washing their hands repeatedly until they feel “clean enough,” checking things multiple times to make sure nothing bad will happen, or counting items repeatedly until it feels “right.” People with OCD often report feeling like they are stuck in an endless cycle of obsessions and compulsions that can be very distressing and exhausting.
The cause of OCD is not fully understood but there are many factors believed to contribute including genetic predisposition, family history of mental illness, environmental factors such as childhood trauma or poor coping skills, social pressures, and cultural influences. Studies suggest that serotonin (a neurotransmitter involved in mood regulation) could play a role in contributing to OCD symptoms. Treatment typically involves cognitive behavioral therapy which helps individuals manage their symptoms by addressing irrational thought patterns while learning how to tolerate distress without resorting to compulsive behavior. Medication may also be used along with psychotherapy if needed.
Some common symptoms of OCD may include:
- Recurrent and persistent thoughts, impulses, or images that are experienced as intrusive and unwanted
- Compulsive behaviors or mental acts that are performed to reduce anxiety or distress
- Distress or anxiety caused by obsessions or compulsions
- Difficulty controlling the obsessions or compulsions
- A significant amount of time is spent on obsessions and compulsions
- Impairment in daily functioning
How Is OCD Treated?
OCD is typically treated with a combination of medications and psychotherapy. Medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are commonly used to reduce the symptoms of OCD. They work by increasing serotonin levels in the brain which can help lessen anxiety, reduce obsessions and provide relief from compulsive behaviors. Antidepressants such as clomipramine may also be used to reduce symptoms of OCD, although they can have more side effects than SSRIs.
Psychotherapy is also an important component of treatment for people with OCD. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the most commonly used form of therapy for those suffering from OCD and involves focusing on changing patterns of thinking and behavior that contribute to obsessive thoughts and compulsive rituals. CBT helps individuals learn how to recognize and modify unhelpful thought patterns, challenge irrational beliefs and manage their symptoms in healthy ways without resorting to compulsive behaviors. Exposure Response Prevention (ERP) therapy is another type of CBT that helps people confront their fears gradually in order to become desensitized to them over time.
Other treatments for OCD include Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT), mindfulness-based therapies such as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) or Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), hypnotherapy, biofeedback, cognitive remediation therapy, and psychodynamic therapy. In some cases, Electroconvulsive therapy may be recommended when other treatments do not provide relief from severe symptoms.
While there is no cure for OCD, treatment can help manage its symptoms so that those affected can lead more productive lives free from the distress caused by this disorder. It is important to seek professional help if you think you may have OCD so that an appropriate treatment plan can be created for you.
Overall, if you suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder it is important to remember that help is available. By seeking treatment you can learn how to manage your symptoms and live a fulfilling life free from anxiety caused by this disorder.