Obsessive-compulsive disorder, otherwise known as OCD, is a highly misunderstood mental health disorder. The term OCD is often used in a joking manner to describe someone overly concerned about organization or cleanliness. Unfortunately, OCD is a real anxiety disorder, and using the term to describe someone you may find a little different, neurotic, or quirky doesn’t fairly acknowledge the real-life struggles they face.
At Blair Wellness Group in Beverly Hills, we specialize in anxiety disorders of all types including panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, PTSD, and OCD. Obsessive-compulsive disorder is just one anxiety disorder of many, but it affects millions of people all over the world. Whether you live with OCD, or someone close to you has OCD tendencies, it’s helpful to understand the drivers behind compulsive behaviors and that they’re not just something that can be stopped at will.
Understanding Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Most people have at least heard the term “obsessive-compulsive disorder” or OCD, but few really understand what it means. There are two parts to this psychological disorder — obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are intrusive, unwanted, and recurring thoughts that make someone feel driven to do something repetitively. These repetitive acts are also known as compulsions. They are induced by anxiety and performed as many times as necessary to put a stop to the obsession (at least for the time being).
The ritualistic habits required to quell an obsession are not only distressing, but they are also incredibly disruptive to daily life. Those who suffer from OCD usually know that their thoughts and actions don’t make logical sense, but they are unable to stop. This causes even more anxiety that only fuels subsequent compulsive behaviors.
Common Types of OCD
There are many different types of OCD, but the most common forms usually fall into one of five categories.
Ordering: This involves needing to have items lined up or arranged in a certain way. Some examples include arranging everything in your closet by color or needing to have everything in your kitchen drawers perfectly in line.
Checking: With this type of OCD behavior, a person has an intense fear that they may be in danger, and as a result, they are compelled to do things such as check door locks or light switches over and over as a way to ensure their safety.
Contamination: This is an obsession with washing or cleaning. Many people with this form of OCD will wash their hands over and over in an effort to prevent the spread of germs.
Intrusive Thoughts: Some people have unwanted and sometimes violent thoughts that are aggressive in nature. They may be focused on a sexual or religious theme.
Hoarding: Collecting a large number of items that appear to be of little use or value is considered hoarding if those things are taking over living space and causing unhealthy conditions.
Misconceptions About Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Those who struggle with OCD are often viewed as being strange, overly picky, or eccentric. What most people don’t realize is that their unconventional behaviors are actually someone’s way of coping with distressing, repetitive thoughts. To better understand some of the difficulties that someone with OCD experiences in their daily life, it’s helpful to study some of the most common misconceptions about this mysterious disorder.
People With OCD Don’t Realize What They’re Doing
Although some people with OCD may not realize what they are doing, many people do. Just because someone knows that what they are doing isn’t “normal”, that doesn’t mean that they can just stop. OCD isn’t about a lack of willpower, it’s a mental disorder that usually requires professional help to manage.
OCD is Just Someone Who is Overly Concerned About Cleanliness
Although many people who struggle with OCD exhibit compulsive behaviors such as repetitively washing their hands or needing to have everything in a certain place, there are many other types of OCD that have nothing to do with a fear of germs or dirt. For instance, some people have fears about harming themselves or others. Or, they may fear that they will lose their home or all of their belongings. These fears may be irrational, but for someone who struggles with this anxiety disorder, the only way to neutralize the fear is through various compulsive behaviors.
OCD is Just Another Personality Type
Just as some people are inclined to do better at math and science while others are more creative-minded, it’s often assumed that OCD is just another personality type. On the contrary, OCD is a mental health disorder that involves high levels of emotional distress. Not only that, OCD can contribute to a variety of complications including physical health issues, difficulty maintaining a job or relationships, and overall poor quality of life. OCD is not part of someone’s personality and something that they just have to learn to live with — it can, and should be treated by a professional to prevent it from getting worse.
Everyone Has Some Form of OCD
You may have heard someone joke about being “a little bit OCD”. In fact, many people have used the term to describe a particular area of their life that they are focused on or pay particular attention to. Unfortunately, thinking about obsessive-compulsive disorder in this way doesn’t reflect the true seriousness of this mental health disorder. You can appreciate cleanliness or be particular about how you do something without having OCD. Making light of the condition only makes it more difficult for those who do have it.
Get Help for OCD at Blair Wellness Group
Understanding OCD is the first step in learning how to manage symptoms so you can feel more in control of your life. At Blair Wellness Group of Beverly Hills, we have extensive experience in a wide variety of anxiety disorders including OCD. We can help you understand your triggers and find effective methods for managing obsessive thoughts and fears. Remember that you don’t just have to live with OCD — we can help. Call today to schedule an appointment.