What is obsessive-compulsive disorder?
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common and long-lasting mental health condition that causes intrusive, obsessive thoughts that lead you to repeat certain behaviors, or compulsions, over and over.
These obsessions and compulsions impede daily activities and often cause feelings of anxiety or distress. Trying to ignore or suppress the obsessions may worsen your anxiety and distress.
What are the symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder?
People with OCD usually experience both obsessions and compulsions, but it’s possible to have only one or the other. These symptoms can take up a lot of time and seriously interfere with work, school, and personal relationships.
Obsessions are recurrent, unwanted thoughts or mental images that cause anxiety. Common examples of obsessions include:
- Fear of germs or contamination
- Thoughts of harming yourself or others
- Disturbing sexual images
- Needing things to be symmetrical or in a particular order
- Doubts that you’ve locked the door or turned off the stove
You may be aware that these thoughts are irrational, but you still fear that they’re somehow true.
Compulsions are repetitive actions that you feel driven to perform in response to the obsession. This may involve rules or rituals that you follow to control or reduce the obsessive thoughts. Common examples of compulsions include:
- Excessive hand washing or cleaning
- Checking the locks on doors or the stove repeatedly
- Ordering or arranging things in a certain way
- Counting and recounting things
- Repeating a word, phrase, or prayer silently
OCD symptoms typically appear during adolescence or early adulthood, but people over age 35 can develop this condition as well.
How is obsessive-compulsive disorder treated?
OCD is usually a lifelong (chronic) condition, but the providers at Dr. Messina & Associates teach you how to control your symptoms so they don’t rule your life. The two main treatments for OCD include medications and psychotherapy. The most effective treatment may involve a combination of both.
You can ask your psychiatrist or primary care physician about the best type of medication for you.
The providers at Dr. Messina & Associates use a type of psychotherapy called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). They also use a type of CBT called exposure and response prevention (ERP), which helps you face your obsessions while refraining from the compulsion.
Medication management may also be suitable as a treatment option. Psychiatrists may prescribe medication for a trial period to monitor the effectiveness of the medication as a reliable treatment for OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder).
This reduces your symptoms by desensitizing you to the anxiety-provoking nature of the obsession.
To learn how you can take control of your life with OCD, call the office of Dr. Messina & Associates or book an appointment online today.
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