What Is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?

What Is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?

People who struggle with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) may feel like they cannot control the thoughts, obsessions, and impulses that flood their minds. OCD can be a debilitating experience and make people feel as if their brain is not their own.

What Is OCD?

OCD is a mental illness characterized by unwanted and recurrent, thoughts, images, and impulses that occur continuously in an individual’s mind which they have little to no control over. The thoughts, images, or impulses are obsessional, ego-dystonic, and fear-based in nature.

Most individuals with OCD know their obsessions and compulsions are irrational. Yet, they feel they have no control over them, especially because they usually come with the fear that something bad will happen if they do not perform a certain task.

Common Obsessions in OCD

Although OCD obsessions can present in just about any form, common obsessions include:

  • Contamination
  • Losing control
  • Harm
  • Perfectionism
  • Sexual thoughts
  • Religious obsessions
  • Superstitions
  • Sexual orientation

Those with OCD often fear speaking out about their experiences with obsessions because they imagine people might think there is something wrong with them, or that they will be considered “crazy.” Although abnormal, this is simply how this disorder affects people. Mental illness often gives people no choice but to suffer symptoms as long as they do not seek intervention.

Symptoms of OCD

The obsession aspect of OCD is what leads to compulsions, which are behaviors individuals engage in repeatedly to “undo” or “get rid” of the unwanted obsession. Compulsions can involve the following examples:

  •  physical rituals like hand washing
  • opening and closing something a set number of times
  • mental routines like prayer
  • repeating a word or phrase
  • constantly seeking reassurance they are safe.

Treatment for OCD

Receiving treatment for OCD is essential to experience relief from it. The standard treatment is exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy. This type of therapy is centered around making peace with obsessions and realizing an individual is safe even in the presence of obsessional fears. It helps individuals embody the truth that just because a thought exists does not make it true.

ERP is about allowing oneself to be uncertain and finding safety in that fact. This can free people from having to compulsively respond to the fears they are experiencing. In some cases, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), a kind of antidepressant, can also be helpful. This is something to discuss with a doctor and treatment team.

Although OCD can make people feel like their brain has been highjacked, treatment and support are available, as is recovery from OCD.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a debilitating experience for those struggling with it, and can occur independently or co-occur with substance use disorder and/or other mental illnesses. At Avalon Malibu, our team of professionals is here to support you as you seek relief from OCD symptoms, make peace with the obsessions present for you, and receive help for any co-occurring disorders or symptoms you may have. You never have to go through this on your own. Call Avalon Malibu today at (844) 857-5992.

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