Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is marked by profound anxiety and elaborate behaviors intended to relieve that anxiety. Often these behaviors lose their ability to curb anxiety over time, leading to compounded behaviors or increased repetitions in established rituals. Such obsessions and compulsions interfere with everyday life and lead to major distress.
Know the Symptoms
- You’re afraid of germs or getting contaminated.
- You have unwelcome, forbidden, or bad thoughts involving intimacy, religion, or injury.
- You think about yourself or others aggressively.
- You insist on everyday things being symmetrical or in a specific order.
- You find yourself excessively cleaning items or washing your hands.
- Things must be ordered and arranged in a certain way.
- You constantly check on things, such as seeking reassurance that the door is locked when you leave home.
- Compulsive counting.
- Your family history. If your parents or other family members have OCD, you’re at greater risk of getting it.
- A confluence of stress-inducing events or circumstances. If you’ve gone through a trauma, your risk may go up. As a result, this may trigger intrusive feelings, repetitive behavior, and emotional distress. These are hallmarks of OCD.
- You could also be at risk if you have other mental health disorders like anxiety, depression, substance abuse, or tic disorders.
Who Gets OCD?
- People of all backgrounds, ages, ethnicity, income, and other demographics.
- OCD typically appears in someone between the ages of eight and 12 and the late teen years to early adulthood.
- The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health estimates that 3 million adults have it, and about half a million children.
What are the Causes?
No one knows what causes obsessive-compulsive disorder, but science and medicine have shined a light on some of the possibilities:
- Your biology. OCD may happen due to changes in your brain functions or your body’s own organic chemistry.
- The condition may have a genetic component, but specific genes that could play a role in its development haven’t been identified yet.
- Your compulsive behaviors and obsessive fears can be picked up by watching family members or slowly ingrained over time.
Coping Strategies to Live With OCD
Living with OCD isn’t easy. It presents complications and challenges that millions grapple with daily, balancing their lives with the compulsions and obsessions that can take control at any time. But there are coping strategies you can use. Here are several to consider:
- Like other illnesses, symptoms from OCD can happen when you least expect it, so be prepared for the unexpected.
- Life is filled with risks, so be willing to accept them.
- Be wary of reassurances from yourself or others, as that sometimes cancels out the benefits of therapy or medicine like ketamine.
- When obsessive thoughts come up, just agree with them. Why? Because they’re not real, so just take them as they come and move on.
- Trying to prevent thoughts related to obsessions and compulsions is exhausting and time-consuming. Even worse? You’ll end up thinking more about these things than before.
- Coping with the rigors of obsessive-compulsive disorder is a long-haul proposition. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, with few things presented in a clear-cut, black and white fashion. You’re going to make mistakes at this stage, but you can learn from them and be stronger.
- No one can effectively deal with your symptoms besides you. Family and friends may be able to provide support. A counselor can help you build coping skills but recognizing the warning signs of OCD and handling them is your job.
- Coping successfully means going at your own pace, heading directly for the anxiety trying to control your life – and being committed to retaking command.
Diagnosis & Treatment
If you think you have OCD, it’s best to see a healthcare provider for diagnosis and treatment options. Diagnosis includes:
- A physical examination to understand personal and family medical history, talk about symptoms, and look for an underlying medical condition that may be causing your problems.
- A psychiatric evaluation focuses on your thoughts, feelings, behavior, and emotions and whether you or a family member has a history of mental illness.
- Comparing symptoms to diagnostic criteria.
OCD may be treated with psychotherapy, self-help, medicine, or ketamine therapy. At Luvita, we work at the intersection of medical, psychotherapy, and psychedelic care models. If OCD is interfering with your enjoyment of life, we’d love to help. Contact us today!