Obsessive compulsive disorder is a mental condition that causes individuals to experience unwanted and recurring thoughts or ideas. There’s no clear-cut cause of OCD, but there are different contributing factors. The disorder may also be connected to conditions like separation anxiety disorder and addiction. This article offers a detailed review of OCD, including the signs, symptoms, and treatment.
What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?
OCD is a condition characterized by repetitive and unwanted thoughts that lead to compulsive actions. Individuals diagnosed with OCD typically feel an obligation to perform certain rituals or activities during the day. Without those rituals or activities, they may feel high levels of discomfort.
Like most complex neuropsychiatric disorders, the origins of OCD are not conclusive.1 From the estimates of heritability in the range of 40% to 50%, it is evident that there’s a genetic connection to the risk of OCD. Other less reviewed environmental factors like infection and trauma are also significantly linked to the mental health condition.2
According to the Psychiatric Clinics of North America, OCD affects around 2.3% of people at a period in their lives. Rates of mental health condition during any particular year is approximately 1.2%. Research also proves that OCD affects around 2.2 million adults or one percent of the individuals in the United States of America.3
Signs and Symptoms of OCD
One of the significant signs of OCD in an individual is the continuous urges, thoughts, or ideas that result in anxiety. There are a wide variety of signs and symptoms of OCD, and several of them may occur together. According to the Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale, there are thirteen predefined categories of symptoms.
Obsessions or obsessive thoughts are repetitive ideas that persist despite the individual’s effort to subdue or ignore them. Individuals experiencing obsessions typically perform tasks to relieve themselves from anxiety due to obsessions. Every individual has a unique level of initial obsession or intrusive ideas in terms of vividness or clarity.4
An example of obsessions in a person is when he or she believes that life cannot proceed as normal while there is a specific imbalance. Some individuals with the disorder may also feel a sensation of an invisible protrusion from their bodies. Common types of obsessions include:
- Intrusive thoughts: These are concepts that may seem stuck in the individual’s mind and cause a significant level of distress. Note that these intrusive thoughts typically make the individual repeat certain actions in the hope of ending the thoughts and preventing occurrence.
- Contamination: This type of obsession involves an individual worrying about contracting a specific illness or spreading germs. People experiencing fear of contamination often feel a sensation of uncleanliness when they are in contact with people or objects.
- Checking: Individuals with this condition are typically worried that they may cause something bad to happen. For this reason, they develop anxiety and constantly make checks to gain certainty that there will not be a dangerous event.
- Ordering and arranging: Individuals with this type of obsession typically engage in repetitive arrangements or organization, such as lining up objects. Most people with this condition are conventionally referred to as perfectionists.
Effects of Obsessions
Long-term effects of obsession may include depression, anxiety, and the risk of substance use. Research proves that approximately two-thirds of individuals with obsession experience major depressive disorders (MDD), which may also result in substance use.5
Addiction vs Obsession
Addiction is closely linked to obsession. Since obsession results in depression and anxiety due to intrusive thoughts, there’s a higher risk of addiction. Drugs typically appear as a way out for individuals experiencing major depressive disorders. Substances may be effective at temporarily subsiding emotional pain and allowing a feeling of happiness.
People with OCD typically perform compulsive actions because they feel a need for those activities. Individuals taking such actions feel it is essential to control their compulsions. Here are some of the significant types of compulsions:
- Frequent checks: Like obsession, these individuals may constantly perform checks. For example, they may consistently confirm if a door is properly locked several times.
- Washing and cleaning: Individuals with compulsion may wash their hands vigorously till the skin becomes raw.
- Counting: People with counting compulsions (arithmomania) typically count because they think that some numbers have specific importance. These individuals also count because they feel a need to keep tabs on objects around their surroundings.
- Orderliness: This type of compulsion defines an individual that pays extreme attention to order lists, rules, and schedules. These individuals conventionally feel a need for perfectionism, which ultimately interferes with efficiency and completing tasks.
Effects of Compulsions
Like obsessions, the effects of compulsions may include depression and consistent anxiety. These conditions may have significant negative results on an individual’s school, work, or personal relationships with loved ones.6
Addiction vs Compulsion
Compulsions are repetitive actions that individuals take to reduce the anxiety that is linked to obsessions. Addiction may also occur due to the need for suppressing anxiety. Hence, addiction and compulsion are related because they are both for eliminating discomfort.
There’s a strong connection between OCD and drug use disorder or addiction. According to the Journal of Anxiety Disorders, over a quarter of individuals needing OCD care have a substance use disorder. People who first develop symptoms of OCD as young adults tend to develop an addiction.7
How Taking an OCD Test Could Benefit You
In many people, obsessions and compulsions can take different forms due to the variation in severity. It is essential to undergo the necessary test, especially when the symptoms are evident. One of the significant ways in which taking an OCD test can benefit you is by instilling awareness for an immediate OCD treatment. If you ignore the signs and symptoms, they may become more severe.
Treatment for OCD and Addiction
For a proper treatment of OCD and drug addiction after OCD test or diagnosis, here are some reliable techniques:
- Dual Diagnosis: This OCD treatment procedure involves managing both OCD and addiction as co-occurring conditions. A licensed professional may recommend certain medications and building a strong support network.
- Medication: Licensed health professionals may recommend antidepressants in treating OCD and addiction. These drugs balance the neurotransmitters that influence mood and emotions. A significant example of this drug is selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).8
- Impatient/Outpatient: The impatient recovery is also called residential treatment and it requires the individual to manage himself in a controlled environment. Unlike inpatient treatment, outpatient involves services that individuals receive when they are not in the hospital. Note that the inpatient treatment programs are typically for the most severe OCD cases.
- Relapse Prevention (RP): RP is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) that ensures patients have fewer relapses in the recovery process of OCD and drug addiction. It teaches individuals to anticipate triggering scenarios and the steps to coping with these scenarios.
Obsessive compulsive disorder requires early diagnosis and treatment. With an OCD test, individuals can discover the need for recovery and obtaining substantial relief from the symptoms. Note that it’s essential to follow the doctor’s prescription or treatment technique for OCD and drug addiction. Self-medication is strongly discouraged.