How to Know if You Have OCD and How to Treat It?

March 25, 2024

If you struggle with persistent, intrusive thoughts and repetitive behaviors that harm you and others, you may be suffering from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). But anyone could occasionally suffer from invasive thoughts. So, how do you know if you have OCD really? That’s what Time Wellness Georgia explores in this article.

What Is (And Is Not) Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is a chronic mental health condition that involves:

  • Recurring, distressing thoughts (often called obsessions), and
  • Repetitive behaviors or mental acts (often referred to as compulsions).

Experts agree that the average age of OCD onset is around 20. Other statistics indicate that symptoms emerge during adolescence or childhood in over 50% of cases.

Although many afflicted people notice signs early on, they often fear stigmatization, preventing them from speaking up.

As a result, the symptoms worsen, keeping the person in a vicious circle of quietude and intensification of symptoms.

A young woman standing in an empty hallway, with her head bowed
When you don’t know if you have OCD: Misconceptions of OCD can lead to increased isolation

Some of the common misconceptions about OCD include statements like:

  • People with OCD can simply stop their behaviors and thoughts if they try hard enough. Yet, willpower alone won’t do the trick. In fact, intense anxiety and fear make the person feel their life is beyond their control.
  • OCD is a preference or personality quirk. It is not. Public institutions and reputable organizations recognize OCD as a mental health disorder that seriously impacts a person’s well-being and life.
  • OCD is rare, so we don’t have to fear it. Although up to 2.3% of the US population suffers from OCD, that’s just one side of the coin. The other thing is that many people with OCD don’t seek help or don’t receive a proper diagnosis due to misconceptions or stigma. So, the numbers could be higher.

In the end, OCD isn’t about cleanliness or about being neat and organized. It’s so much more than that.

Also, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder often comes with other conditions, such as depression or anxiety. Each of them alone can significantly impact your quality of life. However, the good news is that these conditions are treatable. So, contact depression treatment centers in Georgia to get help!

Signs and Symptoms: How to Know if You Have OCD?

There are many signs and symptoms of OCD that you can recognize in yourself and others.

First of all, know that your normal, everyday routines aren’t the same as OCD compulsions.

So, let’s mention a few common obsessions and compulsions next.

Obsessions (or Intrusive Thoughts)

Let’s start off with obsessions. Below, you’ll find the most frequent ones:

  • Contamination obsessions: Fear of dirt, germs, or contamination.
  • Harm obsessions: Intrusive thoughts about harming others or yourself, often accompanied by guilt or intense anxiety.
  • Moral or religious obsessions: Intrusive thoughts related to moral or religious themes, like fear of committing immoral acts or blasphemy.
  • Symmetry or order obsessions: A preoccupation with orderliness, exactness, or symmetry.
  • Health obsessions: Fixating on illness, physical symptoms, or diseases.
  • Sexual obsessions: Unwanted, distressing, or intrusive sexual images, thoughts, or impulses.
  • Magical thinking: Beliefs that some actions or thoughts can influence future events or prevent harm.
  • Perfectionism: Excessive concern with being imperfect or making mistakes.

Compulsions (or Repetitive Actions)

Now, onto the compulsions that result from the obsessions we described above:

  • Cleaning and washing: Excessive hand-washing, cleaning, or showering rituals that reduce fears of contamination.
  • Checking: Repeatedly inspecting appliances, locks, or other items to prevent accidents or harm.
  • Counting and ordering: Tapping, counting, or arranging objects in a specific order to achieve a sense of symmetry or reduce anxiety.
  • Repeating: Repetition of actions, phrases, or words to prevent harm or relieve anxiety.
  • Mental rituals: Engaging in mental rituals, like silently repeating phrases or prayers to neutralize intrusive thoughts.
  • Avoidance: Avoiding situations or triggers that provoke anxiety or obsessive thoughts, leading to impairment in daily living.

It is always best to get treatment for any mental health issue early before its symptoms considerably harm your quality of life.

If you experience any of the symptoms of OCD, anxiety, or any other disorder, or you recognize them in your loved one, facilities for mental health in Atlanta can help you. With a tailored treatment approach, managing mental health issues is possible.

Understanding the Impact of OCD

Let’s now turn our gaze toward understanding the psychological and social impacts of OCD.

Some of the most common include the following:

  • Relationships: OCD can put a strain on relationships with friends, family, or romantic partners. The energy and time you consume on obsessions and compulsions may cap the time you spend with loved ones. In fact, OCD-induced stress can affect interactions and your ability to maintain healthy relationships.
  • Work and academic life: Giving in to compulsions often interferes with academic performance or work tasks. In severe cases, this leads to absenteeism and the inability to maintain academic standing or employment.
  • Social isolation: To avoid judgment or embarrassment, individuals plagued by OCD may withdraw from gatherings or other social situations. As a result, they limit their support network and worsen feelings of depression and loneliness.

By now, you can probably tell the difference between your normal day-to-day routines and OCD compulsions.

But if you still have your doubts, you can reach out to a mental health specialist. What matters most is that you don’t disregard your symptoms.

Treatment Options for OCD

To treat OCD, you need to consider a multifaceted approach. The reason is that working with OCD requires that you include therapy and medication—but also pay attention to co-occurring conditions (like anxiety and depression).

Two women sitting and talking about mental health issues around a table
How to know if you have OCD: Compulsive behavior and intrusive thoughts

#1: Therapy

Let’s start with therapy.

Here are the ways to battle OCD with therapeutic treatment:

  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) helps you accept your thoughts without engaging in compulsions. ACT focuses on flexibility and mindfulness, helping you commit to actions that align with your values, although obsessive thoughts might be present.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an effective method to treat OCD as it focuses on changing harmful thought patterns that often lead to obsessive and compulsive behaviors.
  • Integrated treatment plans can be put into action if the individual suffers from both OCD and a co-occurring condition (like anxiety disorders or depression). With an integrated treatment plan, you get specialized therapy sessions tailored to your needs.

These three aren’t mutually exclusive. In fact, mental health specialists sometimes try each one to see what works for whom.

#2: Medication

If therapeutic means don’t deliver the results you expected, the next step is usually ingesting FDA-approved drugs.

So, here are the most commonly prescribed medications for treating OCD:

  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) increase the levels of serotonin in your brain, helping reduce the intensity of compulsive behaviors and obsessive thoughts. Some examples of SSRIs include paroxetine, sertraline, and fluoxetine.
  • Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs) may work when the former prove ineffective. SNRIs help reduce OCD symptoms and regulate mood by affecting the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. Venlafaxine is an example of an SNRI.

In any case, be wary of taking any medication without a mental health professional counseling you on the regular dose.

#3: Other Approaches

If none of the above work, perhaps it’s time to consider making other interventions in your life.

Here’s a quick roadmap of what you could consider to lessen the effects of OCD:

  • Adjust your lifestyle by incorporating a healthy diet, regular exercise, and sufficient sleep to increase your resilience and overall mental health.
  • Join OCD support groups to get a sense of community and understanding. Also, you could receive emotional support and practical advice from others who have had similar experiences.
  • Get into family therapy, as OCD can affect you and your family, including other close relationships. With family therapy, your loved ones could learn about the disorder and get information about how to provide support to you without enabling compulsive behaviors.

Remember that all these three aspects—therapy, medication, and additional adjustments—can work in unison or separately. In the end, it truly depends on your needs.

To start the healing journey today, seek outpatient mental health in Atlanta that provides tailored treatment plans in a nurturing environment.

Seek Help and Support Now

If we did our job right, you should no longer ponder the question from the beginning: How to know if you have OCD.

So, if you’ve recognized some signs or symptoms in yourself or a loved one, we advise taking personalized treatment plans that include:

  • Experienced mental health specialists not bound by convention and
  • Top-notch facilities to address mental health issues.

Act nowcontact a reliable mental health facility in Atlanta and get the support you need!