What is It Like to be OCD?

Obsessive compulsive disorder is a mental health disorder characterized by excessive thoughts (obsessions) that lead to repetitive behaviors (compulsions).

You might hear the term used casually by friends or co-workers to describe temporary, largely harmless fixations on completing tasks a certain way or adhering to strict daily routines.

However, while it’s true that we all experience excessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors in our lives, this does not necessarily mean we have OCD.

A diverse group of young adults enjoys time together at a local hangout.

For people with OCD, even hanging out with friends in a casual setting is difficult or impossible.

So, what is it really like to have OCD, and how is OCD diagnosed? That’s what we’re here to talk about in this post. Let’s get started.

How is OCD Diagnosed?

In simple terms, people who truly have OCD expend an incredible amount of time and energy trying to soothe their obsessions—and accompanying anxiety—until they are unable to participate in the activities, hobbies and responsibilities that are important to them.

In contrast, a person who merely has obsessive personality traits is still able to get to work on time, meet friends for lunch and complete typical day-to-day activities.

Common OCD Obsessions

Contamination: Fear of bodily fluids, germs/diseases, environmental contamination, household chemicals, dirt/dust

Losing control: Fear of impulsively harming oneself or others; fear of impulsively using obscenities or insulting language; fear of committing theft

Harm: Fear of responsibility for tragic events or harming others through carelessness

Perfectionism: Worried about being exact or precise; fear of discarding or forgetting important information; unable to make decisions about items to keep/discard

Sexual thoughts: Forbidden or taboo sexual thoughts about others, including children or family members; obsessions about aggressive sexual behavior

Religion: Worried about committing blasphemy or upsetting God; fixation on morality, good and bad, right and wrong

Common OCD Compulsions

Washing & cleaning: Excessive or ritualistic hand-washing, showering or grooming; frequent, excessive cleaning of household items; taking precautions to avoid contact with contaminants

Checking: Repeatedly checking that you didn’t/won’t harm others, yourself or cause something horrific to happen; checking that you didn’t make any mistakes

Repetition: Rereading or rewriting information; redoing routine tasks (sitting up/down, opening/closing doors); doing tasks in multiples because it feels right

What to Do if You Think You Have OCD

Remember, only a doctor can officially diagnose you with obsessive compulsive disorder. And, unless your obsessions/compulsions get in the way of your daily life, it’s more likely that you have an obsessive personality type than OCD. If you aren’t sure, make an appointment with your doctor. If you do have OCD, there are many effective OCD treatment options, ranging from weekly therapy sessions and medications to intensive outpatient and residential programs. To learn more, call our friendly admissions team or fill out our contact form now.

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