Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a type of anxiety disorder that causes people to experience extreme stress and discomfort. People suffering from OCD have recurrent thoughts and try to negate these unwanted thoughts with rituals. OCD affects over 2 million adults in the US. Severe cases can dramatically decrease the quality of life for a patient. Here are some signs and symptoms of OCD.
Signs of OCD
For someone to be diagnosed with OCD, they must have both obsessions and compulsive behaviors. These compulsions are done to repress the intrusive thoughts. Some signs that may indicate that this is happening include repeated unwanted thoughts, fear of contamination, unwanted sexual thoughts, aggressive impulses, unwanted thoughts of hurting loved ones, and thoughts that someone you love may be harmed. These thoughts are disturbing to the patient and they are unable to get them out of their head.
Another sign of obsessive compulsive disorder is the constant need to check on things. This fulfills the patient’s need to have 100% certainty, which is difficult to obtain. Some actions may include constant checking or counting, repeated cleaning of an item, washing hands excessively, checking to make sure the doors are locked or the stove is off, and arranging items in a certain manner. Some also count their steps or count objects in a room. This helps the patient gain a sense of control over their environment.
Emotional Symptoms of OCD
People who suffer from OCD are typically extremely anxious and constantly on edge. They may have another psychological disorder that stems from their suffering from OCD, such as depression, tension, or excessive worrying. A patient may also feel trapped in their head and that someone else is controlling their unwanted thoughts.
High anxiety comes along if a patient is unable to fulfill the ritual needed to undo a thought or check on something. These anxieties are very difficult to move past. Some may see this as a degree of paranoia.
Physical Symptoms of OCD
Aside from the compulsions that patients must so to help decrease their level of anxiety, a person who is suffering from OCD may show some physical problems. For example, some sufferers wash their hands so excessively that their hands become red and dry. Also, people may notice that the patient’s home or car are excessively tidy all of the time and the person may have a reaction if something feels out of place for them.
OCD may lead a patient to have physical symptoms that are secondary to the disease. For example, if a patient is obsessed with being skinny, they may develop anorexia as a secondary disorder to their obsessive compulsive disorder. Or, some people who are scared to let go of physical objects for mental reasons may develop a hoarding disorder.
Medication and cognitive behavioral therapy are the best ways to begin treatment for obsessive compulsive disorder. These signs and symptoms are likely to indicate that an OCD diagnosis is appropriate if they are interfering with the patient’s life and cause them undo stress.