OCD

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OCD

We will give you the support and guidance you need to get started on the road of long-term recovery.

Get Help With Your Mental Health

Understanding Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) as a Mental Health Illness

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a complex and frequently misunderstood mental health condition. It is more than just a preference for orderliness or neatness; OCD is a serious disorder that impacts various facets of an individual’s life. Gaining a comprehensive understanding of OCD is crucial for recognizing its symptoms and for fostering awareness about those living with this condition.

For those seeking assistance in managing OCD symptoms, Guardian Recovery offers a supportive path forward. Our expansive network of national treatment facilities is dedicated to delivering effective treatment and compassionate care. By contacting Guardian Recovery, you can speak with a knowledgeable treatment advisor to explore your options. Begin your journey toward improved mental health today.

What Is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

OCD is a mental health condition affecting 1.2% of adults (1) in America. It is a long-lasting condition causing uncontrollable thoughts, compulsions, or both. Those with OCD often report that they feel as though they are not in control of the rapid and tangential nature of their thoughts or actions. 

These thoughts are described as obsessive and can include: 

  • Fear of germs or contamination.
  • Fear of forgetting, losing, or misplacing something.
  • Fear of losing control over one’s behavior.
  • Aggressive thoughts toward others or oneself.
  • Unwanted, forbidden, or taboo thoughts involving sex, religion, or harm.
  • Desire to have things symmetrical or in perfect order.

To mitigate these intrusive thoughts, those with OCD will often partake in compulsive behaviors. These behaviors are intended to stop the uncontrollable thoughts and may result in actions such as:

  • Excessive cleaning or hand washing.
  • Ordering or arranging items in a particular, precise way.
  • Repeatedly checking things, such as that the door is locked or the oven is off.
  • Compulsive counting.
  • Praying or repeating words silently.

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How OCD Affects the Brain

OCD affects the brain with unwanted or intrusive thoughts. Many living with OCD will perform compulsive and repetitive actions as a way to cope with these unwanted thoughts and the anxiety that accompanies them. Symptoms typically develop in late childhood and can worsen during times of excess stress.

Assessment & Criteria for Diagnosis

Not all repetitive motions and rituals qualify as symptoms of OCD. Symptoms for an OCD (2) diagnosis include:

  • Can’t control their obsessions or compulsions, even when they know they’re excessive.
  • Spend more than one hour a day on their obsessions or compulsions.
  • Don’t get pleasure from their compulsions but may feel temporary relief from their anxiety.
  • Experience significant problems in daily life due to these thoughts or behaviors. 

An accurate diagnosis of OCD can only be given by a qualified mental health professional. They will conduct an in-depth assessment to determine the severity and treatment options for OCD. If you or a loved one feel that an OCD diagnosis is necessary, contact Guardian Recovery today.

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Risk Factors for Developing OCD

OCD symptoms and causes vary between each person living with this mental health condition. Though it is difficult to identify one single cause, several risk factors increase the chances of OCD symptoms developing later in life.

Can Genetics Play a Role in OCD?

The presence of OCD within the genetic line of a person is the highest risk factor for developing this condition. Though scientists have not been able to identify a single gene as the cause of OCD, studies have repeatedly shown (3) a connection between a family history of OCD and descendants showing similar symptoms.

Biological Factors

Biological factors also play a role in the development of OCD-related symptoms. Brain scans of those who have been diagnosed with OCD show that parts of the brain responsible for controlling behavior and emotion are underdeveloped. These areas of the brain, when fully developed, can manage the anxiety and undesired physical behaviors in those who do not have OCD.

Temperament and Childhood Trauma

Studies have shown a connection between more reserved temperaments and the development of OCD. Scientists report that those who have these temperaments may internalize stress or anxiety, leading to the development of OCD symptoms and a way to cope. Scientists have also been able to draw the connection between early traumatic events in childhood increasing the risk of developing OCD. Psychologists say that these traumatic events can trigger anxiety and stress responses, causing OCD symptoms as a means of coping.

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Common Symptoms & Challenges of OCD

An OCD diagnosis will result in the presence of a few common symptoms. These symptoms manifest in multiple areas of life, often causing difficulty for those living with OCD.

Physical Symptoms

Physical symptoms included unwanted and repeated behaviors. These can be small motions, known as “tics,” like blinking, coughing, or yawning. They are involuntary and often uncomfortable for those who live with OCD.

Behavioral Symptoms

The involuntary behaviors associated with OCD can also be more complex, like repeated washing of hands or cleaning. These behaviors are developed as a way to cope with the intrusive and repetitive thoughts caused by OCD. 

Cognitive Symptoms

Cognitive symptoms of OCD manifest as unwanted or intrusive thoughts. These thoughts are uncontrollable to those living with OCD and often manifest in the form of anxiety or fear. Often, the person with these symptoms will display physical or behavioral symptoms to manage these uncontrollable thoughts.

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The Impact of OCD on Daily Life

OCD’s impact on daily life can vary greatly depending on the severity of the symptoms. Some can self-manage their involuntary thoughts or behaviors with a barely noticeable effect on their day-to-day activities. Others with more severe symptoms may require professional help or medication to function with the normal tasks of life adequately.

Approaches & Therapies to OCD Treatment & Management

Common treatments for OCD include psychotherapy as well as medication. Qualified mental health professionals will utilize evidence-based practices such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or Exposure therapy to help their patients develop the skills necessary to manage their OCD symptoms. Medication may be prescribed for severe symptoms of OCD. However, this method of treatment is used along with other psychotherapy measures.

Contact Us to Learn More About OCD Treatment Options Near You

If you or a loved one would like help addressing and managing symptoms related to OCD, contact Guardian Recovery today. Our nationwide network of mental health treatment facilities will be able to offer the help you need from licensed and qualified mental health professionals. Call today to speak with a treatment advisor. They can answer any questions about the treatment process and guide you to your next step. Your mental health is essential, and Guardian Recovery is here to help.

Item #1
  1. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd
  2. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd#:~:text=Obsessive%2Dcompulsive%20disorder%20(OCD),or%20interfere%20with%20daily%20life.
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2824902/

Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave

L.M.H.C.

Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

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Resources

Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave

L.M.H.C.

Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

More About Author
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