Carolina Counseling Services - Obsessive-Compulsive Behaviors: What You Need to Know
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Obsessive-Compulsive Behaviors: What You Need to Know
The rigors of daily life can cause a certain level of anxiety in many people. For normal people, double checking something is considered a trivial task that should be done only when there is a need for it. Doing certain things once or twice is a way of allaying any fears to be able to resume daily functioning.
For some people, however, there is the need to do repeated checks to be able to move forward. The desire to perform repetitive and all-consuming rituals and routines can become an obsession that may hinder them in doing more important things and cause disruption to life. This stream of uncontrollable thoughts, urges and unstoppable images drives the affected person to combat or respond by resorting to repetitive behavior that constitutes compulsion.
If you are experiencing these thoughts and symptoms, you may be suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Here is the information you need to know.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or OCD is a psychological health issue formerly considered a type of anxiety disorder. Today, it is regarded as a unique and potentially disabling condition that traps people in a cycle of uncontrollable obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are unwanted, involuntary and intrusive thoughts, images or urges that generate intensely distressing feelings. A person with OCD is compelled to engage in behavioral or mental rituals, called compulsions, as an effort to get rid of the obsessions or reduce the intensity of distress.
Most people may have obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors at one point or another, but it does not always conclude they have OCD. For a diagnosis to be final, the cycle of obsessions and compulsions should be so extreme to the extent that it has become time-consuming and gets in the way of more important activities.
Studies aimed at understanding OCD reveal that OCD has a biological basis rather than being a cause of family problems or an acquired attitude in childhood. Modern knowledge about the condition suggests there is a disturbance of brain circuitry between the front part of the brain and the subcortical areas. This problem may be caused by insufficient levels of brain chemicals, such as serotonin, especially in people with genetic vulnerability to the disorder.
OCD is sometimes accompanied by other psychological health issues; such as depression, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), substance abuse, and other forms of anxiety disorders. When occurring with other illnesses, OCD becomes more difficult to diagnose and treat. It is important that the other disorders are appropriately diagnosed and treated as well for the successful treatment of OCD.
Prevalence and Causes of OCD
Currently, the number of people with OCD is estimated to be about 1 in 100 adults, or between two to three million adults in the United States. The disorder is also common in at least 1 in 200, or 500,000 American children and teens, and is twice as common in young boys than in girls. OCD generally occurs in both adults and children, and may start at any time ranging from preschool to adulthood. There are, however, two age ranges when the first symptoms of OCD tend to develop: the first range is between the pre-teen years of 10 and 12, and the second before the age of 30.
Despite a wealth of research, the origin and the exact causes of OCD remain unknown. While it is believed to have a neurobiological basis, OCD is also thought to be triggered by a combination of factors involving genetic, behavioral, cognitive, and environmental. Research shows that OCD runs in families and can be an inherited “familial disorder” that may span generations of close relatives.
Another theory involves people’s behavior in stressful or fearful events, such as starting a new job or a breakup. Instead of confronting or tolerating the intense feeling, OCD develops by performing “rituals” to avoid or reduce fear. On the other hand, the cognitive theory suggests that people with OCD often misinterpret their thoughts by exaggerating a perceived threat with ritual behaviors. Whether an illness or a traumatic life event is involved, no one really knows what exactly induces the symptoms associated with OCD.
Common Obsession and Compulsion Pairings in OCD
When occurring in children and teenagers, the symptoms of OCD begin gradually and worsen with age, ranging from mild to severe. Some indications may include obsessive thoughts only and without compulsive behavior. Although some people with OCD may try to hide the symptoms out of shame or stigma, it is easy for family and friends to notice the obvious connection between the pairings of obsessions and compulsions identified with the disorder. A few examples are given below.
- Contamination obsessions and compulsive washing: Persons with OCD have a fear of objects potentially contaminated with germs, dirt, virus, poison, etc. Contact with such items is anxiously avoided, and if contact does occur, excessive washing rituals are performed to relieve anxiety and reduce the possibility of danger.
- Doubts and checking compulsions: OCD-affected people have tormenting thoughts or recurring doubts about their safety. They are obsessed about harm or impending danger so they engage in checking rituals to make sure everything is safe.
- Magical thoughts and neutralizing rituals: The intrusive thought or image of someone they love being harmed fills the mind of a person with OCD. The compulsion to perform some activities to mentally neutralize or undo the unpleasant thought serves to reverse or replace it with a good one.
- Violent thoughts and associated rituals: This pairing involves unwanted images or thoughts of self-harm or hurting others. People with OCD find themselves hiding dangerous objects and frequently checking that everyone is safe.
Help is Available
Obsessive-compulsive disorder cannot be prevented. Fortunately, it is treatable. The key is to seek early diagnosis and treatment to reduce the time a person may spend suffering from the effects of OCD. Treatment studies have shown that about 70 percent of people with OCD who sought help responded very well to Behavior Therapy and greatly improved in their functioning.
Sadly, despite the availability of several methods of therapy to relieve the symptoms, not all people affected by the disorder obtain appropriate treatment. Some prefer to hide their condition due to shame and wait until many years before seeking professional help. Others find it difficult to locate a therapist who can effectively treat OCD. OCD will not go away on its own, so it is very important to get treatment.
When choosing a therapist, you’ll recognize the fact that therapists are not created equal. Some have more experience and training at treating OCD than the others. At Carolina Counseling Services – Fuquay-Varina, NC, you can be matched with an independently contracted right fit therapist who can help you through your issues. Whether it’s you, your child, or a significant person suffering from OCD, seeking therapy can be one of the best decisions you may ever make to achieve a better quality of life. All you need to do is call, text, or email to request an appointment.
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Carolina Counseling Services contracts with Licensed professional counselors/therapists/psychologists that provide a friendly, relaxed atmosphere. Carolina Counseling Services Fuquay-Varina contracts with friendly, caring therapists who assist adult individuals, couples, families, and children with resolving issues and getting back to enjoying their lives. Whether you are non-military or military, it will always been a pleasure to work with you. CCS and the independently contracted therapists are able and happy to assist active duty dependents and retired military and their families.
Serving Areas: Carolina Counseling Services
Counties: Wake County NC
Cities: Fuquay-Varina NC, Holly Springs NC, Angier NC, Duncan NC, Chalybeate Springs NC, Feltonville NC, Garner NC, Kennebec NC, Willow Springs NC, Cokesbury NC, Holland NC, Wilbon NC