Disturbing thoughts and repetitive behaviors can make you feel out of control. We’re here to help.
When you’re faced with a challenging problem, it’s perfectly normal to ruminate on it or worry over it. You may have unwanted thoughts that pester you from time to time. And you may find yourself checking more than once to make sure you’ve locked the front door before leaving on vacation. These kinds of thoughts and behaviors are normal. When they persist or become uncontrollable, that’s a sign you may have obsessive-compulsive disorder, also known as OCD. As many as 2.3 percent of adults in the United States meet the diagnostic criteria for OCD, making the condition more common than many people realize.
Causes that can contribute to obsessive-compulsive disorder include genetics, serotonin abnormalities, and severe stress. While the disorder can develop at any age, initial symptoms often appear for the first time during adolescence or early adulthood. People with OCD are often ashamed or embarrassed by their compulsive behavior and may attempt to hide their behavior from people they love.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder can involve distressing, unwanted thoughts that persist. For example, one common symptom of OCD is an overwhelming fear of infection or germs; others may have a strict need to order or arrange items in their environment in a certain way, such as alphabetically or by category. Others with OCD experience unwanted thoughts about hurting themselves or other people. They may also have obsessive thoughts about topics that are considered taboo, such as incest or blasphemy. These thoughts are frustrating and frightening because they aren’t easily controlled.
Compulsions can be thought of as obsessions that are translated into action — and they’re equally difficult to control. People with obsessive-compulsive disorder often experience a sense of tension and discomfort that can be relieved by repeating actions. They might engage in repetitive counting of items or placing items in a specific order; checking over and over to ensure safety, like locking the door or turning off the stove; focus on hygiene to an unhealthy degree, such as cleaning or washing repeatedly.
The symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder can be distressing and exhausting, especially over time. People who suffer from OCD often turn to substances, particularly alcohol and other depressants, as a way of escaping the difficulties of living with the disorder. Of course, alcohol and drugs can provide a temporary respite, but they can actually worsen symptoms of OCD, especially as dependence grows over time. While substances aren’t a viable long-term solution to manage the symptoms of OCD, there is treatment that can help.
At Niznik Behavioral Health facilities, our clinical teams take a client-centered, holistic approach to treating obsessive-compulsive disorder, combining evidence-based therapy, medication and wellness. Cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy in particular have demonstrated success in minimizing obsessive thoughts and compulsive behavior. Also, certain antidepressants are quite effective at improving the symptoms of OCD. And many of our rehab facilities provide a focus on wellness, such as yoga, meditation, and nutrition. By supporting your recovery in mind, body, and spirit, Niznik Behavioral Health gives you the best possible environment in which to heal and find peace.