Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a type of anxiety disorder that affects nearly 1 out of every 100 adults in the United States. It’s characterized by intrusive and unwanted thoughts that cause significant anxiety, called obsessions. These obsessions can be so uncomfortable that a person develops compulsions. Compulsive behaviors are performed to reduce the amount of anxiety a person with OCD is experiencing. These compulsions only temporarily reduce discomfort levels. That’s because obsessive thoughts are often repetitive and may frequently occur. If you’ve recently been diagnosed with OCD but don’t know what it means, you can learn more about what it means to have this anxiety disorder here.
What does it mean if you’ve been diagnosed with OCD?
Getting an OCD diagnosis is the first step toward improving your quality of life. If you’ve recently been diagnosed, it’s important that you take the time to educate yourself on this condition and start treatment. First, there are several subtypes of obsessive-compulsive disorder. The primary subtypes include contamination OCD, checking OCD, counting OCD, relationship OCD and more. It’s also possible for a person to experience multiple types of OCD simultaneously.
If you’ve gotten an OCD diagnosis, this doesn’t mean the end of the world. It really means that you can now start receiving effective treatment for your symptoms. A diagnosis means that a licensed clinical therapist has identified the condition behind your symptoms. Once your condition has been identified, you can start the most effective course of treatment to improve your quality of life. Getting treatment is important, especially for people with OCD. While treatment won’t “cure” your condition, it can help you learn to manage your symptoms more independently. It also means the chances of your symptoms worsening over time are lessened.
An OCD diagnosis doesn’t mean you should panic or feel less of a person. It doesn’t detract from who you are as a whole. You’re more than a diagnosis. You’re a whole human with unique traits and characteristics. Getting treatment for your OCD can help you improve the quality of your life to further enjoy the human experience.
What are the symptoms of OCD?
The symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder vary depending on the type of OCD a person is experiencing. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Compulsively checking items — One of the symptoms of OCD is compulsively checking items around you. This can include checking several times to see if the front door to your house is locked or if the stovetop burner has been turned off. It may also include taking photos of the door lock or stovetop to prove these items are as they should be.
- Compulsively performing counts — Another symptom of OCD is needing to perform counts. Counting rituals could look like turning on and off a light switch several times or until the anxiety is relieved. It may also look like touching items often until the right number has been reached or the discomfort has temporarily disappeared.
- Compulsively needing to rearrange items — Someone with OCD can also feel a need to rearrange items around them compulsively. This may mean reorganizing a set of glasses or utensils until their feelings of significant discomfort temporarily subside.
- Compulsively repeating words out loud or in their head — Obsessive-compulsive disorder can also manifest as repeating words. This means that someone may repeat words out loud or internally if the word triggers a certain obsession.
- Avoiding places or triggers around an obsession — People experiencing this condition will often try to avoid the things that trigger their obsessions and compulsions. Sometimes, these avoidant behaviors will lead to unhealthy situations, like staying indoors all the time every day.
- Frequently washing hands — For those with contamination OCD, the thought of becoming contaminated by germs or bacteria may become too overwhelming. Obsessive thoughts around contamination may lead to compulsions, like frequent hand-washing, that alleviate the anxiety caused by the obsession.
What treatments can be used to help someone with OCD?
There are a couple of treatment options available to someone with OCD. These options include:
- Psychotherapy — Psychotherapy is a type of treatment that can be used for various mental health conditions, including OCD. It involves seated sessions between a client and a licensed clinical therapist. A specific type of therapy has been shown to be effective for OCD called exposure and response prevention therapy. In this type of therapy, clients are exposed to their feared stimuli without engaging in compulsive behaviors, until their distress decreases.
- Medication — Medication is another treatment option for clients experiencing OCD. Anti-anxiety and antidepressant medications may reduce anxiety and depression symptoms contributing to a person’s OCD.
Lightfully can help you manage your OCD symptoms
Our mission at Lightfully is to provide high-quality mental health care to various types of clients. We believe in using a focused approach to process-based therapy. The framework of our clinic consists of evidence-based, clearly defined, data-driven and whole-person-centered care. We have experience working with various mental health disorders, including obsessive-compulsive disorder, and we’re confident that we can help you manage your OCD symptoms.
Lightfully offers various levels of care to both adults and teens: Residential Treatment, Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), and Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP), also referred to as our Day Treatment Program. We also offer a Virtual Intensive Outpatient Program (vIOP) for adults. We meet you where you are and can help you determine the specifics of your OCD. From there, we create a personalized treatment plan to help you improve the quality of your life.
Change is possible. When you’re ready to take the first step, reach out to our Admissions Concierge Team. We’ll take the next steps together, toward the fullest, brightest version of you.