Worry, overthinking, preoccupation — we've all struggled with these mental health disruptions at some point. But when those thoughts and feelings overwhelm you and manifest in harmful behavior, you've crossed into obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder, commonly called OCD, is a mental health condition characterized by obsessions, recurring thoughts, or behaviors that are difficult (sometimes impossible) to control or stop.
These obsessions trigger anxiety and extreme distress, which in turn causes an urgent need to perform behaviors called compulsions to stop your thoughts and assuage anxiety.
Those with OCD find themselves stuck in a vicious cycle of thoughts leading to obsessions leading to compulsive behaviors. Dr. Mark Rybakov and our team based in the Brooklyn and Manhattan boroughs of New York City, New York, highlight a few of the warning signs of OCD, so you know what to look for.
Though it varies in severity and expression, OCD affects millions of people in the United States.
Whether you suspect you have OCD or you're trying to support a loved one, we know how hopeless the situation can seem. But there is a way to take control of your mental health and find relief, especially if you catch it early.
1. Obsessive thoughts
One of the hallmark symptoms of OCD is having obsessive thoughts that are intrusive and persistent. These thoughts can be irrational, disturbing, or even violent, and they can cause significant distress to the person experiencing them.
OCD typically revolves around a specific theme. Some of the most common are fears of contamination or germs, worries about harm befalling oneself or others, and concerns about order or symmetry.
2. Compulsive behaviors
Compulsions are repetitive behaviors that a person with OCD feels compelled to perform to alleviate the anxiety triggered by their obsessive thoughts.
Depending on the "theme" of your OCD, these behaviors can take many forms. Some of the most common examples of compulsive behaviors include excessive hand washing, checking and rechecking locks or appliances, counting, or arranging objects in a particular way.
Compulsive behaviors often offer temporary relief from anxiety and can be time-consuming, interfering with your daily activities.
3. Avoidance symptoms
We all feel secure when we control the situation. However, individuals with OCD take those feelings to the next level and let fears of losing control over their thoughts or actions lead to avoidance behaviors, such as avoiding certain situations or objects.
OCD can also cause you to feel shame or embarrassment about your condition, leading to social isolation and difficulty forming relationships.
Perfectionism is a common trait among people with OCD. You may feel a strong need for things to be done "just right," and become upset or anxious when items don't meet your expectations. Often, this leads to procrastination and difficulty in making decisions or completing tasks.
5. Interference with daily life
OCD can significantly impact your life and disrupt your ability to work, socialize, and carry out daily activities. For example, if you have OCD, you might spend hours performing compulsive behaviors, leaving you little time or energy for other activities. Your symptoms might make it tough to maintain relationships or hold a job.
If you have OCD, now what?
If you identify with any of the warning signs of OCD, you're likely wondering about your treatment options. Dr. Rybakov knows that OCD affects everyone differently, so he carefully evaluates your symptoms and health history before recommending a treatment.
For many, psychotherapy is enough to get OCD under control; others may need medication to improve their symptoms. If you're struggling with your mental health, request an appointment with our compassionate team online or over the phone today.