Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

“Washing my hands is the very first thing on my mind every morning. It’s the first thing I do. Wash, rinse and repeat. Wash, rinse and repeat. Wash, rinse and repeat. Wash, rinse and repeat... more than 50 times a day."

"I make everyone late every morning. Functioning has become extremely difficult and I feel ashamed and guilty. I know that the thoughts in my head are unrealistic and make no sense. I just can’t refrain. I’ve tried to force myself not to wash, but an intense feeling of anxiety takes over and I fail every time. The irrational routines control my thoughts, my life and my family.” - LISA P.

Most people have rituals, habits and worries. Some may even suffer from OC-type behaviors, but they are not life-consuming. Yet for others, these are more than personality quirks. In full-blown OCD, the compulsions most often affect work, marriage and friendships. The process of diagnosing OCD involves determining how much a behavior is interfering with the person’s life and must be done by a licensed professional.

Just the facts

- People with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) have persistent, upsetting thoughts (obsessions) and use rituals (compulsions) to control the anxiety these thoughts produce.

Common rituals may include a need to repeatedly check things, touch things (especially in a particular sequence), or count things.

- Common obsessions include having frequent thoughts of violence and harming loved ones, persistently thinking about performing sexual acts the person dislikes, contamination fears or having thoughts that are prohibited by religious beliefs.

People with OCD may be preoccupied with order and symmetry, have difficulty throwing things out so they accumulate or hoard unneeded items.

- People with OCD perform their rituals even though doing so interferes with daily life and they find the repetition distressing, disturbing and intrusive.

Most adults with OCD recognize that what they are doing is senseless.

Some adults and most children may not realize that their behavior is out of the ordinary.

- 2.2 million American adults are currenlty living with OCD.

OCD can be accompanied by eating disorders, other anxiety disorders, or depression.

Men and women are strucked with OCD in roughly equal numbers.

OCD usually appears in childhood, adolescence or early adulthood.

- One-third of adults with OCD develop symptoms as children.

It is possible for a person to suffer only obsessions or only compulsions.

Symptoms may come and go, ease over time, or get worse.

Obsessions can be thoughts, images or impulses that occur repeatedly.

- If OCD becomes severe, it can keep a person from working or carrying out normal responsibilities at home.

People with OCD may try to help themselves by avoiding situations that trigger their obsessions, or may use alcohol or drugs to calm themselves.

If you think you or someone you know might have OCD, please seek the help of a medical professional immediately.

Here’s where you can turn for further information about OCD:

Mesilla Valley Hospital
3751 N. Del Rey Blvd., Las Cruces, NM 88012

Southwest Counseling Center
100 W. Griggs Ave., Las Cruces, NM 88001

International OCD Foundation

National Institute
of Mental Health

Sources: National Institute of Mental Health, International OCD Foundation

Winter 2012
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