5 Signs of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Jun 20, 2023
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Discover five signs of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), such as obsessive thoughts and rituals. If these sound familiar, help is available to improve your quality of life.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) causes repetitive thoughts and behaviors that get in the way of daily living. From repetitive handwashing that leaves your hands red and chapped to nagging thoughts that seem stuck on an endless loop, there are common OCD signals therapists recognize.

If you recognize yourself or a loved one in the symptoms below, you can find support. The expert providers at Potomac Shores Mental Health and Wellness in Woodbridge, Virginia, offer mental health support for depression, anxiety, and OCD. 

What causes OCD? 

Experts are unclear on the genesis of OCD, but they believe it’s connected to brain wiring, environment, and genetics. It often runs in families.

Some sufferers find relief in serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and psychotherapy. 

5 symptoms of OCD 

Obsessive-compulsive disorder gets in the way of daily living. People may adopt repetitive behaviors as a way to control their environment, and it impacts everything they do. Here are five common traits of people suffering from OCD. 

1. Repetitive nagging thoughts 

If you’ve ever experienced persistent, intrusive thoughts that just won’t let go, that’s an OCD symptom. Mental health professionals call them obsessions, because people with OCD fixate on specific things, and these thoughts can rule their lives. For example, such thoughts might relate to safety, fear of germs, or a need for symmetry. 

2. Repetitive rituals 

While everyone has daily habits, OCD habits are different. Habits related to OCD become compulsive and repetitive and are performed to reduce anxiety. For example, someone with OCD may wash their hands excessively because they fear germs, or they may check the stove multiple times to make sure it’s off because they fear a fire. For others, they may count and rearrange objects repeatedly as a way to put their world in order. Any of these behaviors can turn into the day’s focus and get in the way of living. 

3. Fear of uncertainty

While few people thrive on uncertainty, people with OCD focus on creating order and control to reduce the unknown. They double or triple check whether the door is locked, seek reassurance constantly, and plan in detail. While attention to detail can be a good thing, with OCD, it distracts from daily life and can increase distress. 

4. Unwanted thoughts on violence 

So-called “harm” obsessions can appear as disturbing thoughts or images cycling through one’s mind. These can appear as horrific and uncontrollable fantasies of violence or purposely causing accidents. The person having these thoughts is often nonviolent and horrified by these thoughts and doesn’t know how to stop them. This can lead to feelings of shame and guilt. 

5. Emotional distress 

Living with OCD is hard. Many people feel anxiety and shame about not having control over their thoughts or actions. If the compulsions get in the way of daily life, OCD can impact relationships, self-esteem, and overall mental health.

Therapists can help OCD sufferers manage their symptoms and improve their lives. Two effective approaches include cognitive-behavior therapy and exposure-and-response therapy. Cognitive-behavior therapy helps you re-evaluate your upsetting thoughts and find healthy ways to manage them. Exposure-and-response therapy helps you find new ways of coping with anxiety without compulsive rituals.

If you have OCD and want treatment, or if you want to see if you have the condition, the team at Potomac Shores Mental Health and Wellness can help. To learn more, call 571-601-4425 or book an appointment online today.