Obsessive Compulsive Q & A
What is OCD?
OCD is an anxiety disorder that causes you to have unreasonable thoughts, and these thoughts lead to obsessive behaviors. Having a routine helps create structure and order. But if your routine is so rigid that it impairs your life, you may be dealing with OCD.
OCD isn’t that common, affecting a little more than 1 percent of the population in the United States. OCD can begin at any age, even childhood, but it’s most commonly diagnosed in the late teens. OCD affects women more than men.
What are the symptoms of OCD?
Symptoms of OCD are divided into two groups: obsessive and compulsive.
Obsessive symptoms may include recurrent or unwanted thoughts, such as:
Unwanted forbidden or taboo thoughts involving sex, religion, or harm
Fear of germs or contamination
Need for symmetry and perfect order
Aggressive thoughts of harming yourself or others
Compulsive symptoms are behaviors or urges you feel you have little control over and may include:
Repeatedly checking on things
Cleaning or frequent hand-washing
Needing to order and arrange things
Need for constant reassurance from others
If you’re having thoughts of harming yourself or someone else, call 911.
What causes OCD?
It’s not entirely understood what causes you to develop OCD, but there are risk factors associated with the anxiety disorder, including:
Genetics, because having a close family member with OCD increases your risk
Abnormalities in brain structure
Childhood trauma or abuse
How is OCD treated?
Dr. Erickson treats your OCD with a combination of psychotherapy, medication, and/or alternative therapies. The right treatment can reduce your symptoms, but you may continue to experience some anxiety from time to time.
Serotonin reuptake inhibitors are often prescribed to help manage OCD. Dr. Erickson also uses cognitive behavioral therapy or habit reversal training to help stop the intrusive thoughts and behaviors.
As an integrative psychiatrist, Dr. Erickson may recommend supplements, techniques to manage stress, good nutrition, and regular exercise in addition to traditional treatment for OCD.
OCD may present with other mental health issues, such as body dysmorphic disorder, which is a condition in which you might perceive an abnormality on your body that’s not there. Treating any underlying condition is also necessary to alleviate OCD behaviors and symptoms.