Symptoms Of OCD In Adults

Have you ever been in a situation where an unwanted thought comes through your mind and you cannot shake it off? Well, you are not alone. Everyone has intrusive or unwanted thoughts at times. What do you do when you have an unwanted intrusive thought? The common answer is that you start thinking about something else or get yourself busy doing healthier activities.
However, some people find it difficult to let go of these recurring unwanted thoughts, images, or impulses (Obsessions). These thoughts and impulses can be disturbing and create intense discomfort and worry. In an effort to manage these thoughts, some people begin to do ritualistic behaviors (Compulsions) in order to decrease their anxiety around the thoughts. This is what OCD is.

Symptoms Of OCD In Adults:

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety-related mental illness. Around 2-3% of the population is being affected by this disorder. People with OCD cannot control the urge to perform certain actions in a certain manner repeatedly. These obsessions and rituals disrupt or affect a person’s ability to focus on daily work. And with time, if left untreated, OCD takes a toll on your life.

Obsessions and Compulsions:

People suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder can have obsessions, compulsions, or both of them. Some may have primarily compulsions like the need to do specific actions in a specific manner. Others may have primarily obsessions like repeated thoughts of specific images.
In either case, the thoughts and actions are time-consuming and affect the person’s daily life and create a significant amount of distress and anxiety. Some compulsions can be a direct response to the obsession like washing hands due to the fear of germs, others can be entirely non-related like tapping on the desk repeatedly while having unwanted aggressive impulses.

Common Obsessions:

  • Fear of getting germs, contamination, or disease.
  • Fear of harming oneself or others
  • Fear of something bad happening to oneself or a loved one
  • Fear of blurting out nonsense or insults
  • Unwanted sexual desires
  • Religious obsessions
  • Unwanted aggressive thoughts
  • Symmetry obsessions

Common compulsions:

  • Repeated washing body parts, showers, teeth brushing
  • Compulsive cleaning of household objects
  • Repeated praying
  • Rearranging, ordering things in a specific way
  • Counting numbers repeatedly
  • Compulsive checking on things like door locks, stove knobs
  • Repeated touching of objects
  • Seeking repeated reassurance
  • Feeling the need to repeatedly tell or confess

When to worry?

We all have fears and worries. People with OCD take these fears and worries to a higher level. If you find these in your daily life, consult a professional and find out the reasons.
  • When an obsession or compulsion takes too much of your energy
  • When the compulsions start to disrupt the daily work, employment, or social relationships.
  • The thoughts of harming oneself or others are uncontrollable.
  • Avoiding some actions creates great anxiety and distress.

Cognitive Distortions And OCD:

How you interpret events matter. Distortions in your thinking can contribute to the presence of OCD.  Listed below are some of the ways that Cognitive Distortions can impact OCD.

Over-Importance of Thoughts:

Some people cognitively fuse their thoughts with their action, a thought-action fusion. For instance, if the thought of hurting someone comes to your mind, you interpret it as if you have done it or you are going to do it in the future. Although the thought is harmless itself, your interpretation makes you avoid that person to prevent any harm.

Intolerance of Emotional discomfort:

People with OCD seek continuous assurance, a compulsion, from others because they believe that they can’t withstand negative emotions.

Overestimation of Danger and Consequences:

One of the reasons behind OCD is the overestimation of consequences. For instance, believing that you have germs on your hands and you’ll die. A person without OCD will wash their hand and relax. But people with OCD can’t.

Inflation of Responsibility:

People with OCD can believe that they are responsible for everything. For instance, if they have a car accident, they may believe that if they had left their office on time, they would not have had the accident. As a result, they become compulsive about leaving the office on time, not a second before or after.

Need For Certainty:

OCD and the unrealistic need for certainty are closely related. If you have OCD, you will try your best to control consequences even if that is not possible.

Causes of OCD:

The exact causes of OCD are unknown but there are risk factors involved in the disease.  OCD symptoms usually develop in childhood or young adulthood. It can be learned behaviors that later on take the form of OCD. Another reason for OCD may be the lower levels of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. There also may be a genetic link involved. In addition, a higher level of overall anxiety can be a factor in the development of OCD. 

How to deal with OCD (Self-help tips)

These are the things that you can do to reduce the effects of OCD.
  • Learn about OCD and what you are going through to better understand your thought process and compulsions.
  • Accept that OCD is affecting your life.
  • Get information on different treatment options available.
  • Relax your mindby using relaxing techniques like meditation and breathing techniques.
  • Exercise: research has shown that regular exercise helps reduce the symptoms of OCD by lowering the levels of anxiety and depression related to it.
  • Write your obsessive thoughts and obsession triggers. You should also write down the compulsions you performed to ease the fear. This will help you understand what triggers them and how you can manage them.
  • Delay your compulsions. Make yourself aware of the fears to be an exaggeration and challenge your obsession by delaying the compulsions.
  • Reduce the compulsions gradually. Try to perform them lesser than usual.
  • Create your support system. Ask for professional help. Ask friends and family to help you out in getting out of this illness.
  • Be mindful of changes. Celebrate little improvements. It’s a long road. You have come this far and you can do it.
  • Be considerate of the symptoms getting better or worse. The symptoms can decrease or increase during different situations and environments. If the symptoms worsen, Make sure to inform your therapist.

Treatment for OCD:

OCD is a life-consuming illness and can co-occur with other disorders.  OCD can be chronic and can affect a person’s ability to perform daily work and social interactions. Fortunately, OCD is treatable, and treatment can significantly decrease the anxiety associated with OCD. Some therapies, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and certain medications, can help reduce the symptoms of OCD. Therapy can help you manage the symptoms OCD and learn new coping skills to overcome the OCD.
New Dimensions Can Help!
If you are struggling with OCD or other mental health or substance abuse issues, New Dimensions can help.  Our Online Intensive Outpatient Treatment Programs are available to anyone who resides within the State of Texas, including Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, Lubbock, College Station, El Paso, Laredo, and Houston.  We also have Intensive Outpatient Treatment Programs onsite at Katy, The Woodlands, and Houston, Texas.  To learn more about our programs, visit our website at or contact us at 1-800-685-9796.

02 March, 2021

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