Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder that often causes sufferers to experience obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors. It affects about 2% of people in the United States, with more men than women being diagnosed with the condition.
If you suffer from this illness, it can be hard to function in everyday life and may make it difficult to maintain a job or other responsibilities. Fortunately, there are plenty of treatments available, and most people who have OCD get better over time.
The Difference between Anxiety and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
It’s a common misconception that all anxiety disorders are caused by Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), but actually, they are separate disorders. Even though people with an anxiety disorder can be prone to symptoms of OCD such as repetitive behaviors or thoughts, it doesn’t necessarily mean they have an OCD diagnosis.
Instead, they may simply have similar symptoms to those suffering from OCD. So what differentiates someone with an anxiety disorder and someone who has been diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder? There are two things you need to look at: duration and number of obsessions and compulsions.
Types of OCD
There are three main types of obsessive-compulsive disorder. The first, and most common, is categorized as having obsessions, which are intrusive and upsetting thoughts that occur without any external triggers. The second type is categorized by repetitive compulsive behaviors (known as compulsions) to relieve anxiety caused by these obsessions.
The third type involves both of these symptoms but in different forms—for example, a person who fears germs may wash his or her hands over and over again until they’re raw or cracking; another person with a similar obsession might repeatedly check whether doors have been locked.
Causes of OCD
The causes of obsessive-compulsive disorder are not known. Experts believe that problems with brain chemistry, genetics, and stress may cause or contribute to OCD. A person’s age may also play a role. The disorder usually starts in late childhood or early adolescence, but it can start at any age. Some people only have one bout of symptoms and never develop it again. Others have multiple episodes throughout their life that are separated by years of good health.
Common Symptoms in Children with OCD
In children, common obsessions include concerns about getting sick from contact with germs, being contaminated by harmful substances, or thinking that a family member may be harmed. Children with OCD may think that their clothes do not match, fear being punished by their parents, or worry excessively about something trivial, such as whether they turned off a light switch.
Common compulsions in children also include excessive washing and cleaning; checking locks; repeating activities many times over to ensure correctness (such as counting); or asking repeatedly for reassurance.
Suicide in People with OCD
OCD doesn’t usually exist in a vacuum; many people with OCD also struggle with depression, anxiety, or other psychiatric conditions. It’s not uncommon for someone with OCD to experience suicidal thoughts and attempts at suicide. And unfortunately, there’s evidence that suggests that suicide is more common among individuals who have been diagnosed with OCD than in those without a diagnosis of mental illness.
Treatments for OCD
There are several things you can do if you are suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). By adopting healthy habits and finding new ways to manage stress, you may be able to alleviate your symptoms or reduce their severity. In addition, there are several different types of therapy that can help with treatment. Some of these therapies include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), exposure and response prevention (ERP), psychodynamic psychotherapy, and family-based therapy.
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