There are moments in our lives when many of us say to ourselves, or to others, “I know that’s a little OCD,” about one of our seemingly quirky behaviors. There are people that have to put 18 blueberry’s on their oatmeal every morning. Some have to touch their phone 3 times with each pointer finger, before hanging up. Others clean their stove top to bottom thoroughly every single day. These behaviors may sound a little silly, and sometimes they can be.
The question is when are these unusual actions actually the symptoms of something more serious? How do you know when a behavior has become more of an obsession than a quirk? What are the signs that you actually have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?
First and foremost, let me explain what Obsessive Compulsive Disorder constitutes. According to Psychiatry.com, “Obsessive-compulsive disorder...is an anxiety disorder in which people have recurring, unwanted thoughts, ideas or sensations (obsessions) that make them feel driven to do something repetitively (compulsions). The repetitive behaviors, such as hand washing, checking on things or cleaning, can significantly interfere with a person’s daily activities and social interactions.”
To clarify, OCD transfers anxiety into compulsive actions to such a degree that often your day to day life is consumed by them. Getting out of bed, through your morning and out the door is often impossible, without completing these all-consuming tasks or behaviors over and over again. Your personal and work life may be so disordered that others may have pulled away from you or shared how alarming your compulsions are to them. If this is the case, you are not alone. Around 2.3% of the US population has been diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. That correlates into roughly 1 in 40, adults no matter their race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic background.
Once you begin to begin to question your behaviors, you can ask yourself a few questions to get you started toward deciding if you need to seek help.
A Helpful Tool:
Eric Hollander MD has a more in-depth list of questions you can ask yourself in the following article from Psychology Today. Again this isn’t an actual diagnosis, the questions are meant as a tool for you to see if you feel the need to find a therapist to help you.
Briefly, ask yourself:
Am I spending more than an hour each day on these behaviors?
Does this anxiety cause me overwhelming distress?
Am I able to stop the obsessive actions and go on with my day?
Is the life I am living so affected by these obsessions that I am no longer living the life I want to live?
Ultimately the last question is the most important one. If you find yourself so overwhelmed by repeated actions and are not able to enjoy your life, and they are adversely impacting you, then it’s time to reach out. Finding a therapist who specializes in OCD and asking for help is the next step. You can learn healthy ways to cope with your anxiety and deal with what brought you to this point.
Please remember you are not alone. There is strength in asking for help and working towards the life you want. As always, if I can be helpful in any way, please don’t hesitate to reach out! All of my information can be found here.