What is OCD?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) causes repeated unwanted or intrusive thoughts (obsessions) and irrational, uncontrollable urges to perform specific actions (compulsions).

Obsessions take various forms. For example, you might constantly think about causing harm or hurting someone even though you’re nonviolent. You might find it impossible to believe you’ve done tasks correctly, even things as simple as locking your door and turning off a light.

Some people’s intrusive thoughts contain unpleasant sexual images. Or you might be scared of doing or saying something inappropriate in public. Whatever your obsessions are, compulsions will likely develop to match them.

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What compulsions does OCD cause?

Compulsions are repeated acts or rituals that provide temporary relief from the stress obsessions cause.

You might feel sure that something terrible will happen to you or others if you don’t carry out a specific ritual. For example, you might be convinced that if you don’t close your front door seven times when you leave the house, it will trigger an earthquake.

Other compulsions include hand-washing in people with a fear of germs and repeatedly counting money to ensure that the total is correct. Many people with OCD are obsessed with neatness and symmetry, which compels them to have all their possessions perfectly ordered and arranged.

What causes OCD?

Defining the cause of OCD isn’t straightforward. You’re more likely to get OCD if another family member has the condition. You might develop OCD if you have an anxiety disorder — anxiety is a key feature of OCD.

Research indicates that brain activity is different in people with OCD. They tend to have problems making or using neurotransmitter chemicals like serotonin that help stabilize mood.

How is OCD treated?

Nola Ayoola-Yussuf at Potomac Shores Mental Health and Wellness evaluates your condition, talking to you about your obsessions and compulsions and how they affect your life. She then designs a personalized treatment plan for you that combines talk therapies and medication.

Antidepressant medicines called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) reduce the OCD symptoms of many patients. Nola also uses psychotherapy to relieve obsessions and compulsions.

Two helpful approaches for OCD are cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT) and exposure-and-response therapy (ERT). CBT shows you how to reassess the flawed thoughts your obsessions and compulsions cause. ERT helps you learn to tolerate the anxiety caused by obsessive thoughts without resorting to compulsive rituals.

Call Potomac Shores Mental Health and Wellness today or book an appointment online to find expert relief of OCS symptoms.