It is perfectly normal to worry if we’ve remembered something and to take the time to double-check. Even returning home from work to check if the oven has been left on or if the door is locked falls within the parameters of typical human behavior if it happens rarely and doesn’t disrupt normal daily functioning.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), however, can be highly destructive. A person with OCD will experience an uncontrollable desire to perform repetitive tasks and even abandon work and other personal responsibilities to perform ritualistic actions.
Furthermore, OCD and addiction often co-occur. An overwhelming body of research suggests that people with OCD have a significantly higher likelihood of experiencing a substance use disorder at some point in their lives.
If you or a loved one are struggling with OCD, we are here to help. Continue reading to learn more about this common mental health condition.
What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?
OCD is a mental health disorder marked by the performance of compulsive behaviors to alleviate intense anxiety or irrational fears that devastating consequences will occur if particular actions are not completed.
Symptoms of OCD
There are two main characteristics of OCD noted in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DCM-5): obsessions and compulsions.
Continued obsessions trigger the need to engage in compulsive behaviors.
OCD compulsions can include checking, double-checking, and triple-checking to ensure lights have been turned off or doors have been locked. While such behaviors are frequently seen as harmless or eccentric, OCD can trigger actions that can cause physical discomfort or injury when performed compulsively.
Constant vigorous hand washing, for example, can cause broken and raw skin. More severe OCD might involve hair pulling, skin picking, or other forms of self-harm.
Obsessive Signs and Symptoms
Obsessive disorders frequently involve the following:
- Fear of germs, infection, or contamination
- Inability to cope with a perceived lack of orderliness
- Experiencing repeated thoughts about harming others or being harmed
- Experiencing intrusive and unwanted thoughts about sensitive or disturbing subjects, like religion, sex, or violence
- Fear of risk
- Need to plan or manage every aspect of an activity
- Avoiding circumstances that might cause obsessive thoughts
It can be challenging to identify obsessive signs and symptoms in others. However, the most easily identifiable indications of an obsessive disorder include the following behaviors:
- Being unable to touch objects that others have touched
- Continually second-guessing that actions were performed
- Exhibiting intense anxiety or stress when possessions aren’t in a specific order or facing a particular direction
Compulsion Signs and Symptoms
Performing compulsive behaviors is not pleasurable for people with OCD. They perform repetitive actions to relieve stress or fear or to stop intrusive thoughts. Compulsion symptoms involve the following behaviors:
- Repeatedly performing tasks like washing hands, turning light switches on and off, or checking to see if doors are locked
- Repeatedly muttering a word or phrase
- Neglecting urgent tasks in favor of performing compulsive actions
While OCD includes obsessive thoughts and compulsive actions, it is possible to primarily experience either obsession or compulsion symptoms.
Causes of OCD
The exact causes of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) aren’t fully understood. However, it’s believed to be a combination of genetic, neurological, environmental, and behavioral factors.
People with a family history of OCD are at higher risk for developing the condition than the rest of the population.
OCD is more likely to manifest after experiencing abuse, assaults, or other significant trauma.
Types of OCD
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) can manifest in various ways, resulting in different types of obsessions and compulsions.
Some common types include:
- Contamination Obsessions and Cleaning/Washing Compulsions: Fear of germs, dirt, or contamination leading to excessive cleaning, hand-washing, or avoiding specific objects or situations.
- Checking: Persistent doubts about potential harm or danger, leading to repeated checking behaviors such as ensuring doors are locked, appliances are turned off, or things are in order.
- Symmetry and Order Obsessions: Need for things to be arranged symmetrically or in a specific order, leading to repetitive arranging, organizing, or aligning items.
- Intrusive Thoughts and Mental Rituals: Distressing, intrusive thoughts or mental images, often related to harming oneself or others, followed by mental rituals or repetitive behaviors to reduce anxiety.
- Hoarding: Persistent difficulty discarding possessions regardless of value leads to accumulating items that can clutter living spaces.
- Religious or Moral Obsessions: Excessive concerns about morality, ethics, or religious ideas, leading to repetitive behaviors or mental rituals related to these themes.
These types are not exclusive, and individuals may experience a combination of these obsessions and compulsions. The severity and specific manifestations can vary widely among people with OCD.
Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder vs. OCD
OCD involves distressing obsessions and compulsions that individuals feel compelled to perform to alleviate anxiety, typically recognizing these behaviors as excessive. Treatment involves therapy and medication.
Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD) entails a pervasive pattern of perfectionism, control, and preoccupation with orderliness without causing distress, as those with OCPD often perceive these traits as appropriate. Addressing OCPD can be challenging as individuals might not see a need to change their behavior, and therapy usually focuses on the impact of these traits on their lives.
Understanding the Link Between OCD and Addiction
OCD symptoms can sometimes appear because of long-term or severe substance use disorders. The condition, known as drug-induced psychosis, is caused by substance use-related brain chemistry changes.
However, substance use disorders can also amplify existing OCD symptoms. The relationship between mental health disorders like OCD and addiction requires a dedicated treatment approach that addresses both issues concurrently.
At Beach House Center for Recovery, we offer personalized treatment programs that address the underlying causes of substance use disorders, helping patients manage the emotional triggers that contribute to self-medicating behaviors.
Personalized OCD and Substance Abuse Treatment in Florida
People struggling with OCD are at a heightened risk of experiencing a substance use disorder at some point in their lives.
At Beach House, we proudly offer evidence-based therapies designed to treat the whole person with compassion and empathy. Our specialized programs provide a full spectrum of treatment plans that address the short-term effects of substance use disorder and provide tools for long-term management.
Please get in touch with our helpful admissions counselors today to learn more about our comprehensive mental health treatment in Florida.