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Living with a mental health condition can be challenging, but the proper treatment offers hope for those individuals to get help managing their symptoms. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) affects many areas of an individual’s life. During OCD Awareness Week, it’s important to understand whether OCD is an anxiety disorder as well as the treatment options available to someone suffering from the condition.

OCD Awareness Week

October 10-16 is designatedas OCD Awareness Week. The recognition started in 2009, as a way to share knowledge and to reduce the stigma around OCD and other mental health disorders. Education and awareness can make a huge difference in the lives of those with OCD and their family and friends. The focus of the week highlights the importance of living a value-driven life with OCD and works toward educating the public about what it means to live with the disorder.

Affecting Millions of People

OCD is a common mental health conditionthat affects millions of people. About 1 in 40 adults and 1 in 100 children in the US are diagnosed with the disorder. They experience both obsessions and compulsions. An obsession is an intrusive thought or urge, usually unwanted, that can cause distress or anxiety. A compulsion is a behavior that an individual feels they must perform to ease their distress or anxiety. They may also develop the compulsion as a way to attempt to suppress their obsessive thoughts. Individuals with OCD can experience a range of obsessions and compulsions.

Generally, individuals with OCD recognize that their obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors are not rational. However, they continue to feel a strong need to follow through on them. In fact, they may spend several hours every day focusing on these obsessions and performing compulsive rituals.

Without the proper treatment, the condition can seriously impact an individual’s normal routine, at work and at home. Treatment gives them hope that they can regain control and get relief from their symptoms.

OCD Is an Anxiety Disorder

The National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) includes OCD among the five anxiety disorders. Obsessions can cause anxiety within the individual who is dealing with their recurrent and unwanted thoughts. They then perform the compulsive rituals in an attempt to make the thoughts go away, but the compulsive behavior provides only temporary relief. If the person does not perform the rituals, the anxiety increases.

OCD Symptoms

The symptomsof OCD can cause even more anxiety, as they interfere with the individual’s ability to function normally each day. Symptoms of obsession include:

  • A fear of germs or contamination
  • The need to make sure things are symmetrical or in a perfect order
  • Unwanted thoughts seen as forbidden or taboo, involving sex, religion, or harm
  • Aggressive thoughts towards others or themselves.

Compulsive symptoms include:

  • Ordering and arranging things in a precise manner
  • Excessive cleaning and/or handwashing
  • Repeatedly checking on things, such as repeatedly checking to see if the door is locked or that the oven has been turned off
  • Counting compulsively.

In addition, a person with OCD typically:

  • Spends at least one hour a day on their obsessive thoughts or compulsive behaviors
  • Can’t control their thoughts or behaviors, even when they are recognized as excessive
  • Doesn’t get any pleasure from performing the behaviors or rituals, but may feel brief relief from the anxiety the thoughts cause
  • Experiences significant problems in their daily life as a result of these thoughts or behaviors.

The symptoms can ease over time or they could get worse. An individual with OCD may try to avoid situations that trigger their obsessions. They may also turn to drugs or alcohol in an attempt to calm their anxiety. This can lead to an addiction that can further damage the individual’s mental and physical health.

Hope for Your Anxiety Disorder

Help is available at Hope by the Sea, a southern California addiction treatment center. We offer personalized treatment for mood disorders and addiction, as we focus on helping you begin your journey of recovery from substance use and mental health issues. We specialize in treating you as a whole individual, so you can embrace your recovery with as much support and momentum as possible.

Our team continues to follow federal, state, and local public health guidelines regarding COVID-19 to ensure our clients’ safety. Please contact us today to learn more about our programs and services. Hope Starts Here!