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Do I Have OCD?

Question:

I’m only 14 years old and I am not completely sure if i have OCD or not. I’ve seen television shows on people who have OCD but i haven’t seen anybody quite like me. I have an obsession of making sure everything is even. Such as, my room has many posters and stuff hanging on the walls, and I spend hours making sure that the poster on one side of the wall is in the exact same spot on the other side of the wall. I do this with many things like money, items in my bathroom cabinet, stuff on desks, mostly anything that i can fix. Another thing i obsess about is making things even on my body. Like if someone pokes me repeatedly on my right arm, i poke myself on my left arm in the exact same spot until they are even. But that’s only sometimes. So I was wondering if maybe you could tell me if this is normal or not?? Thanks for your time

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Answer:

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p> If by ‘normal’ you mean, is this behavior commonly observed in other people, the answer is no – this straightening and poking behavior is not typical. If by ‘normal’ you mean, “Do I have a condition” I can’t really say. I don’t have enough information, first of all. More importantly, it isn’t appropriate to try and make a diagnosis of any sort online in this sort of forum. Really, a local psychiatrist will be most competent to diagnose you and, if appropriate, to offer you treatment for any conditions you might have. I encourage you to see a local psychiatrist to have yourself checked out, as soon as is reasonably possible for you to do so. Seeing the doctor will help you to get an answer one way or another, and to get pointed in a right direction for help if a real problem is present.

<

p> In considering whether you have OCD or not, a doctor will reference the the Diagnositic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which is the manual containing definitions of mental disorders used in the United States. The DSM basically has the following to say about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

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p>

  1. In order to qualify for a diagnosis of OCD (which can occur in childhood, teen years or adulthood) you have to show evidence of having Obsessions, Compulsions, or both. Obsessions are basically recurring anxiety-producing thoughts or impulses, and Compulsions are basically behaviors that people undertake to try to reduce their obsessions.

    In order to meet criteria for Obsessions you have to demonstrate:

    • recurring and persistant thoughts, impulses or images that cause anxiety and which are inappropriate to your situation (e.g., they aren’t normal appropriate worries about real-life problems)
    • You work to suppress, ignore, or otherwise neutralize these thoughts, impulses or images (e.g., to try to get rid of them)
    • You recognize that these thoughts, worries or images are the product of your own mind (e.g., you aren’t hallucinating or having a delusion as would be the case if you had become psychotic)

    In order to meet criteria for Compulsions you have to demonstrate:

    • repetitive behavior or mental actions you feel driven to perform because of the presence of obsessions, or according to rules that must be applied rigidly.
    • You act out these behaiviors becuase they help you to prevent or reduce feeling distress
    • These behaviors are not connected in a realistic way with what they are designed to prevent, or are clearly excessive.

  2. In either case, you must have recognized that your obessions and/or compulsions are excessive or unreasonable

  3. The obessions or compulsions case you real distress, take up a lot of your time, or make it difficult for you to manage your regular routine

  4. No other illness or condition is present that might account for these symptoms

<

p> There are several routes for therapy with regard to OCD. Medication can be prescribed which can help make obsessions and compulsions less urgent and troubling. There are also several forms of psychotherapy which may offer some relief. Probably the most widely available and best for you to try would be cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). In cognitive-behavioral therapy a therapist will teach you how to test your thoughts for reasonableness and dispute those which are unreasonable. The therapist will also help you develop strategies for coping with anxiety-provoking situations.

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Comments
  • Anonymous-1

    I am always woundering if i have ocd becuase i watch t.v. shows that have people with it on there but i am not really like any of them. When I write something i write it over and over again until it is perfect. Does that mean anything? also when i am dialing a number on the phone I make sure i do it to a certain beat and if it is off beat i have do it again. Should I get therapy or tell my doctor?

    Editor's Note: If these behaviors of yours disturb you, by all means you should seek help for them. The behaviors you describe are OCD-ish in spectrum, but not by themselves adequate to meet any sort of clinical criteria for diagnosis.

  • Morgan

    I have been wondering for a couple years now if I have OCD. It started probably two years ago with just little things that weren't a big deal. Everyone has their little OCD things they do, so I wasn't worried about it. I'm sixteen now and it seems to be getting worse. There are many odd things I do, some even interrupting my everyday routines. I have to have the salt and pepper shakers lined up just right. I can't go to bed unless my shoes, purse, glasses and other things are in their "proper places." I re-check if I think I forgot something. I can't use certain dishes. I examine all my food before eating it. I have to let go of most objects with two hands and touch some things a repeated number of times until it feels right. I can't continue with what I'm doing until it feels right. People in my everyday life, like at school are starting to notice these things. Most of these things have to do with me thinking they will make me sick because I'm afraid of throwing up, or that something will go wrong if I don't do these little rituals. Do you think I have OCD?

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