Hello Dr. Scwartz, I am 26 years old and suffering from OCD for the past 6-7 years. But as I don’t like to discuss these things with some other person, even a doctor, it is left untreated. Initially I thought I would be able to overcome it but this is not what happened. Now this thing is playing havoc in my day to day life. I always check and recheck all the things and fill my mind with unnecessary details. Also I tend to avoid dirt everywhere. Now a days these symptoms are getting on my nerves and I can not get over it. Seeking your advice and help…
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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder(OCD)is one of the anxiety disorders. In other words, it is an attempt to reduce anxiety through magical acts such as checking and re checking. It is marked by the fact that the person feels an overwhelming need to perform the repetitive acts even though they realize it is nonsense to do such things. If the person attempts to force his/her self to not do the acts there is an increased sense of anxiety and alarm.
Another characteristic of OCD is chronic doubt. This means that the person with OCD is never certain that they have performed the repetitive act correctly or completely. This is why there is the constant need to check and recheck. One example of this is the OCD afflicted person who is never certain that the doors to the house are really locked at night before bedtime. They must go downstairs and make certain that all windows are shut and all locks on the doors are secure. However, once they get into bed they are plagued by the nagging doubt that they may have overlooked a door or window and they must repeat the process.
Very often, the repetitive acts are accompanied by ritualistic types of thoughts that are also magical in nature and that are intrusive and unwanted. The individuals who are afflicted by OCD feel very embarrassed by this problem and do try to hide it from others. They sometimes fear they are going crazy. In addition to anxiety, OCD is often includes feelings of depression.
It is important for you to know that you are not going crazy and that it is understandable that you feel too embarrassed to discuss this with a doctor. At the very same time, OCD is very common and is very treatable.
For the treatment of OCD I want to urge you to see a Clinical Psychologist or Licensed Clinical Social Worker who is fully trained and skillful in the use of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy(CBT) and Behavior Modification. OCD has been found to respond well Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, particularly with the emphasis on behavior modification.
There are some individuals whose OCD symptoms are particularly resistant to even these therapies unless medications are used.
While medications can be helpful, my experience has been that the behavioral therapy is what really helps eliminate the symptoms that interfere with life.
Therefore, to urge you to seek psychotherapy, particularly the types discussed and, if needed, add medication later.
Best of Luck