Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, or OCD, is an anxiety disorder in which people experience recurring unwanted/intrusive thoughts, ideas, images, or urges (obsessions) that cause intense distress. Sometimes people with OCD only experience obsessions. Other times, these obsessions drive people with OCD to perform actions repeatedly (compulsions) to dispel the unwanted obsessions. Compulsions can include behaviors like hand washing, checking on things, cleaning, and more. While these are normal behaviors on their own, with OCD obsessions can cause intense distress and pressure a person with the disorder to perform compulsions repeatedly and sometimes to the extreme, regardless of their effect on a person’s daily life or well-being.

Some common intrusive thoughts or obsessions:

  • Fear of contamination, such as bodily fluids, germs, dirt, etc.
  • A fear of losing control, such as harming one’s self or others on impulse, or a fear that failure to perform a compulsion will result in the harm of the self or others
  • Unwanted or intrusive thoughts, such as horrific or disgusting imagery, perverse sexual thoughts, or sexual obsessions
  • Obsession with getting certain diseases or physical conditions
  • Belief in lucky numbers or colors, etc.
  • Obsession with objects, such as a need for evenness or exactness; an intense fear of loss when throwing something out and/or an inability to decide whether to keep or throw out objects

Some common compulsions, which are behaviors that help a person reduce the distress caused by obsessions:

  • Washing and cleaning - Frequent, intense cleaning of the home and/or washing of the self, such as repeated handwashing, showering, or brushing one’s teeth.
  • Repeating - This may include repeating names, phrases, or actions such as going in and out of doorways, blinking, tapping, etc. multiple times or in certain patterns to dispel anxiety.
  • Checking – repeatedly checking door locks, light switches, whether the oven is on, whether they have made a mistake, etc.
  • Ordering or arranging – Arranging items such as clothes, books, or other objects in a specific order, or specific number, or a symmetric pattern to reduce discomfort.

The degree to which a person experiences these obsessions and/or compulsions is an important factor in determining the diagnosis of OCD. A person concerned with cleanliness may frequently wash their hands—someone with OCD may continue to wash their hands until their skin is raw and cracking.

If you have or think you may have OCD, ACP is here to help. We offer individual therapy as well as psychiatric services for those who might benefit from medication. Call 612-925-6033 to schedule an evaluation, or fill out our online form to have one of our schedulers contact you.

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With six clinics, ACP is able to offer our clients extended hours and their choice of location. To schedule an appointment, you can contact us online or choose the clinic location most convenient for you:

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