Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a psychiatric and psychological mental health condition that is estimated to affect the lives of 2.3 percent of the general population (Ruscio, Stein, and Kessler, 2010). It is characterized by overwhelming thoughts, urges, and sensations that are usually unwanted and intrusive. People who suffer from OCD can experience unbearable levels of anxiety, as well as catastrophic and disturbing thought content. To reduce or avoid the discomfort caused by these unwanted and distressing internal events, people develop “rituals” that are time-consuming and destructive. These rituals are created to help neutralize or cope with intense anxiety, which fuels the exhausting cycle of OCD. There are different types of obsessions, which are listed below.
Contamination OCD is one of the most well-known types of OCD where "sufferers who are concerned that one item that they see as unacceptably unclean will cause other things to become unclean (including themselves) and that they are responsible for making sure this does not occur (Hershfield and Corboy, 2020)." Typical triggers for Contamination OCD sufferers include: Items used by the public, fecal matter, blood, other bodily fluids, poison (or anything perceived as poisonous), alcohol and other drugs, anything associated with illness, and anything to which one has a strong disgust response. Common compulsions found in contamination OCD include: Specific washing and cleaning rituals, avoidance of things viewed as contaminated, mental review of whether contact has been made with contaminants, asking others for reassurance, seeking reassurance online, and memory hoarding of contact with contaminants.
This is a common manifestation of OCD. People who suffer from SO-OCD often experience recurrent, unwanted thoughts about one’s own sexuality. The compulsive behavior usually falls into three areas: reassurance, avoidance, and repeating actions. Someone who is suffering from SO-OCD will usually try to reassure themselves that they are not gay. This may include asking others if they walk or talk a certain way that would make them appear gay. They will also engage in avoidance, which may include avoiding people of the same gender with fears that being around them may bring about unwanted fears that they may be gay. Fears about sending out signals that may attract the same sex. Lastly, repeating actions with worries that they may have done something that would confirm a fear that they are gay or that others may think this way about them. Some may even engage in sexual acts to prove to themselves that they are not gay with hopes that they will feel some level of disgust. SO-OCD can be extremely debilitating inducing crippling levels of anxiety.
This is a form of OCD involves one having obsessions about disappointing God, not being moral enough, good enough, or sinning in the future or past. To neutralize the anxiety brought on by these unwanted thoughts or obsessions, one may engage in mental or physical rituals, such as repeating prayers, engaging in repetitive religious practice, avoiding looking at an attractive person with thoughts of punishment by God. This type of OCD can be exhausting and debilitating to one's life.
This is a manifestation of OCD in which one experiences intrusive, unwanted thoughts of causing harm to themselves or others. Although they do not believe they would engage in such an act, the OCD thinks the opposite. The intrusive thoughts can be violent and cause a lot of distress. Individuals suffering from this type of OCD often believe that they must be certain and in absolute control at all times. If not, they fear that they may be responsible for another's harm or death. An example would be tracking steps or following a specific route on the way home from work. One that they could be sure would not harm anyone.
This is a form of OCD in which the sufferer is consumed with doubts about their relationship. They question their love for their partner, their attraction to their partner, their compatibility with their partner, and their partner’s love for them. For example, one may continually be comparing their relationship to others, seeking out reassurance from their partner commitment to them, or sizing up their partner and being overly critical about their appearance. This type of OCD can be not only exhausting to the one suffering from it and can destroy a potentially good relationship.
Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder characterized by symptoms of anxiety in situations where the person perceives their environment to be unsafe. The person may feel trapped with no easy way to escape. These situations can include open spaces, public transit, shopping centers, or simply being outside their home. To cope they develop a comfort zone and will usually not leave their comfort zone. This anxiety disorder is perhaps one of the most debilitating; however, there is help. It is treatable with the help of a professional using CBT and/or ACT with exposure therapy.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is an anxiety disorder that is characterized by excessive worry over a number of different things. Someone with GAD will find themselves worrying about everyday life situations such as, bills, health, family, friends, work, just to name a few. GAD can be quite distressing, and people will usually find it very difficult to control. This anxiety disorder is treatable and can be overcome with the help of a professional.
Hoarding disorder is a persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them. A person with hoarding disorder experiences distress at the thought of getting rid of the items. Excessive accumulation of items, regardless of actual value, occurs. It can be related to compulsive buying (e.g., never passing up a bargain), the compulsive acquisition of free items (e.g., collecting flyers), or the compulsive search for perfect or unique items. Hoarding is a disorder that may be present on its own or as a symptom of another disorder. Those most often associated with hoarding are obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and depression.
Panic Disorder shares a similar role as a phobia. Someone who is suffering from Panic Disorder is usually is consumed by an overwhelming fear of having a panic attack. Therefore, one may start avoiding many situations because they fear they may have a panic attack. This is another debilitating disorder, which often leads to isolation and depression. Panic Disorder is treatable by working with a professional using CBT and/or ACT.
Social Phobia is an anxiety disorder that is more specific as it becomes present in social situations. It is characterized by an excessive and persistent fear and avoidance of situations that involve social interaction and evaluation by others. Persons with such problems then to be particularly concerned about being negatively evaluated by others, show heightened awareness of autonomic activity in social situations, and experience real or perceived social inadequacy. Social Phobia can be extremely debilitating and often leads to isolation from others. This anxiety disorder is treatable by working with a professional using CBT and/or ACT with exposure therapy.
Specific Phobia is characterized as having an overwhelming fear of a specific place, thing, or situation. For example, fear of flying, having blood drawn, animals, closed spaces, heights, just to name a few. The list of fears is unlimited, and they all are treatable with the help of a professional using CBT and/or ACT with exposure therapy.
Trichotillomania (hair pulling)
Trichotillomania, also called hair-pulling disorder, is a mental disorder that involves recurrent, irresistible urges to pull out hair from your scalp, eyebrows or other areas of your body, despite trying to stop. Trichotillomania is one of a group of behaviors known as body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs), self-grooming behaviors in which individuals pull, pick, scrape, or bite their hair, skin, or nails, resulting in damage to the body. Hair pulling may occur across a variety of settings and both sedentary and active activities. Due to shame and embarrassment, individuals not only try to cover up the effects of trichotillomania, but may avoid activities and social situations which may lead them to feel vulnerable to being “discovered.”
And many other anxiety-related concerns!
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