There’s a running joke in our house about how I act a little “OCD” sometimes. But lately, the joke is not so funny because I’m really getting worried that my “routines” actually might be turning into a disorder like OCD. I’m not sure if I’m just super picky about things or if this is an actual problem. I find that my routines (like what I do before I leave the house like locking doors, turning out lights, etc.) are taking longer and longer to do. Sometimes I do it once but sometimes I can’t leave my house until I do it three or four times. I just don’t trust myself to do it right, and I’m afraid my kids are going to feel compelled to do things just like I do them. Can OCD be contagious? How do I know when this becomes something I need to talk to a doctor about?
You raise an interesting question. The phrase “I’m a little OCD” is casually tossed around in today’s society. Let’s take a moment to consider how mental health professionals think about obsessive-compulsive disorder. Think about it like this: your brain is the clearinghouse for your thoughts and emotions. For some people, the brain can get stuck on certain thoughts. These thoughts make you believe that you are in imminent danger, and this can lead to feelings of anxiety.
Anxiety causes you to panic, and your brain turns to solutions to get rid of that feeling. For people with OCD, compulsions are the brain’s solution to obsessive thoughts. These compulsions lead to relief from overwhelming feelings of anxiety. If you were suffering from OCD, there would be nothing pleasurable about acting on compulsions, yet you believe these actions are the only way to protect yourself from threats against you and your family.
Compulsions can include things like ordering, counting, cleaning, putting things in a particular order (symmetry), or checking to make sure nothing bad has happened to the people you love.
Since people with OCD derive no pleasure from acting on their compulsions, they’ll go out of their way to avoid situations that could trigger obsessions or compulsions. People with OCD believe these actions are the only way to protect themselves, and they would prefer to be doing anything else. People with OCD don’t believe they have a choice in acting on their compulsions. These actions help relieve the intensity of their obsessive thoughts for a short amount of time.
OCD is prevalent in a little over 1 percent of the population. While OCD is not contagious per se, it is more common in first-degree relatives. I tell you this with caution. It’s important not to self-diagnose or to begin diagnosing other members of your family. I would encourage you to seek the opinion of a mental health professional before jumping to conclusions.
People who suffer from OCD differ significantly from people who may consider themselves perfectionists that prefer order and people who enjoy arranging things in a certain way. People who enjoy ordering their home or their possessions are not necessarily suffering from OCD. If you have doubts as to which category you might fall into, Ozark Guidance can help. Please contact us at 479-750-2020.
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Disclaimer: This RESPONSE does not provide medical advice It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on nwaMotherlode or Ozark Guidance websites.