OCD and Anxiety

OCD and Anxiety

OCD and anxiety are related, but they aren’t the same thing. While OCD and anxiety have similar symptoms, OCD is just one of many different anxiety disorders. Learning about how OCD and anxiety disorders are similar and different can help you determine which disorder you might be struggling with. However, it’s always important not to attempt to diagnose yourself but to instead seek professional help if you think you have either OCD or an anxiety disorder.

What is OCD?

OCD, or obsessive-compulsive disorder, is one of many anxiety disorders that has very specific symptoms. Whereas other anxiety disorders include generalized feelings of anxiety, OCD sufferers often are obsessed with very particular things. For instance, many OCD sufferers compulsively wash their hands because they are specifically afraid of being contaminated by germs. Generalized anxiety sufferers may worry about germs, but they may worry about many other things, as well.

Symptoms of OCD include obsessions, which take the form of repeated thoughts or ideas or impulses that the patient may have no control over. These obsessions might be around certain themes, like being orderly and symmetrical, fearing being contaminated by germs or dirt, sexual imagery and thoughts, or aggressive or terrible impulses or thoughts.

The symptoms of an OCD obsession include thoughts that you’ve hurt someone, images of hurting someone, replaying pornographic or sexual images in your head, picking at your skin or pulling at your hair, or being extremely uncomfortable when items aren’t in the right place or facing the right direction.

Obsessions are only half of OCD, though. The other half of this disorder is made of compulsions, which are things that you do in order to reduce the anxiety about your obsessions. Compulsions often follow certain rules, and they might include things like checking and double checking, performing certain actions over and over again, being incredibly orderly and tidy, washing or cleaning yourself or your home, or demanding that others reassure you about your own obsessive thoughts.

When do you know if you have OCD?

OCD and anxiety are related, so one telltale sign of OCD is being anxious about your obsessions all the time. It’s fine if you’re a bit of a perfectionist and like things to be clean or orderly. However, if you’re constantly worrying about how clean your carpet is or whether or not your knickknacks are arranged in perfect order, you might have OCD.

Those who have OCD also experience life consequences because of this problem. They may be unable to do much but focus on their obsessions and compulsions, or they may be constantly stressed out because of their obsessive thoughts and compulsions. For many OCD sufferers, compulsions take over their lives because they are never enough to satisfy the obsessions that are constantly in mind.

OCD and anxiety are very similar in many ways, which is why OCD is classified as an anxiety disorder. However, when OCD starts to take over your life, you may start to feel totally out of control. Even if you understand that your obsessions and compulsions are senseless, you may be unable to do anything about them, returning to the same actions over and over again in order to attempt to satisfy your own obsessions.

OCD and anxiety disorders that are like it are usually treatable through therapy and, sometimes, medication. Even OCD sufferers who have had the condition for years and for whom OCD compulsions are simply a way of life can learn to overcome their compulsions through therapy like cognitive-behavioral therapy, and medications may help control some of the problems related to this condition while therapy is doing the real work of solving the underlying problem.