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Illustration of cogs inside a head with the letters "OCD"

OCD: It’s Not Always What You Think

Oct 5, 2021
Behavioral Health
OCD manifests in a wide variety of ways (outside of excessive cleanliness or neatness). Learn more about this disorder that currently affects 2 million U.S. adults.

Often, people automatically think of the OCD sufferer as someone who feels compelled to repetitively hand wash or becomes anxious if their pens aren’t perfectly aligned. But these representations depict only a fraction of the numerous ways this disorder manifests.

In order to be formally diagnosed with OCD by a mental health professional, an individual must experience obsessions and/or compulsions, which impair daily functioning (at home, work, school, etc.).

Although we most often hear about contamination OCD, the various OCD themes (obsessions and related fears) can be as diverse as each individual sufferer. Below are just some of the less-talked-about OCD themes:

  • Sensorimotor OCD involves hyperawareness of bodily processes or sensations (blinking, swallowing, etc.). Sufferers often fear that they might never be able to stop being aware of the bodily process or sensation. Common compulsions include googling symptoms, ruminating and distraction.
  • Scrupulosity OCD centers around the excessive concern that the sufferer might have violated a religious doctrine or moral code. A common core fear is that the sufferer might somehow be punished for his or her indiscretions. Compulsions might include excessive prayer, multiple visits to confession and reassurance-seeking.
  • Harm OCD focuses on the possibility that the sufferer might harm someone around them (physically, mentally and/or emotionally) either purposely or accidentally. Common compulsions might include testing to see if harm will be caused by a certain act and asking others for reassurance that the sufferer won’t commit a harmful act.
  • Sexual Orientation OCD involves the obsession that the sufferer might have a sexual identity other than his or her own (I know I’m gay, but what if I’m actually heterosexual?). Common compulsions might include staring at someone to “test” if there’s attraction, physically checking the groin for arousal or self-reassurance.
  • Existential OCD centers around obsessions related to one’s own existence (What is my purpose? What’s the meaning of life? Am I real?). Compulsions might include trying to “figure out” the answers to these questions, testing (looking for a reflection in a mirror to determine whether the sufferer exists), researching/reading about philosophy to find the “truth” about life and existence.
  • Relationship OCD might be partner-centered (Is he “the one” for me?), relationship-focused (Are we really happy together?) or both. The core fear is often that the sufferer might be stuck in the wrong relationship forever. Common compulsions include comparisons to others’ relationships, monitoring one’s own feelings of attraction/love for the partner or confessing feelings of doubt to a partner.

Although there are many different subtypes of OCD, the most effective, evidence-based treatment is the same for all of them: Exposure and Response Prevention and/or medication.

If you are struggling with symptoms of OCD, Travco Behavioral Health can help. Contact us today!

Illustration of cogs inside a head with the letters "OCD"

OCD: It’s Not Always What You Think

Oct 5, 2021
Behavioral Health
OCD manifests in a wide variety of ways (outside of excessive cleanliness or neatness). Learn more about this disorder that currently affects 2 million U.S. adults.

Often, people automatically think of the OCD sufferer as someone who feels compelled to repetitively hand wash or becomes anxious if their pens aren’t perfectly aligned. But these representations depict only a fraction of the numerous ways this disorder manifests.

In order to be formally diagnosed with OCD by a mental health professional, an individual must experience obsessions and/or compulsions, which impair daily functioning (at home, work, school, etc.).

Although we most often hear about contamination OCD, the various OCD themes (obsessions and related fears) can be as diverse as each individual sufferer. Below are just some of the less-talked-about OCD themes:

  • Sensorimotor OCD involves hyperawareness of bodily processes or sensations (blinking, swallowing, etc.). Sufferers often fear that they might never be able to stop being aware of the bodily process or sensation. Common compulsions include googling symptoms, ruminating and distraction.
  • Scrupulosity OCD centers around the excessive concern that the sufferer might have violated a religious doctrine or moral code. A common core fear is that the sufferer might somehow be punished for his or her indiscretions. Compulsions might include excessive prayer, multiple visits to confession and reassurance-seeking.
  • Harm OCD focuses on the possibility that the sufferer might harm someone around them (physically, mentally and/or emotionally) either purposely or accidentally. Common compulsions might include testing to see if harm will be caused by a certain act and asking others for reassurance that the sufferer won’t commit a harmful act.
  • Sexual Orientation OCD involves the obsession that the sufferer might have a sexual identity other than his or her own (I know I’m gay, but what if I’m actually heterosexual?). Common compulsions might include staring at someone to “test” if there’s attraction, physically checking the groin for arousal or self-reassurance.
  • Existential OCD centers around obsessions related to one’s own existence (What is my purpose? What’s the meaning of life? Am I real?). Compulsions might include trying to “figure out” the answers to these questions, testing (looking for a reflection in a mirror to determine whether the sufferer exists), researching/reading about philosophy to find the “truth” about life and existence.
  • Relationship OCD might be partner-centered (Is he “the one” for me?), relationship-focused (Are we really happy together?) or both. The core fear is often that the sufferer might be stuck in the wrong relationship forever. Common compulsions include comparisons to others’ relationships, monitoring one’s own feelings of attraction/love for the partner or confessing feelings of doubt to a partner.

Although there are many different subtypes of OCD, the most effective, evidence-based treatment is the same for all of them: Exposure and Response Prevention and/or medication.

If you are struggling with symptoms of OCD, Travco Behavioral Health can help. Contact us today!

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Additional Wisdom & Stories

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