Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a term that is frequently used, rarely understood, and often missed in diagnosis.
In most cases, when we refer to somebody who is obsessive-compulsive, we are referring to habits and mannerisms that are finicky or detail-oriented or one who has difficulty with responsibility, generally a “Type A” personality. This is not a disease. This is a part of a person’s profile and only becomes a problem in the extreme, when it interferes with daily functioning.
The true diagnosis of “obsessive-compulsive disorder,” on the other hand, is entirely different.
Experts estimate that between 1-3% of the population has obsessive-compulsive disorder, but most people do not seek treatment because of the embarrassment they feel.
Individuals with OCD are often embarrassed by irrational obsessions (thoughts) or compulsions (behaviors) such as the following:
- Repetitively washing their hands
- Compulsively checking the door over and over again to see if it is locked
- Persistent fear that they forgot to turn off the stove
- Picking at one’s skin or pulling at one’s own hair
- Fears of being contaminated by touching certain object or other people
- Constantly counting and recounting
- Obsessively organizing
Understandably, these are not desirable behaviors — but in people with OCD, attempting to resist them they can cause enormous amount of stress.
Fortunately, today we have a number of treatments that can be highly effective for OCD. If a person with obsessive-compulsive disorder is properly diagnosed and treated, he or she can lead a normal lifestyle.
At Sierra Tucson, patients sometimes come in with a diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive disorder. More often, it is detected during our comprehensive evaluation. Once identified, the problem becomes part of the patient’s treatment plan.
OCD treatment consists of cognitive therapy and/or medication therapy, along with the other treatment modalities used at Sierra Tucson.