Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a type of anxiety disorder characterized by recurrent, unwanted thoughts or impulses (obsessions), and repetitive behaviors (compulsions). OCD can only be diagnosed by a qualified medical or mental health professional. OCD is often extremely upsetting and disruptive to a person’s life. OCD often takes on a life of its own so that the individual loses control over the ability to manage his or her thoughts and behaviors. If left untreated, the illness typically worsens over time. The intrusive, unmanageable thoughts and behaviors interfere with an individual’s ability to behave normally in social situations. OCD shows a strong genetic component, and tends to run in families. Major progress has been made in the treatment of OCD, and treatment is readily available.
Symptoms of OCD
Symptoms of obsessions include:
- Recurrent, immovable, thoughts or impulses that persist in an individual’s consciousness and cause mental distress and anxiety.
- Frequent or constant thoughts about bizarre concerns that are well outside the realm of worrying about everyday life problems, e.g., being unable to eat breakfast unless the food is served in a particular dish, or the silverware is placed in a particular order.
- An inability to clear unwanted thoughts and images from one’s mind, even while recognizing that they are a product of one’s own mind.
- Unsuccessful attempts to rid persistent thoughts from one’s consciousness.
Symptoms of compulsions include:
- Repetitive, uncontrollable urges to perform a specific behavior again and again, e.g., checking dozens of times to see that the door is locked, washing hands repeatedly for hours, and/or mental behaviors, such as counting the cracks in the sidewalk or constantly repeating a word, phrase or tune.
- The behaviors are an extreme overreaction to anxiety and are excessive and unwarranted.
- The underlying reason for performing these behavioral “rituals” is to reduce anxiety, and the individual becomes highly upset when prevented from acting upon these impulses.
- The individual becomes so preoccupied with repeating these unnecessary and often time-consuming behaviors, that they interfere with the person’s ability to lead a normal life.
If you or someone you know has a problem with OCD, help is available. Call the Bricklayers’ Member Assistance Program (MAP) to confidentially speak to a licensed mental health professional. Call toll-free at 1-888-880-8222