Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health disorder that occurs when individuals have irrational patterns of uncontrollable fears and thoughts that lead to engaging in compulsive behavior. The obsessions and compulsions both interfere with a patient’s day-to-day functioning and lead to significant emotional or physical distress. When someone with OCD tries to stop their thought spirals or resist compulsions, it can lead to more anxiety and stress. Not every case of obsessive-compulsive disorder presents the same way. Though the better-known manifestation of OCD involves an obsession with cleanliness and fear of germs, this condition can develop around any theme. It’s important to note while obsessive-compulsive disorder can sometimes seem uncontrollable, there are multiple treatment methods available. A combination of medication and psychotherapy is often effective at helping OCD patients.
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Intrusive and Repetitive Thoughts
Obsessive-compulsive disorder presents with intrusive and repetitive thoughts that often follow patterns. These thoughts may then lead to the need to act out compulsions to lessen them. The most common media portrayals of OCD tend to show affected individuals struggling with obsessive thought spirals about cleanliness and purity, along with fear of germs and contamination. Though this is one of the main ways OCD can manifest, there are other forms intrusive thoughts can take. Oftentimes, intrusive thoughts can be violent and extremely upsetting. It’s normal to have occasional thoughts like, ‘I could drive my car into oncoming traffic or hit a pedestrian and harm people.’ With a neurotypical brain, these thoughts can be put aside. Someone with obsessive-compulsive disorder, on the other hand, will obsess about them and may even feel like they’ve committed the violent act just by thinking about it. Even if OCD obsessions center around immoral or violent thoughts, affected individuals are not more likely to actually commit these acts than the general population. They find these thoughts extremely upsetting and suffer from them.
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