Dr Andre: Do I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

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Doctor, Do I suffer from OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)? 

Often we throw around the term “OCD” as a way to describe someone who tends to be meticulous, controlling, or otherwise particular about wanting things a certain way. While most of us can recognize that we likely do not really suffer from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, how do we know if there is a chance that we actually do?

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is diagnosed based on two major benchmarks.

The first is the presence of an obsessive thought. This is not a passing worry, but a thought that does not go away after some period of time or once a problem is solved. An obsessive thought that occurs with this disorder is often irrational (for example, that a catastrophe is going to happen), and does not go away until the second benchmark of this disorder is performed, the compulsive act. A compulsion is the urge to complete an act in order to get rid of the obsessive thought. For example, often people who are diagnosed with this disorder may believe that unless they wash their hands repeatedly throughout the day, they will contract a deadly disease. Some people must check things, like doors or light-switches in order to alleviate thoughts that someone will get into their unlocked house or their house will burn down from a light being left on.

The second major component to this disorder is that those thoughts or acts are intrusive in the sufferer’s life. That is, the person cannot skip the compulsive act to alleviate the thought, or else that thought or fear intrudes on the person’s ability to proceed with daily functioning.

Is there a possibility you are suffering from this disorder? The good news is that there is help that really works. On the Northshore (Mandeville) and Southshore (Metairie) Counseling and Wellness, we offer a comprehensive approach to working with people who may be trying to deal with these symptoms. There are two components to the treatment of this disorder: counseling and medication therapy. Our trained therapists utilize cognitive-behavioral techniques, focusing on helping the client gain control over the thoughts that become so intrusive. Looking at all the various stressors and components of that client’s life is often part of this approach too. Processing ways to cope with stress, ways to gain and utilize support systems, and helping the client feel more empowered over this disorder are just a few additional ways that therapy can be beneficial. We can also offer assistance in helping the client determine the best course to take when making decisions about medication as well.

Call our office for an appointment to help you manage living with OCD. We’re located in Metairie (504) 717-4043 or Mandeville (985) 624-2942 For more information about OCD, visit the National Institute of Mental Health’s OCD information.

Submitted by: Micah P. Hatchett, Ph.D., LPC-S, NCC