How to know if a thought is ocd

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) - Symptoms and causes


Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) features a pattern of unwanted thoughts and fears (obsessions) that lead you to do repetitive behaviors (compulsions). These obsessions and compulsions interfere with daily activities and cause significant distress.

You may try to ignore or stop your obsessions, but that only increases your distress and anxiety. Ultimately, you feel driven to perform compulsive acts to try to ease your stress. Despite efforts to ignore or get rid of bothersome thoughts or urges, they keep coming back. This leads to more ritualistic behavior — the vicious cycle of OCD.

OCD often centers around certain themes — for example, an excessive fear of getting contaminated by germs. To ease your contamination fears, you may compulsively wash your hands until they're sore and chapped.

If you have OCD, you may be ashamed and embarrassed about the condition, but treatment can be effective.


Obsessive-compulsive disorder usually includes both obsessions and compulsions. But it's also possible to have only obsession symptoms or only compulsion symptoms. You may or may not realize that your obsessions and compulsions are excessive or unreasonable, but they take up a great deal of time and interfere with your daily routine and social, school or work functioning.

Obsession symptoms

OCD obsessions are repeated, persistent and unwanted thoughts, urges or images that are intrusive and cause distress or anxiety. You might try to ignore them or get rid of them by performing a compulsive behavior or ritual. These obsessions typically intrude when you're trying to think of or do other things.

Obsessions often have themes to them, such as:

  • Fear of contamination or dirt
  • Doubting and having difficulty tolerating uncertainty
  • Needing things orderly and symmetrical
  • Aggressive or horrific thoughts about losing control and harming yourself or others
  • Unwanted thoughts, including aggression, or sexual or religious subjects

Examples of obsession signs and symptoms include:

  • Fear of being contaminated by touching objects others have touched
  • Doubts that you've locked the door or turned off the stove
  • Intense stress when objects aren't orderly or facing a certain way
  • Images of driving your car into a crowd of people
  • Thoughts about shouting obscenities or acting inappropriately in public
  • Unpleasant sexual images
  • Avoidance of situations that can trigger obsessions, such as shaking hands

Compulsion symptoms

OCD compulsions are repetitive behaviors that you feel driven to perform. These repetitive behaviors or mental acts are meant to reduce anxiety related to your obsessions or prevent something bad from happening. However, engaging in the compulsions brings no pleasure and may offer only a temporary relief from anxiety.

You may make up rules or rituals to follow that help control your anxiety when you're having obsessive thoughts. These compulsions are excessive and often are not realistically related to the problem they're intended to fix.

As with obsessions, compulsions typically have themes, such as:

  • Washing and cleaning
  • Checking
  • Counting
  • Orderliness
  • Following a strict routine
  • Demanding reassurance

Examples of compulsion signs and symptoms include:

  • Hand-washing until your skin becomes raw
  • Checking doors repeatedly to make sure they're locked
  • Checking the stove repeatedly to make sure it's off
  • Counting in certain patterns
  • Silently repeating a prayer, word or phrase
  • Arranging your canned goods to face the same way

Severity varies

OCD usually begins in the teen or young adult years, but it can start in childhood. Symptoms usually begin gradually and tend to vary in severity throughout life. The types of obsessions and compulsions you experience can also change over time. Symptoms generally worsen when you experience greater stress. OCD, usually considered a lifelong disorder, can have mild to moderate symptoms or be so severe and time-consuming that it becomes disabling.

When to see a doctor

There's a difference between being a perfectionist — someone who requires flawless results or performance, for example — and having OCD. OCD thoughts aren't simply excessive worries about real problems in your life or liking to have things clean or arranged in a specific way.

If your obsessions and compulsions are affecting your quality of life, see your doctor or mental health professional.

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The cause of obsessive-compulsive disorder isn't fully understood. Main theories include:

  • Biology. OCD may be a result of changes in your body's own natural chemistry or brain functions.
  • Genetics. OCD may have a genetic component, but specific genes have yet to be identified.
  • Learning. Obsessive fears and compulsive behaviors can be learned from watching family members or gradually learned over time.

Risk factors

Factors that may increase the risk of developing or triggering obsessive-compulsive disorder include:

  • Family history. Having parents or other family members with the disorder can increase your risk of developing OCD.
  • Stressful life events. If you've experienced traumatic or stressful events, your risk may increase. This reaction may, for some reason, trigger the intrusive thoughts, rituals and emotional distress characteristic of OCD.
  • Other mental health disorders. OCD may be related to other mental health disorders, such as anxiety disorders, depression, substance abuse or tic disorders.


Problems resulting from obsessive-compulsive disorder may include, among others:

  • Excessive time spent engaging in ritualistic behaviors
  • Health issues, such as contact dermatitis from frequent hand-washing
  • Difficulty attending work, school or social activities
  • Troubled relationships
  • Overall poor quality of life
  • Suicidal thoughts and behavior


There's no sure way to prevent obsessive-compulsive disorder. However, getting treatment as soon as possible may help prevent OCD from worsening and disrupting activities and your daily routine.

By Mayo Clinic Staff


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How to Know if Your New Thought is OCD, and 6 Concrete OCD-Repelling Strategies

This is a question we get asked a lot at our OCD clinic: “How do I know if this thought is my OCD or if it is a ‘normal’ thought?” It usually happens when a person in treatment has certain familiar “regular” OCD thoughts, but then suddenly gets hit with a new, unfamiliar, unwanted intrusive thought that may or may not be OCD-related.

So even if you know that you have OCD, you may still wonder about that new thought that suddenly popped into your mind, “Is this my OCD acting up again, or is it just a regular, weird thought?”

Some examples of such thoughts include:

  • What if I spilled water on the floor and an elderly lady will slip on it and die? 

  • What if I get rabies from the road kill?

  • What if I am that hit-and-run driver that injured a pedestrian earlier today?

  • What if I stab myself with this knife?

  • What if I accidentally offended God?

  • What is the meaning of life?

  • What if I broke the law without noticing?

  • What if my thoughts are causing harm to other people?

  • What if I unintentionally confess to a crime that I didn’t commit?

  • What if I accidentally cheated on my partner?

  • What if I sexually assaulted somebody at a party years ago, but can’t remember?

How can you know if it’s OCD, or if the thought is “normal”?

The thing is, the content of these thoughts is not specific to people with OCD. Our brain is constantly generating all kinds of creative thoughts (some more disturbing than others) and our mind chooses which thoughts to engage with. The subtle distinction between the "normal" and the "problematic" lies not in the content of the thought, but in what we decide to do about it.

Anybody can have a random, scary, nonsensical what-if thought such as, "What if I will harm my baby?" "What if I just caused a hit-and-run accident?" "What if I’ll drive my car into the oncoming traffic?"

Non-sufferers usually quickly dismiss these thoughts and continue with their day. If you have a negative thought and shrug it off without giving it much attention, you are unlikely to become obsessed with it.

In this case, your thought process usually goes, "Wow. That was one weird thought.”

But people with OCD tend to take these thoughts very seriously. Their thinking process goes like this, "Oh no! Why did I just have this thought? I must be a horrible person and a danger to others. I should try to prevent this disaster from happening. And I should double-check. And I need to understand what this thought really means."

You may find yourself engaging with the new thought by:

  • Trying very hard to get rid of it.

  • Trying to replace it with ‘positive’ thoughts or images.

  • Attempting to figure out the exact message/meaning of this thought.

  • Wondering what having such thoughts might mean about you as a person.

  • Asking others for reassurance hoping to hear that the thought is not harmful.

  • Attempting to neutralize the thought with a mental ritual

If you catch yourself doing any of the above, it likely means that the thought has become an “OCD-thought” and that it interferes with your life.

This over-engagement with the thought creates a never-ending loop of you trying to figure out or neutralize the thought and the thought coming back with vengeance. The more you attempt to either push away or to "understand" the thought, the "stickier" the thought becomes. 

When the thought feels uncontrollable and "sticky" and the efforts to get rid of it don't bring a lasting relief, this may be a sign that your OCD got you on the hook again.

It is especially difficult to identify the problematic “sticky” thoughts when a person has primarily obsessional (“Pure-O”) OCD

Every type of OCD is characterized by obsessions (thoughts that make a person anxious, distressed, fearful, or disgusted) and compulsions (things that the person does to reduce these uncomfortable feelings).

 The kind of OCD that primarily has mental obsessions is often called "Pure O," implying that the obsessions and compulsions are purely mental (not visible). Unfortunately, health professionals often miss the diagnosis of OCD in these cases because they can't observe the compulsions. This is tragic as the sufferers go undiagnosed and untreated for many years (sometimes they suffer silently for their entire life).

 The good news is that the "Pure O" kind of OCD is just as treatable as the other OCD categories with the same ERP approach.

Where to start when addressing the new obsession?

 The first step is to really understand how the vicious cycle of OCD develops. The more effort you put into getting rid of your thoughts, the more obsessed you are likely going to become. This includes following the popular (and uninformed) advice about trying to replace a negative thought with a positive one, to snap a rubber band on your wrist trying to stop the thought, or try to distract yourself from the thoughts by visualization, breathing, or relaxation. These tactics will force you to give these thoughts even more importance and hence, will gradually lead to more obsessing.  

In fact, trying to get rid of the thoughts reinforces “the pathway of fear” in your brain. As this pathway strengthens, the mental rituals become almost automatic.

The goal of OCD treatment is to start creating and strengthening an alternative neural pathway – the pathway of “I can have an obsession and not succumb to OCD demands. ” The more you use this new neural pathway in various situations, at various times of day, with different people, and in different moods, the more you develop and fortify it.

The following are some steps to start creating this new, healthy pathway:

6 strategies for nipping the sticky thoughts in the bud:

1.    Start practicing seeing your thought just as it is – a thought. It is not a fact or a threat. 

2.    When you notice an unwanted obsessive thought, label it as such. Say to yourself: “I notice that I'm having a thought that [X is going to happen].” This is how you learn to become an observer of your thoughts instead of a willing participant in useless rumination, negotiation, and other attempts to neutralize or figure out the thought. 

3.    Allow the thought to come and go without trying to force it to go away or to figure it out.

4.    Let go of the illusion that you can control your thoughts. You may be able to do it temporarily, but it takes too much of your energy and time to sustain it in the long run.

5.    In spite of what many OCD self-help books will teach you, don’t aim to lower your anxiety. If the anxiety goes down, enjoy the good feeling. If it doesn’t – it means that you have an extra opportunity to practice building your new robust neural super-highway, so having high anxiety and, nevertheless, resisting the compulsion will benefit you even more.

6.    Reward yourself for having an OCD thought, experiencing high anxiety, and still not doing the mental ritual. This is how you know that you are on the right track. 

Bonus point: If you just had a thought that the number of strategies above (6) may bring bad luck or cause harm to you or others, deem this thought an OCD-thought and practice the strategies described here right away.


 It is very important to seek treatment for OCD. The only evidence-based effective treatment for OCD is Exposure with Response Prevention (ERP), which is a very specific part of Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). From our experience, when ERP is combined with Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), the treatment is even more effective. This disorder does not go away on its own and the earlier you start treatment, the better. 


To summarize, it’s not the content of the thought that determines whether it’s an OCD thought. What gives you a clue is your appraisal of the thought, your level of engagement with it, and the extent to which you take the thought seriously.

Hence, if you are not sure, I suggest you assume that the thought is an OCD thought and treat it accordingly – with lack of attention and respect. Let the thought come and go, and re-focus on connecting to the present moment while practicing the strategies described above.

Have you had new obsessions pop up in your mind, masquerading as legitimate concerns? Have you learned to identify them early. Or have you been missing them? Please share in the comments below!

If you enjoyed this article, follow us on Facebook for more great tips and resources!

Anna Prudovski is a Psychologist and the Clinical Director of Turning Point Psychological Services. She has a special interest in treating anxiety disorders and OCD, as well as working with parents.

Anna lives with her husband and children in Vaughan, Ontario. When she is not treating patients, supervising clinicians, teaching CBT, and attending professional workshops, Anna enjoys practicing yoga, going on hikes with her family, traveling, studying Ayurveda, and spending time with friends. Her favorite pastime is reading.

Related Posts

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD): what it is, symptoms, treatment, advice from a doctor Some people develop symptoms during adolescence, although they are usually diagnosed in adults. Obsessive-compulsive disorder can significantly interfere with a fulfilling life, but treatment can help keep it under control.

Let's figure out together with experts what are the causes of OCD, what therapeutic and drug methods are used by doctors, and how to behave relatives of a person who has been diagnosed with this disorder. nine0003


  1. What it is
  2. Signs and symptoms
  3. Causes
  4. Diagnosis
  5. How to treat
  6. Advice for relatives
  7. 902 support groups

    What is obsessive-compulsive disorder?


    Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a common chronic and long-term condition in which a person has uncontrollable repetitive, obsessive thoughts (ideas) and/or actions (behaviors) [1]. OCD is diagnosed in 1.3% of the world's population [2]. nine0003

    Many people confuse OCD with nail biting or negative thinking. Both can be a sign of the disease, but other diagnostic criteria must be taken into account. The obsession is often that a person considers certain numbers or colors to be "good" or "bad". It happens that the habit with OCD is washing your hands repeatedly after touching something that is considered dirty, infected, dangerous. Although the person does not want to think or do it, he is unable to stop [3]. nine0003

    Vladimir BelovMedical psychologist, child psychologist, consultant suicidologist, leading specialist of the Semeynaya clinic network

    “Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a neuropsychological disorder that always includes two components:

    • obsessions - persistent thoughts or impulses, intrusive and unacceptable, causing anxiety;
    • compulsions are rituals that are built into the thoughts of a person, he considers it necessary to perform them in response to an obsession. nine0016

    The most common connection between these components is that compulsions are actions whose purpose is to neutralize or reduce the distress caused by obsessions. Rituals include such processes as endless washing of hands, double-checking one's own actions or the state of some objects. For some people, these are specific prayers, rituals when going to work, when returning to an apartment, while waiting for transport.

    Signs and symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder


    Obsessions - involuntary thoughts and ideas: "I shook hands with a person and now I can get infected with something. " This rumination in itself is perfectly normal, but the person with OCD will wash their hands again and again, unable to get rid of it. This is already a compulsion - an obsessive behavior, an individual unstoppable ritual. In the short term, it reduces anxiety, but the thought returns and the action must be repeated. A person feels that he must do it, while he cannot stop. Everyone has recurring habits or thoughts that recur frequently. But in the case of OCD they are:

    • present daily;
    • are uncontrollable;
    • are not enjoyable;
    • affect work and social life.

    It's not unusual to wonder if the curling iron is unplugged. It’s worth worrying if this thought haunts you every day, makes you return home halfway from work and check (more than once, even if you just made sure that the device is not turned on). Obsessive-compulsive disorder comes in many forms, but most cases fall into at least one of the four main categories. The symptoms of OCD are rooted in the person's obsessive behavior. For example, he:

    1. Checks if the door is locked, if the iron and oven are switched off.
    2. Unreasonably suspects undiagnosed health conditions such as pregnancy or schizophrenia.
    3. Afraid of germs, things that can be dirty, constantly cleaning.
    4. Strives for excessive symmetry and order, feels the need to arrange things in a certain way: by size, colors or alphabet.
    5. Cannot drive obsessive thoughts and ideas away from himself. Some of them can be violent or disturbing. nine0016

    Anastasia AfanasyevaPsychiatrist, psychotherapist, clinical director of the psychological platform Alter

    “Intrusive thoughts can occur as part of a variety of disorders, from psychosis to anxiety. To understand what disease these thoughts can be associated with, experts look at how a person treats them. For example, a person in psychosis may not even have a shadow of doubt and discomfort from the fact that the obsessive thought “you can harm your child” is spinning in his head. A person with OCD cannot have this, he will be frightened by such thoughts, and he will try to do everything to prevent this from happening, for example, remove all sharp objects away from him or not approach the child. Discomfort and the feeling that these thoughts are "inadequate", "wrong" will be an important identifying factor that this is OCD. nine0003

    People without disorders can also have obsessive thoughts, but normally we quickly cope with them and they do not disturb life, forcing us to rebuild it for ourselves: the thought appeared - the person brushed it off and moved on.

    Causes of OCD


    Doctors do not give a specific explanation of the causes of the onset and development of OCD. It is most often diagnosed in adolescence and adulthood, with women 1.6 times more likely than men [4]. The factors for the development of the disease include:

    1. Genetics. If you have OCD in your next of kin—father, mother, brother, and sister—the chances are high that you have it too.
    2. Structure and function of the brain. In the brain of OCD sufferers, increased activity is recorded in the region of the cortico-striatal-thalamo-cortical loop [5].
    3. Environment. High levels of stress, increased anxiety can also be a trigger for the development of obsessive-compulsive disorder.
    4. Concomitant diseases. OCD is often diagnosed in parallel with eating disorders and depression [6]. nine0016
    5. Traumatic events. The disorder can be the result of difficult circumstances experienced: psychological and sexual abuse, physical trauma, loss of loved ones.
    6. Infections. Occasionally, OCD is found in children who have had a streptococcal infection. This is called pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders.

    There is a hypothesis that disturbing deviations developed and persisted in the course of evolution [7]. When people did not have access to modern advances in medicine and hygiene, those who had less contact with a possible source of infection and were constantly on the alert, assessing possible risks and double-checking the safety of food and housing, survived. nine0003

    Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Diagnostics


    All people from time to time find themselves in stressful situations, many people find it helpful to put things in order at home or in the closet, everyone at least once caught himself thinking that he had not turned off the coffee maker in a hurry to a meeting. It doesn't mean you have OCD. Only a doctor can make an accurate diagnosis. Contact a specialist if the above symptoms directly affect your relationship with yourself and others, steal time, do not allow you to relax and enjoy life. nine0003

    In society, the attitude towards OCD is often superficial and not serious. It is often perceived as a funny feature of a person. But the worsening symptoms cannot be controlled by willpower alone. OCD can be expressed in varying degrees of obsession, and for many it really does not interfere (and may help maintain cleanliness and keep processes under control), but for others it poses a real threat to normal life [8].

    There are specialized tests for obsessive-compulsive disorder. Try to answer several questions in the format "often", "rarely", "never", "always":

    • Do you have obsessive thoughts about possible tragic events, death, serious illnesses, fires, accidents?
    • Are you concerned about the possibility of contamination with germs and chemicals?
    • Do you unnecessarily re-read emails or text messages before or after sending them?
    • Are you obsessed with keeping everything in order (cataloging books, perfect stacks of clothes in your closet, sized pencils on your desk)? nine0016
    • Do you repeat routine activities such as opening a door, putting on your shoes, or getting into bed over and over again until you feel like you've done it "right"?
    • Do you have recurring inappropriate thoughts (often of a religious, violent, or sexual nature) that seem intrusive and out of control?
    • Do you feel the need to constantly seek confirmation of what you have said or done?
    • Do you follow ritualized washing, cleaning or personal grooming habits (eg washing your hands five times in a row)? nine0016
    • Do you avoid certain colors or numbers because you consider them "unlucky"?
    • Do you check your trash before throwing it away to make sure it's clean?
    • Do you worry about doing something out of a senseless urge, like pushing a stranger or hitting a loved one?
    • Do you check oven handles, door locks and car brakes over and over again in a short period of time? nine0016

    If most of the described thoughts and situations appear suspiciously often in your daily life, you should consult a general practitioner. He will conduct a physical examination and order blood tests to make sure that the symptoms are not caused by something else. If OCD is suspected, work with a therapist or psychiatrist to talk about life circumstances, feelings, thoughts, and habits.

    How to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder


    There is no specific drug that can completely eliminate the symptoms of OCD. But medication support and additional psychological techniques for working on oneself help to work through this problem and keep it under control.


    Cognitive Behavioral Therapy allows you to change your thinking patterns. Anastasia Afanasyeva believes that one of the most important techniques when working with OCD is distancing, exposing and challenging thoughts: “Distancing is a group of techniques in which we teach a person with OCD to notice intrusive thoughts, realize their ineffectiveness and switch from thinking about them to current ones. affairs. It is important here not to try to start controlling and “not thinking” these thoughts, as this is unrealistic and causes even more anxiety. Instead, for example, we can imagine that thoughts are like an annoying radio broadcast that cannot be turned off, but is not worth listening to. nine0003

    Exposure is the conscious exposure to uncomfortable situations in order to gradually learn to endure stress and stop using rituals that reduce anxiety in the moment, such as double-checking, washing hands, avoiding sharp objects.

    Challenging and checking the reality of thoughts helps to understand that often a thought is just a thought and not every thought that comes to mind is worth believing. To assess how true this idea is, you can write it down on a piece of paper and give facts for and against its correctness. nine0003


    Anxiety and obsessive thoughts are inevitably associated with tension in the body. Available meditation techniques, as well as massage and yoga classes, help to consciously look at the circumstances and cope with stress.

    Anastasia Afanasyeva:

    “In general, working with anxiety disorders always involves homework, as people learn to cope with their anxiety not only in the psychologist's office, but also in situations that arise in everyday life. Mostly it's working with thoughts and changing behavioral strategies that support OCD or reduce anxiety for only a short time. nine0003

    The most common treatment for OCD involves individual sessions with a psychotherapist. There are practically no therapy protocols with proven efficacy for groups.”


    When taking drugs, you can achieve a stable remission. The timing of drug treatment will be determined by the attending physician. Do not stop taking antidepressants at the first sign of improvement.

    Vladimir Belov:

    “First of all, we need both a psychiatrist and a medical psychologist/psychotherapist. Because, on the one hand, cognitive-behavioral therapy is used, which is quite effective and has a lot of scientific evidence: exposure and prevention of reactions and rituals. This program goes on for several months and is combined with drugs. First of all, these are antidepressants - selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and atypical antipsychotic drugs. Much depends on the condition of the patient and the severity of the process in which he is. nine0003

    What to do for relatives of a patient with OCD


    People who live near a person with OCD often find themselves in difficult conditions. They want to help by interrupting the compulsive manifestations of a loved one, which can create an even more stressful situation for him. But it is also not worth closing your eyes to the disease. Psychologists advise updating it, pronouncing the problem. Develop the emotional intelligence of a loved one: let's understand that he can safely talk to you about any of his feelings. Emphasize that you are always ready to listen and help: “I am with you, we will deal with this problem together.” nine0003

    Anastasia Afanasyeva:

    “If someone in your family suffers from OCD, one of the important tasks that you face is to stay out of the anxiety maintenance cycle. For example, one should not encourage the desire for excessive cleanliness, endless washing of clothes, washing hands, constant fruitless visits to doctors, one should not participate in rechecking any facts. You need to understand that this does not help a loved one cope with anxiety, but reinforces a non-working pattern of behavior and serves as proof that such behavior and thoughts are justified. nine0003

    Forums, support groups for people with OCD


    The best option is to contact a trusted doctor and treat according to his recommendations. In addition to medicines and work with a specialist, the fulfillment of independent tasks plays an important role. It is important for people with OCD to talk about the problem and see the support of others. Like-minded forums often help. You can join thematic groups on social networks or contact volunteers:

    1. Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) - mental health resources, including conferences of the International OCD Foundation. There are online support groups for those with the disorder.
    2. OCD Peers - Virtual support groups (6-10 members) using a HIPAA compliant platform. Video conferences with group mentor, open discussions and agenda. All groups are paid.
    3. 7 cups - on the platform you can find a volunteer who will be in touch and ready to listen to the problem. This is not a qualified professional, but sometimes speaking out to an attentive listener is just as important as working through a problem with a licensed psychotherapist. nine0016
    4. Support Groups - A free resource with several hundred support groups on a variety of topics, including those for OCD sufferers. Groups are moderated to avoid bullying and inappropriate user reactions.
    5. HealthUnlocked - literally "health unlocked" - a resource with forums to support people with various diseases. The ROC topic is moderated not only by the portal administrators, but also by representatives of the International ROC Foundation.


    Materials for article



    Irina Rudevich

    How to recognize obsessive-compulsive disorder - Lifehacker

    March 7, 2021 Likbez Health

    There is a line after which the desire to put everything in order turns into a neurosis.

    You can not only read this article, but also listen to it. If it's more convenient for you, turn on the podcast.

    Being a control freak is sometimes good. It is better to make sure five times that you definitely put your air tickets and passports in your bag than to find out later at the airport that the necessary documents are missing. nine0003

    But for some, the desire to control and double-check becomes obsessive. And so much so that it seriously spoils life. A person is literally obsessed with certain things. For example, he cannot leave the house until he has made sure that the iron is turned off 20 times. Or he won't wash his hands 10 times. Or, let's say, does not bring the hallway to a shine.

    This behavior is called obsessive-compulsive disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). With this disorder, a person is regularly visited by obsessive disturbing thoughts (obsessions), which he tries to get rid of with the help of equally obsessive rituals (compulsions). nine0003

    According to the American National Institute of Mental Health, OCD affects 1-2 people out of every 100. In the US alone, the problem affects over two million people.

    It is quite difficult to recognize the line where healthy forethought or love of cleanliness begins to turn into a mental disorder. But still it is possible - if you do not miss some characteristic symptoms.

    How to recognize obsessive-compulsive disorder

    All people, of course, are different. But obsessions most often develop according to several scenarios of the same type. Here they are.

    1. Fear of germs or dirt

    An uncontrollable passion for hygiene is one of the most common symptoms of OCD.

    People with this disorder are desperately afraid that disease-causing microbes will settle on their hands or body. So they wash their hands five times in a row. And repeat the procedure every time you have to touch the doorknob or handset of the office phone. Well, the need to shake hands with a colleague, hug a friend at a meeting, or, let's say, grab a handrail in public transport, becomes their personal nightmare. nine0003

    2. Unhealthy passion for cleaning

    There are people whose houses literally shine. These are neat people. But if everything is clean and guests walk around the apartment like in a museum, but you are still unhappy and have an irresistible desire to rub mirrors and polish the floor in the hallway again and again, we can talk about it - obsessive-compulsive disorder.

    3. The need to have everything in order (literally)

    A cup left on the table instead of taking its place on the kitchen shelf can cause a natural tantrum in a person with OCD. He is enraged by any things that, in his opinion, are not where they should be. Slippers must be placed on a shoe rack, a program must be under the TV, and even a cat must sit in its basket. A person can be nervous even if the thing is located at the wrong angle. nine0003

    Some might call this behavior a perfectionistic passion for order. But no - this is also a sign of obsessive-compulsive disorder.

    4. Excessive self-doubt

    Many people worry about how they look, whether they are doing the right thing and what others will think of them. This is not a problem (more precisely, not the worst of them).

    Such experiences become a problem when a person cannot keep them inside.

    He wonders endlessly: do these jeans really suit him? Is the mascara smudged? Doesn't he look too fat in this dress? Is he doing the right thing? And now? And now? And here he is also not mistaken?

    The neurotic physically needs constant encouragement or reassurance from others that he is all right. This is what obsessive-compulsive disorder is.

    5. The need to constantly double-check everything

    Standard examples are supposedly an unturned iron or an unturned light, for which a person can return home two or three times. This also includes the need to pull the door handle a dozen times, even if you just locked the door with a lock and bolt. Or, for example, regularly double-check whether the e-mail has exactly gone to the addressee. nine0003

    6. Obsessive counting

    Trying to focus on something, many count to themselves. For example, they whisper: "One, two, three - let's go." This is fine.

    But if a person counts the most unexpected things - let's say, the number of trees a tram passes by, or the number of green peas in a brought salad, this is already a reason to be wary. Even worse, if the results of the calculations are disturbing (“There are 13 peas in the salad, the waiter obviously wants to spoil me!”) And they force you to perform some actions (for example, take one pea out of the salad and throw it away). This behavior is already a little beyond normal, yes. nine0003

    7. Building life according to clear rituals

    Maybe you arrange socks in a drawer strictly by color. Or at lunch, eat foods in alphabetical order: first drink broth from the soup (the letter “B”), then eat noodles (L), meat (M) and only after that - a boiled egg (I is the last letter of the alphabet). Or go to work the only, strictly defined route. A step to the left, a step to the right - and you already have a panic in half with the certainty that the day will go “wrong”.

    If there is any ritual in your life, even the most harmless one, that causes anxiety to deviate from, this may be a sign of OCD. nine0003

    8. Hoarding things

    Healthy behavior is to get rid of clothes, furniture or appliances that have become obviously unusable.

    It is unhealthy to think: “Yes, let it lie down (stay), and suddenly one day it will come in handy.” And do this 100 times, or even 200 times, until the house turns into a warehouse of old things. Uncomfortable, but calm. And it fits perfectly with the symptoms of OCD.

    9. Obsession with relationships

    Parting with a loved one, quarrel with a friend, conflict with superiors. These are unpleasant, but quite common situations. Everyone has to worry, try to understand what exactly led to the breakup or scandal, everyone has to draw conclusions. But if experiences and self-criticism last for years, you should seek help. nine0003

    What to do if you suspect obsessive-compulsive disorder

    The best option is to see a psychotherapist. The specialist will help you figure out if we are really talking about OCD. Perhaps he will suggest that you take a blood test: sometimes excessive anxiety is a symptom of thyroid disorders, and then you will need to consult an endocrinologist.

    Obsessive-compulsive disorder, if confirmed, corrected with psychotherapy. Your doctor may also prescribe antidepressants. All this will help reduce the level of anxiety and get rid of obsessive thoughts and actions.

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