Obsessive-compulsive disorder is too often used as a punchline in society, and many of us don’t really understand what it is. People with OCD spend at least an hour a day obsessing over recurrent and persistent thoughts, or externalizing compulsions related to those thoughts. Both behaviors don’t need to exist for an OCD diagnosis, but if the obsessions or compulsions impair your ability to function at work or in social situations, you may be among the 2-3% of Wichitans living with OCD. this disease.
The mental health community does not fully understand what causes OCD, although brain abnormalities from genetics and the environment are thought to play a role. Symptoms often show up in late adolescence, lending credence to the belief that the groundwork begins to be laid while our brains are still forming. The result is to live your life unable to control your own thoughts or actions, lest one wrong step bring disaster, or that you may act upon your own thoughts of evil or violence against yourself or those you you like.
Fortunately, OCD – as a member of the anxiety disorder family – is generally considered highly treatable with the right combination of medication and therapy, including exposure therapy conducted in a controlled environment. Most importantly though, we need to remember that lining up your food a certain way in the grocery cart, or needing your TV volume to be at a certain number, does not equal OCD. As with many anxiety and depressive disorders, the diagnosis depends on how the symptoms actually interfere with your ability to function day to day.