Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder in which people have recurring, unwanted thoughts, ideas or sensations (obsessions) that make them feel driven to do something repetitively (compulsions). These repetitive behaviors, such as hand washing, checking on things or cleaning, cause significant distress and can interfere with all aspects of life, such as work, school, and personal relationships.

Obsessive compulsive disorder affects millions of people from all walks of life. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), OCD affected 1.2% of adults in the U.S. in the past year. It currently affects approximately 1 in 40 adults and 1 in 100 children in the U.S, with slightly more women than men affected.

Symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Some people with obsessive-compulsive disorder have both obsessions and compulsions, while some only have obsession symptoms or only compulsion symptoms. Those with OCD may or may not recognize that their obsessions and compulsions are excessive or unreasonable.

For those that recognize their behavior doesn’t make sense, they don’t do it because they enjoy it – they continue because they just can’t quit. If they do stop, they feel so bad that they start again.

The obsessions and compulsions take up great deal of time and interfere with daily routines and social or work functions.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, common obsessions include:

  • Fear of germs or contamination
  • Unwanted forbidden or taboo thoughts involving sex, religion, and harm
  • Aggressive thoughts towards others or self
  • Having things symmetrical or in a perfect order

Common compulsions include:

  • Excessive cleaning and/or handwashing
  • Ordering and arranging things in a particular, precise way
  • Repeatedly checking on things, such as repeatedly checking to see if the door is locked or that the oven is off
  • Compulsive counting

Not all rituals or habits are compulsions. Everyone double checks things sometimes. But a person with OCD generally:

  • Can’t control his or her thoughts or behaviors, even when those thoughts or behaviors are recognized as excessive
  • Spends at least 1 hour a day on these thoughts or behaviors
  • Doesn’t get pleasure when performing the behaviors or rituals, but may feel brief relief from the anxiety the thoughts cause
  • Experiences significant problems in their daily life due to these thoughts or behaviors

Treatment for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder at the Yang Institute

You should not feel ashamed or embarrassed if you have obsessive-compulsive disorder, but should seek treatment which can be effective. The Yang Institute combines western psychiatric therapies with Traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture to provide an integrative, individualized approach for each patient.