You’ve had a contentious relationship with germs for as long as you can remember. Rubber gloves never keep your hands clean. Chaos and disorganization keep you awake at night almost every day – and you never feel better until you make things “just right.” It sounds like you might have OCD.
What is OCD?
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.
Trying to ignore or half your obsessions may only lead to even more distress and anxiety. You’re compelled to perform habitual acts for stress relief. Even with self-defense attempts, intrusive thoughts or urges keep returning. Such ritualistic behavior is the underpinnings of OCD.
Ketamine for OCD
Using ketamine to treat symptoms of OCD is growing in popularity. Ketamine is a medicine that was introduced as a pre-surgical anesthetic in the early 1960s and was field-tested in Vietnam for treating wounded U.S. combat troops. From there, it became apparent it offered additional medicinal value, as a fast-acting way to reduce symptoms of chronic pain conditions, mental illness, and OCD – conditions that have not always responded favorably to conventional treatment like psychotherapy.
Signs of OCD
Obsessive-compulsive disorder encompasses obsessions and compulsions. But you may only have one or the other. You won’t recognize that your obsessions and compulsions are extreme or unwarranted – but they consume an inordinate amount of time and obstruct your daily living including social, school, and other obligations.
Common obsessions in OCD may include:
- Fear of contamination from bodily fluids, germs, household items, or environmental pollutants.
- Fear of losing control, fear of acting on an impulse, or fear of unpleasant images in one’s mind.
- Fear of being harmed or harming someone else. For instance, of being harmed during a fire or burglary, or someone else is harmed due to your own carelessness.
- You’re obsessed with perfectionism, like evenness or exactness or afraid of losing something of perceived value.
- Other obsessions (about gender identity, illness, or superstitious ideas).
If you have OCD, obsessive thoughts are constant, compulsive behaviors are inflexible. Not doing either one can result in significant distress. Countless people who experience OCD know or think their obsessions aren’t true; others have limited insight and may believe they’re true. But even if there’s a hint their obsessions aren’t realistic, you have trouble extricating yourself from the obsessive thoughts or halting the compulsive acts.
Obsessions are often thematic (fear of contamination, problems with uncertainty, unwanted thoughts, and so forth) and have specific symptoms:
- You have an intense fear of being polluted by touching an item that someone else touched.
- You question whether you actually secured the door, for instance, or shut off the stove before leaving your house.
- You’re gripped by extreme stress when an item isn’t orderly or facing a certain direction.
- You have thoughts about calling out obscenities or acting improperly in public.
- You sometimes have unpleasant erotic images.
- You try and avoid, at all costs, any situation that could trigger obsessions, like shaking hands.
If you suffer from OCD, you’re not alone in your grief. The Anxiety & Depression Association of America calls it the “most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year.”
How to Treat & Diagnose OCD
- See a medical doctor for a physical examination. During your visit, the doctor may perform blood tests or other procedures to reveal an underlying cause for your symptoms.
- See a mental health specialist for a psychiatric evaluation. The goal here is to examine thoughts, behaviors, and feelings as triggers of your OCD symptoms. You’ll be asked about your personal and family history of mental illness, and whether it’s okay to talk to family or friends about your illness.
OCD is nefarious in its ability to convince you that you’re only imagining things – you’re not really thinking or doing that for such-and-such a reason. But that’s probably the first sign there’s something amiss with your state of mental health. Learning the symptoms is your first, best line of defense. To learn more about the innovative treatments for OCD that can help you find relief, contact us today.