OCD: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment
- Compulsive behavior
- Obsessive-compulsive behavior
- Obsessive-compulsive syndrome
- Obsessive compulsion
- Obsessive thoughts
- Intrusive thoughts
Symptoms of OCD
- Contamination: Fear of being contaminated with germs, disease, bodily fluids, environmental contaminants, or household chemicals.
- Unwanted sexual thoughts or images: Forbidden or perverse sexual thoughts, images, and urges about oneself or others, questioning one’s sexual orientation, sexual obsessions that involve children, incest, or aggressive sexual behavior.
- Losing control: Fear of acting on an impulse to harm oneself or others, fear of blurting out obscenities or insults, fear of violent images in one’s mind.
- Harm: Fear of a loved one getting hurt or dying, fear of harming others because of not being careful enough, fear of being responsible for something terrible happening.
- Perfectionism: Obsession with cleanliness, order, or exactness.
- Health: Concern with getting a physical illness or disease or feeling like you have an illness that doctors haven’t been able to find/diagnose.
- Magical thinking: Superstitious ideas about lucky/unlucky numbers, black cats, certain colors, stepping on cracks, etc.
- Washing and cleaning: Washing or cleaning oneself, one’s house, or one’s belongings excessively or in a certain way.
- Mental compulsions: Mental review, excessive praying to prevent something from happening, counting while performing a task to end on a “good,” “right,” or “safe” number.
- Checking: Checking that you didn’t harm yourself or others, checking that nothing terrible has happened, checking multiple times that you turned off an appliance.
- Repeating: Repeating routine activities such as going in and out of doors or turning lights on and off, repeating body movements such as tapping, touching, or blinking, repeating certain words, phrases, or sentences.
- Reassurance seeking: Constantly asking friends, family, strangers, or people on the internet for advice or reassurance.
- Avoidance: Avoiding anything that triggers obsessions.
Causes and risk factors of OCD
- Having a high chronic stress load
- Experiencing traumatic or stressful life events (contracting a virus, getting in an accident, experiencing an emotional event, childbirth, etc.)
- Experiencing traumas or stressful events in close succession
- Experiencing trauma in childhood
- Having a relative who suffers from OCD
How is OCD diagnosed?
- The presence of obsessions and compulsions
- Obsessions and compulsions that are time-consuming or cause significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important settings
- Symptoms cannot be better explained by another health issue
How is OCD treated?
Exposure response prevention (ERP)
ERP is a component of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) that involves gradually exposing oneself to feared obsessions through words, imagery, or physical objects and resisting the urge to perform your compulsions. As the sufferer improves, the exposures increase in terms of how challenging they are. ERP works by teaching the brain that the thoughts, images, and urges are safe and not to be feared, thereby switching off the part of the brain that’s over-firing. Over time, this releases the need to practice compulsions as frequently, or eliminates the desire to perform compulsions altogether.
In many ways, ERP is similar to re-origin’s program. They both work to rewire the brain and override the faulty programming and use incremental training to gradually decondition the brain to its triggers. Unlike re-origin which is self-directed, however, ERP requires the help of a mental health provider. Appointments can be pricey, making it inaccessible to many people due to cost.
How we approach OCD
OCD occurs when the limbic system becomes traumatized due to experiencing a physical or emotional trauma while your stress load is already high. When in this impaired state, the limbic system repeatedly sends out inappropriate alarm signals to warn of danger, leading to obsessions and compulsions.
The good news is that these symptoms are temporary and can be reversed. At re-origin, we focus on addressing the root cause of OCD: an impaired limbic system. We believe that interrupting faulty neural pathways in the brain and calming the overactive threat-response system are the keys to permanent and full recovery from OCD.
Through re-origin, you learn how to adopt the perspective of the “curious observer,” separating yourself from the obsessions and learning to see them as nothing more than a symptom of a glitch in your brain. Then, using specific neurocognitive exercises, you can systematically work to create new, healthy neural pathways and get back to a place of safety and balance where normal thought processes and reactions can resume.
re-origin’s approach does not chase or mask symptoms, but rather works to rewire the part of the brain that is causing the dysfunction (the limbic system), resulting in long-lasting recovery. The program is easy to follow, self-directed, cost-effective, and takes just minutes a day to implement.
How to live and cope with OCD
At re-origin, we believe that nobody should have to live or cope with OCD. We want you to eliminate your obsessions and compulsions and re-establish peace and happiness. Our program involves applying an easy-to-follow, five-step neurocognitive technique to override and rewire faulty conditioning in the brain and create new, functional neural pathways.
The key to overcoming OCD lies in applying our techniques and being persistent in your efforts. With dedication and repetition, you can create new, anxiety-free neural pathways in your brain. Learn more about the re-origin program with a free trial at re-origin.com/freetrial.
Frequently Asked Questions
A Final Word from re-origin
- You did not cause this.
- Your inability to manage is not a reflection of your strength.
- Your obsessions are not a reflection of who you are as a person or your reality.
- You’re not going insane. Your persistent, scary thoughts and feelings are simply the result of faulty transmissions in a malfunctioning brain.
- This condition is not permanent—you can undo the faulty wiring in your brain and make a full recovery with the help of re-origin.
- Sasson, Y., Zohar, J., Chopra, M., Lustig, M., Iancu, I., & Hendler, T. (1997). Epidemiology of obsessive-compulsive disorder: a world view. The Journal of clinical psychiatry, 58 Suppl 12, 7–10.
- Rajmohan, V., & Mohandas, E. (2007). The limbic system. Indian journal of psychiatry, 49(2), 132–139. https://doi.org/10.4103/0019-5545.33264. Available From: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2917081/
- Maia, T. V., Cooney, R. E., & Peterson, B. S. (2008). The neural bases of obsessive-compulsive disorder in children and adults. Development and psychopathology, 20(4), 1251–1283. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0954579408000606. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3079445/