Yes, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common, chronic, and long-lasting mental health disorder, and is listed as such in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). OCD is characterized by unreasonable, uncontrollable, or recurring thoughts (obsessions) followed by a behavioral response (compulsions). Obsessions are defined as “repeated thoughts, urges, or mental images that cause anxiety.” Compulsions are defined as “repetitive behaviors that a person with OCD feels the urge to do in response to an obsessive thought.” The International OCD Foundation asserts that OCD equally affects men, women, and children of all races, ethnicities, and backgrounds. OCD often begins in childhood, adolescence, or early adulthood; the average age symptoms appear is 19 years old. According to Anxiety and Depression Association of America approximately 2.3% of the population has OCD, which is about 1 in 40 adults and 1 in 100 children in the U.S.
OCD Diagnosis Process
The diagnosis process for obsessive-compulsive disorder typically includes several components. The initial steps generally include a thorough physical exam as well as conducting various blood tests to ensure symptoms are not being caused by something else. A psychological evaluation occurs to enable the diagnostician to gain insights into an individual’s behavior patterns, symptoms, thoughts, and feelings. This can help the evaluating clinician determine if the individual’s obsessions and/ or compulsions are actively interfering with his or her ability to function and quality of life. Many mental health professionals that are capable of diagnosing OCD closely adhere to the criteria provided by the American Psychiatric Association published in the DSM-5 listed under the category Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders. The current diagnostic criteria for OCD include:
- The presence of obsessions, compulsions, or both
- Obsessions and/ or compulsions are time-consuming (at least an hour per day) and/ or result in clinically significant distress and/ or impairment in occupational, social, and/ or other areas of functioning
- OCD symptoms are not attributable to physiological effects of another mental condition (e.g., side effects of medication, substance use disorder, etc.)
- The obsessive-compulsive disturbances are not better explained as symptoms of another mental disorder
Any mental health disorder diagnosis should be established through a proper evaluation conducted by a qualified mental health professional. Although OCD is a chronic condition, its symptoms can be managed effectively with appropriate treatment, which often includes medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two.
For Information and Support
Every family in need of mental health treatment must select a program that will best suit the needs of their family. When one member of a family struggles, it impacts everyone in the family unit. To maximize the benefits of treatment we work closely with the entire family to ensure that everyone is receiving the support they need through these difficult times.
Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know needs mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person’s life, long term. Pursuing support at the beginning of one’s journey can put the individual in the best position to learn how to manage themselves in a healthy way so they can go on to live happy and fulfilling lives.
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