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Do I Have Ocd Or Anxiety

Ocd Obsessions And Compulsions

Do You Have OCD? What A Specialist Looks For!

Obsessions are involuntary thoughts, images, or impulses that occur over and over again in your mind. You dont want to have these ideas, but you cant stop them. Unfortunately, these obsessive thoughts are often disturbing and distracting.

Compulsions are behaviors or rituals that you feel driven to act out again and again. Usually, compulsions are performed in an attempt to make obsessions go away. For example, if youre afraid of contamination, you might develop elaborate cleaning rituals. However, the relief never lasts. In fact, the obsessive thoughts usually come back stronger. And the compulsive rituals and behaviors often end up causing anxiety themselves as they become more demanding and time-consuming. This is the vicious cycle of OCD.

When Do Personality Quirks Cross The Line Into Obsessive

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Hooked on hand sanitizer? Closet organized to a T? Quirks like this can usually be chalked up to personality or preference, but in some cases they may point to a more serious issue: obsessive-compulsive disorder , a condition marked by obsessive thoughts and compulsions that affects about 1% of U.S. adults.

How can you tell if OCD tendencies are symptoms that require professional help? There’s no easy test, as it’s usually a matter of degree, says Jeff Szymanski, PhD, executive director of the International OCD Foundation, a Boston-based advocacy organization. Still, there are certain patterns that may indicate the full-blown disorder. Here are 10 of the most common.

Anxiety Management Techniques For Ocd

Anxiety management techniques can help a person to manage their own symptoms. Such techniques can include relaxation training, slow breathing techniques, mindfulness meditation and hyperventilation control. These techniques require regular practice and are most effective if used together with a cognitive behaviour therapy treatment program.

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Difference Between Ocd And Anxiety

  • People with anxiety disorder tend to jump from one anxiety to another throughout their day, whereas those with OCD are more likely to obsess on particular anxiety and devote excessive attention to it.
  • According to Tom Corboy, a famous psychotherapist, the key highlight in those with OCD is that these are not just random passing thoughts, but rather repeated thoughts that are causing great distress precisely because the thoughts are antithetical to the sufferers true self.
  • Those with anxiety disorders may not perform any specific rituals or behaviors to ease their train of thought. Whereas, OCD primarily characterizes by a repetitive and obsessive need to perform certain rituals to satisfy intrusive and irrational thoughts/fears.

Ocd Can Have A Profound Effect On A Persons Life

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Compulsions and obsessions may take up many hours of a persons day and can interfere with family and social relationships. They can also have a negative effect on education and employment. As OCD becomes more severe, avoidance may become an increasing problem. The person may avoid anything that might trigger their obsessive fears. OCD can make it difficult for people to perform everyday activities like eating, drinking, shopping or reading. Some people may become housebound. OCD is often compounded by depression and other anxiety disorders, including social anxiety, panic disorder and separation anxiety. People with OCD are often acutely embarrassed about their symptoms and will put great effort into hiding them. Before the disorder is identified and treated, families may become deeply involved in the sufferers rituals, which can cause distress and disruption to family members.

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Major Depressive Disorder: Key Aspects

The American Psychiatric Association defines depression as a mood disorder that causes a substantial decrease in well-being, in regard to several different areas of life. On an emotional level, depression brings with it feelings of sadness, loneliness, emptiness, a lack of pleasure or energy, and hopelessness. On a cognitive level, depression engenders detrimental beliefs that negative experiences are the individuals fault, that the world around them is a lonely and scary place, and that things will never improve. On an interpersonal level, depression is marked by actions and responses to others that destabilize their relationships and create a rift between the individual suffering from depression and those around them.

Depression can often severely hinder an individuals sense of self-worth, their place in society, and their day-to-day functioning.

Depression Demographics: Depressionis a relatively prevalent mental health disorder,affecting about one in 15 adults of the adult population. In the US, 17.3 million adults have reportedly experienced one or more depressive episodes during their lifetime.

Several risk factors have been shown to increase the chance of developing MDD. These include genetics, childhood environment, a temperamental inclination, later life events, and the existence of additional mental or medical conditions.

Gad Or Ocd: How Do I Know

Both OCD and GAD are long-lasting, and both involve excessive anxiety, rumination and intrusive thoughts. It can be difficult to figure out which you might be experiencing. While it is possible for people who have been diagnosed with OCD to also have GAD, lets check out the key differences in symptoms:


  • Worry over more than one realistic negative outcome
  • Multiple areas of focus, life areas or activities
  • Accompanied by at least three physical symptoms

As you can see from above, the presence of obsessions and compulsions are a key distinction of OCD. Repetitive or ritualized behavior is notpresent in GAD or other anxiety-related conditions. Other key distinctions are that anxiety that is due to GAD is accompanied by physical symptoms, whereas physical symptoms are not often reported in those who experience OCD alone.

The primary feature of OCD is the presence of obsessions and compulsions , so if you identify with these descriptions even if you have been diagnosed with GAD it is possible that you have OCD.

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The Difference Between Ocd And Anxiety

The difference, then, is about nuance specifically, where anxieties come from and how theyre dealt with.

In anxiety, the intrusive thoughts and fears are often overwhelming and debilitating. Theyre also often a result of a once-realistic fear that has either been avoided to the point of discomfort or has begun to affect someones quality of life.

In OCD however, the fear is obsessive l from the beginning and people engage in unhealthy behaviors to deal with it.

A good example of OCD in practice might be someone who is afraid of home invasion, and therefore checks that their front door is locked dozens of times a day when they have no reason to believe anything has changed with their door lock.

An anxious person, meanwhile, would likely respond differently, either by avoiding being home alone or by installing extra security.

What Is The Difference Between Anxiety And Ocd

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Anxious feelings manifest themselves in many different ways, and almost everyone experiences anxious feelings at one time or another. Whether its as simple as worrying about what to wear or as serious as fearing a loved ones death, anyone can struggle with anxiety without being diagnosed with OCD. However, it is impossible for someone struggling with OCD to not also be struggling with anxiety.

When we get asked about how anxiety and OCD are related, we call it a distinction without a difference. While the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders treats anxiety disorders and OCD as separate diagnoses, anxiety is best understood as existing on a spectrum, with OCD at the extreme end.

That said, the only difference between the two is that OCD is defined by how an individual responds to anxiety in their daily life. People who are not struggling with OCD deal with anxious feelings in ways that do not interfere with their quality of life.

But when someone is struggling with OCD, they have formed maladaptive behaviors based on an immediate threat that only exists in their mind. To guard against that perceived threat, they invent rituals or avoidance behaviors to prevent the unfounded threat or danger.

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What Is Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized anxiety disorders are when you have a persisting and disproportionately large amount of stress and worry about various events and/or activities, including your home routine. This nagging worry, and even panic, is very hard to bring down and will affect your physical health as much as, your mental and emotional health.

Oftentimes, people dealing with GAD are experiencing worry around money, job loss, bills, relationships, divorce, or some other major life stressor. In order to be diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, this worry, stress, and anxiety must last at least 6 months.

Mindfulness And Erp For Health Anxiety Ocd

Exposure and Response Prevention , simply put, is a process where you confront your fears about your health and refrain from doing compulsions. People often think of mindfulness and ERP as two separate strategies when in fact mindfulness is often a part of ERP. While doing exposure to your fear you are mindfully allowing yourself to both approach and remain in the presence of your fear and mindfully choosing not to engage in compulsions. The purpose of this exercise is to essentially retrain your brain to respond to the obsessive thoughts without doing compulsions which ultimately teaches your brain that these thoughts are irrelevant and require no response.

Learning to respond differently to these thoughts ultimately results in accepting uncertainty about their meaning. This both reduces your anxiety about the thoughts and increases your willingness to feel whatever anxiety may remain.

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Does It Ever Get Better

In short, yes, it absolutely can get better.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is the main way of combating health anxiety. As a matter-of-fact, its considered the gold standard of psychotherapy.

I like to say the first step to anything is realizing you actually have health anxiety. If youve searched for the term once, youve taken the biggest step there is. I also say the next time you see your doctor for reassurance, ask them to refer you for CBT.

One of the most helpful CBT booklets I used to combat my health anxiety was free worksheets shared on No More Panic by cognitive therapist Robin Hall, who also runs CBT4Panic. All you need to do is download and print them and youll be on your way to overcoming something I wouldnt wish on my greatest enemy.

Of course, because were all wired so differently, CBT doesnt have to be the be-all-end-all of overcoming health anxiety.

If youve tried it and it hasnt worked for you, that doesnt mean youre beyond help. Other therapies such as exposure and response prevention might just be the key that CBT wasnt.

ERP is a commonly used form of therapy to combat obsessive-compulsive thoughts. While it and CBT share some aspects, exposure therapy is about facing your fears. Essentially, where CBT gets to the bottom of why you feel the way you do and how to fix it, ERP is asking the open-ended, and, so what if x did happen?

Why Ocd Isnt An Anxiety Disorder

How To Know If You Have Anxiety

OCD was historically conceptualized as an anxiety disorder because of the intense anxiety or fear associated with the symptoms of OCD. However, in 2013 the American Psychiatric Association removed OCD from the anxiety disorders classification and assigned a unique classification to OCD.

The change was made to emphasize distinctions in brain chemistry and function in those with OCD and related disorders, as compared to those with anxiety disorders. Areas of the brain that reveal abnormal results in studies, and that respond when anxious feelings are triggered, are different in those with OCD than in those with anxiety disorders such as GAD. These differences are important to understanding and treating both conditions effectively.

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Do I Have Ocd Or Anxiety

The only way of telling if one has OCD or anxiety is to focus on the symptoms, with the main differentiation being the presence of obsessions and compulsions in OCD. The line between OCD and anxiety is often blurred, especially when the obsessions are not so clear-cut or fully formed. In some instances, the individual obsessions could be misconstrued as good behavior, or in the case of mental compulsions, they may not be seen.

In such cases, the difference between the two conditions is a matter of degree and content. GAD sources or worry and concern are usually common issues from relationships to the economy. On the other hand, OCD issues tend to be out of touch with reality and crazier compared to GAD ones or how things happen.

In terms of degree, the obsessive thoughts are also much more forceful and intrusive in OCD than in GAD. They are more frequent and are often unwanted, causing much distress since they are often opposite to how the patient views themselves. For example, an individual could be obsessing over causing harm to himself or others when they view themselves as non-violent, which goes against their values. Further, you may have OCD if you find that such thoughts cause a pronounced detrimental effect on your daily life. Ultimately, only a proper test by a trained mental health doctor will provide the ultimate diagnosis.

Can You Have Ocd And Anxiety

Yes, it is possible to have both OCD and anxiety either happening concurrently or one condition developing later in life after one has been diagnosed with the other. Such occurrences are more common than one might expect. According to the study, the co-occurrence of GAD and OCD is quite high, with about 30% of adults who have OCD later developing GAD.

Correct understanding of the differences between the two conditions is important for the patient and the therapist as it helps a patient note any difference in the presentation of their condition. The psychiatrist can know when the two conditions are present and prescribe the right treatment plan.

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Why Anxiety And Ocd Can Look Alike

The difference between anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder can be difficult to distinguish.

Theres a good reason for this: they are similar so similar that even the all-important mental health guidebook the DSM-5 once categorized OCD as anxiety. In fact, its only recently that the two have been given separate chapters.

This is all part of an ongoing discussion in the mental health space, but for now, the important thing is that both experts and normal people alike notice plenty of overlap between anxiety and OCD.

OCD and anxiety have several symptoms in common.

For instance, anxiety is often characterized as an unease created by intrusive thoughts or patterns of thought leading to the following symptoms:

  • Excessive Worry

  • Sleep disturbance

  • Distress and Impairment in social situations

Meanwhile, OCD is often described as compulsions as a result of intrusive and uncontrollable thoughts that cause distress and impact daily life symptoms where people have recurring thoughts or behaviors that they feel they must repeat over and over and over again.

In other words, both individuals may appear anxious and in distress, and be dealing with patterns of thought that may cause distress in patterns that affect their quality of life.

Oh, and theres a common comorbidity between the two conditions, as well as many as 30 percent of people with OCD may also experience generalized anxiety disorder or another form of anxiety disorder in their lifetime.

It can be confusing.

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