Obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD affects somewhere from 2 million to 3 million adults in the United States and roughly 1 out of every 200 children, according to the International OCD Foundation. If you're wondering whether or not you have obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD, you've likely noticed some symptoms that are impacting your life. The media is quick to misrepresent OCD, depicting it as a condition where people are obsessed with cleanliness. In reality, that is only one potential way that OCD can Present. The truth is that obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD can impact people in many different ways. Read on to learn the facts about OCD and what to expect when you take an OCD test or screener.
What Is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?
OCD is a mental health disorder characterized by obsessions and compulsions.
Obsessions might look like persistent intrusive thoughts, fear, avoidance of situations or places that present you with your triggers, severe and intense stress, intrusive mental images, a hyper fixation on scenarios or events, and doubts. One example of this is, if you have OCD and struggle with checking, you might ruminate over the thought of potentially having left the stove on or leaving the door unlocked.
Compulsions are repetitive behaviors or mental acts. Compulsions might look like obsessively washing or cleaning, ordering, strict routines that cause anxiety when you think of breaking them, a need for reassurance, or checking. For example, suppose you have the struggle mentioned above to check and ruminate over leaving a door unlocked or an appliance on. In that case, your compulsion might be going back repetitively to check and make sure that the appliance is off door is indeed locked.
Symptoms of OCD may include intrusive thoughts, repetitive speech, repetitive behaviors, rumination, anxiety, hoarding, hypervigilance, compulsive behavior, and more. Obsessions and compulsions are not quirks. Obsessive-compulsive disorder can be debilitating, but the good news is that it's treatable.
Common Types Of OCD
The obsessive-compulsive disorder manifests differently for everyone. Potential manifestation or subtypes of OCD include
Contamination obsessions are characterized by compulsive behaviors such as excessive washing or excessive sanitizing and cleaning due to the sense of severe discomfort one feels in the face of potential contamination, without a rational reason for this fear. This is a commonly spoken about type of OCD, and while cleanliness is a good thing, contamination obsessions are much more than that, and they can be debilitating. It might begin to impact a person's life and ability to function to the extent that it impacts work, relationships, or other areas of life, just as any form of OCD can.
Symmetry or order obsessions, which is another commonly spoken form of OCD, where someone feels the need to make sure that everything is ordered properly. When things are not ordered correctly or are not symmetrical, someone might experience severe distress or comfort. Often, the way intrusive thoughts will manifest in this form of OCD is that a person will have a thought that leads them to obsess over arranging objects because they fear that if they do not, something bad will happen. For example, the intrusive thought might be, "if I don't order this properly, something bad will happen to my child." It's not that someone doesn't have the logic to understand that this is unlikely to be true - the intrusive nature of the thought is simply so severe that it causes tremendous distress.
Harm obsessions with checking compulsions occur when someone experiences recurrent and severe distress about the potential occurrence of harmful events. For example, someone might obsess over having potentially left the coffee pot because the house could burn down or worry that the door is unlocked and that someone could break-in, even if they know that this is highly unlikely. This is a form of OCD where someone will check things repeatedly to diminish distress and make sure that harm is not transpiring and that everything is okay. Someone might even feel the need to repeatedly check in with family members to make sure that nothing bad happened to them, with or without reason.
Relationship OCD, which is exactly what it sounds like. Relationship OCD is a type of OCD that surrounds romantic relationships. The obsessions and compulsions that may occur with this kind of OCD can harm relationships substantially or make them difficult, especially if someone's not aware of what's going on.
Some people also have what is nicknamed "pure O" or purely obsessive OCD. This form of OCD is one where, unlike other OCD manifestations, which all include compulsions, someone experiences obsessions only. The good news is the treatment is available for all types of OCD. This is by no means the end of all of the potential manifestations of OCD, so if you think you may have OCD that manifests differently, know that it doesn't need to fit into one of these boxes. For example, someone might have OCD that surrounds disturbing or forbidden thoughts. Some disorders are not OCD but that is similar to OCD. An example of this would be body dysmorphic disorder or BDD.
What To Expect When You Take An OCD Test
Here are some things to expect when you take an OCD test online:
- Expect that you will answer a series of questions. Some tests may be longer or shorter than others, so keep this in mind and ensure that you have adequate time to take the test.
- Expect that, if applicable, it will give you insight into your symptoms and how they're impacting your life. This can be both validating and eye-opening.
- Expect that an online test can only do so much. Expect that it won't be able to tell you if you have OCD for sure. Remember that an online OCD test is not a replacement for a diagnosis of OCD. To get a diagnosis, you must see a medical or mental health professional who can diagnose mental health conditions. To find someone who can evaluate you and provide you with a formal diagnosis, contact your doctor or look for a psychiatrist.
What To Do After You Take An OCD Test
After you take an OCD test or screener, consider speaking to a mental health provider. Again, it's not a diagnosis, but the power of an online OCD test is that it can help you recognize your symptoms and get closer to finding the answers and help you're looking for. Many people reach out after researching a mental health condition or taking an online screener because it provides them with that sense of insight and confirmation. Once you take the OCD test, you might make an appointment with your general doctor, where you can talk about your symptoms. You can ask for a referral to a counselor or therapist near you at that appointment, or you can find one on your own or through your insurance company. You may also consider online therapy.
Therapy or counseling is a common treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD. Often, therapists use modalities such as cognitive-behavioral therapy or CBT to treat OCD. Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) Therapy is a specific type of CBT often used for OCD. Therapy is shown to be effective for OCD.
Supplements To Treatment
If you're waiting for your first appointment after a diagnosis, are in between appointments, or want additional support, there are some things you can do. For example, you may consider reading up on OCD or using OCD workbooks. Here are some self-help books for OCD:
Freedom From Obsessive Compulsive Disorder by Jonathan Grayson
The OCD Workbook by Bruce M. Hyman and Cherry Pedrick
The Perfectionist's Handbook by Jeff Szymanski
Loud stuff: A Teen's Guide to Unspiraling When OCD Gets Noisy by Lisa Coyne and Ben Sedley (made for teens)
Peer support through online forums and support groups may also be beneficial.
Why Get A Diagnosis?
A formal OCD diagnosis is beneficial for several reasons. First, it's personal confirmation. Once you know what you're going through, you can approach it appropriately and find the support you need. Some mental health diagnoses have symptoms that overlap, so a formal diagnosis is best if or when it's accessible to you. Second, a diagnosis can be beneficial if you need accommodations of any kind at work or school for a medical or mental health condition. Third, if you need to apply for disability benefits due to OCD, you will need medical documentation and proof that the condition impacts your work ability. Additionally, a diagnosis is important for insurance and treatment coverage purposes in many cases.
Take The Mind Diagnostics Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Test
Do you think that you could have OCD? If so, consider taking the Mind Diagnostics OCD test. It's free, fast, and confidential. After you take the Mind Diagnostics OCD test, you'll get your results via email immediately after submission. Though people of all ages can have OCD, the Mind Diagnostics OCD test is for those aged 18 and older.
Click here to take the Mind Diagnostics OCD Test.