OCD Symptoms and Diagnosis

OCD is a neuropsychological disorder that affects approximately 1-2% of the population in any given year. It is important to get an accurate diagnosis of OCD in order to ensure the most appropriate treatment. Diagnosis is ideally made by a mental health professional, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist.

People with OCD typically have what are known as 1) obsessions, 2) compulsions, or both.

1) Obsessions: An obsession refers to persistent, intrusive thoughts that occur frequently, and cause significant anxiety or distress. For this pattern of thinking to meet the full criteria for being an obsession, the person has to either try to suppress the intrusive thought, or try to neutralize it was some kind of action, such as washing one’s hands, or engaging in some other kind of compulsive ritual.

2) Compulsions: A compulsion is a repetitive behavior someone feels driven to perform in order to reduce the distress of an obsession, or due to some rigidly helped rule or set of rules. Common compulsions include checking, counting, washing, or praying. Compulsions need not be limited to overt physical behaviors, as there are many people who engage in thinking compulsions, such as mentally repeating certain words in their heads, or going through some kind of ritual in their minds.

Some degree of obsessions and compulsions are considered well within the scope of normal behavior. These symptoms rise to the level of a disorder only when the obsessions or compulsions become excessively time consuming, such as a compulsion that can take an hour to perform, or if either causes clinically significant emotional distress.

If you think you may have some of these symptoms, it is important to consult with a mental health professional. OCD is highly treatable and responds well to cognitive-behavioral therapy, but only with an accurate diagnosis. At Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Los Angeles, we specialize in treatment for anxiety disorders, such as OCD. Call or email today to make an appointment.