Is it OCD?
I have been in the practice of therapy for nearly 17 years now. Never before have I heard so many people refer to themselves as "obsessive" or "ocd."
This reflects an overall increase in access to information for consumers, which I'm all for. I prefer to be an informed consumer when it comes to most things. With the media, and particularly due to the world wide web, we have access to more information at the click of a mouse than ever before.
Unfortunately and fortunately the information on the web both broadens definitions of disorders like OCD and dilutes them at the same time.
Here is the official diagnostic criteria from the Diagnostic Criteria From DSM-IV (American Psychiatric Association).
A. Either obsessions or compulsions:
Obsessions as defined by (1), (2), (3) and (4):
(1) recurrent and persistent thoughts, impulses, or
images that are experienced at some time during
the disturbance, as intrusive and inappropriate and
that cause marked anxiety or distress
(2) the thoughts, impulses, or images are not simply
excessive worries about real-life problems
(3) the person attempts to ignore or suppress such
thoughts, impulses, or images, or to neutralize
them with some other thought or action
(4) the person recognizes that the obsessional
thoughts, impulses, or images are a product of his
or her own mind (not imposed from without as in
Compulsions as defined by (1) and (2):
(1) repetitive behaviors (e.g. hand washing, ordering,
checking) or mental acts (e.g., praying, counting,
repeating words silently) that the person feels
driven to perform in response to an obsession, or
according to rules that must be applied rigidly
(2) the behaviors or mental acts are aimed at prevent-
ing or reducing distress or preventing some dreaded
event or situation; however, these behaviors or
mental acts either are not connected in a realistic
way with what they are designed to neutralize or
prevent or are clearly excessive
B. At some point during the course of the disorder, the
person has recognized that the obsessions or
compulsions are excessive or unreasonable. NOTE:
This does apply to children.
C. The obsessions or compulsions cause marked
distress, are time consuming (taking more than
1 hour a day), or significantly interfere with the
person's normal routine, occupational
(or academic) functioning, or usual social
activities or relationships.
D. If another Axis I disorder is present, the content
of the obsessions or compulsions is not restricted
to it (e.g., preoccupation with food in the presence
of an Eating Disorder; hair pulling in the presence
of Trichotillomania; concern with appearance in the
presence of Body Dysmorphic Disorder; preoccupation
with drugs in the presence of a Substance Use
Disorder; preoccupation with having a serious
illness in the presence of Hypochondriasis;
preoccupation with sexual urges or fantasies in the
presence of a paraphilia; or guilty ruminations in
the presence of Major Depressive Disorder).
E. The disturbance is not due to the direct
physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug
of abuse, a medication) or a general medical
I hope this information is helpful to you. OCD is a complex diagnosis to make. The information shared above may be helpful, but it in no way can take the place of a professional
evaluation. An incorrect diagnosis can be as harmful as not knowing what the issue is or having incorrect information about OCD.
Each of the conditions in part "D" above absolutely have to ruled out BEFORE a correct diagnosis can be made.
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