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Do I Have OCD? 7 Warning Signs of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Do I Have OCD? 7 Warning Signs of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
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Do I have OCD? The answer to this question is important for anyone concerned with their mental health. Obsessive-compulsive disorder afflicts about 1 percent of Americans. Characterized by obsessions over cleanliness, organization and other repetitive behaviors, OCD is a serious issue for people of every age and walk of life. But how do you know if your quirks over cleanliness and organization are mere matters of personality and preference – or warning signs of obsessive-compulsive disorder? The following seven warning signs of OCD will help you determine the difference between OCD tendencies and a full-blown anxiety disorder.

1. I frequently wash my hands. Do I have OCD?

People with OCD wash their hands so compulsively that the term “washers” is now widely accepted as a category of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Driven by an obsession over germs, compulsive hand washers possess intense fears of making others sick or of being immoral or impure. If you worry about germs even after washing your hands, then this is a warning sign of OCD. An irrational fear about disease is another warning sign, along with concerns over not scrubbing well enough. An elaborate hand-washing routine consisting of five washes at a time is a surefire sign of obsessive-compulsive disorder.

2. I clean compulsively. Do I have OCD?

In addition to hand-washing, people with OCD tend to clean compulsively. The implication for cleaning is a strong fear of germs and impurity. Cleaning may alleviate your obsessive thoughts – but if that relief is short-lived, then you may have OCD. If the urge to clean grows stronger over time, then this is another warning sign. Anyone who cleans for hours on end is at risk of OCD. However, the main factor is the consequence of not cleaning. If you experience intense anxiety and fear over not cleaning, then the behavior is almost certainly related to obsessive-compulsive disorder.

3. I frequently “check” things. Do I have OCD?

The most common compulsions associated with OCD – afflicting nearly 30 percent of all people with the anxiety disorder – are checking behaviors. Obsessions that commonly drive checking behavior include fear of getting hurt and intense feelings of irresponsibility. While it’s normal to double-check something, checking something like the oven door four, five or even 20 times puts you at risk for OCD. When checking becomes a ritual that interferes with daily life, the risk for OCD is particularly prevalent.

4. I count to myself. Do I Have OCD?

If you count everyday things such as climbing the stairs, especially in a certain numeric pattern, then you might be at risk of OCD. Driven by superstition, counting behaviors lead people to believe certain numbers – such as counting to six – lead to positive (or negative) outcomes. People who are unable to get numbers out of their head may have OCD. But if counting doesn’t bother you, then you are probably in the clear.

5. I love to organize. Do I have OCD?

There is nothing wrong with a little neatness or organization. But people who take it to the level of perfectionism may have OCD. Driven by obsessions about order and symmetry, the intense need for organization may cause you to keep things symmetrical or “just right”. If neatness is simply a preference, then you may not be at risk. However, if you “need to” ensure neatness and organization – as opposed to “wanting to” – then the risk for OCD is more prevalent.

6. I worry about violence. Do I have OCD?

People with OCD are especially concerned over violence and misfortune. Although we all experience the occasional dark thought, avoiding something such as the park for fear of being mugged is a sign of OCD. Concerned with her safety, you may also call your mother multiple times a day. In this case, OCD may be a concern. Deeming them as unacceptable, people with OCD react more intensely to thoughts of violence and misfortune.

7. I have unwanted thoughts about sex. Do I have OCD?

People with OCD frequently experience recurrent unwanted thoughts about inappropriate sexual behavior. You may imagine molesting a child, for example, and deem the thought as terrible. There is nothing wrong with the occasional intrusive thought. But if you avoid certain people or situations because of an inappropriate sexual thought, then you may be at risk of OCD. Having an occasional sexual thought about a coworker is normal. Avoiding that person because of the thought is an OCD red flag.

Let us know, do you recognize any of the warning signs of OCD in your own life? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Written by Anthony D'Aconti

Anthony D'Aconti is the Founder of Breathe Into the Bag, an anxiety magazine created to help people suffering from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), OCD, PTSD, panic disorder, phobias, acute stress disorder, agoraphobia and social anxiety disorder. You can also find Anthony D'Aconti on Google+, Facebook, and Twitter

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