Is It Obsessive-compulsive Disorder or Something Else?

Reviewed Nov 10, 2017

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Summary

  • Sometimes mistaken for autism or Tourette syndrome
  • Often co-occurs with other disorders
  • Symptoms may be due to some other health issue

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) has become a popular topic in today’s culture. It is common to hear others refer to a classmate or co-worker as having OCD. A person who is fussy or routine-oriented may be thought to have it. Some people even say they are “being OCD” during times of worry or stress.

The fact is most people will show OCD-like symptoms from time to time. This does not mean they have the disorder. OCD is more than just having certain routines or worries. OCD involves a series of obsessions and compulsions that upset one’s life. A person with OCD has these thoughts and rituals for over an hour each day.

Symptoms of OCD

Obsessions

Obsessions are thoughts or images that happen over and over again in one’s mind. They can be very disturbing. The person will often realize these obsessions are not reasonable. At the same time, the person is not able to stop them.

Some common obsessions can be:

  • Feeling one’s hands are full of germs
  • Feeling something important is being left undone
  • Feeling of impending doom
  • Feeling of causing harm to one’s self or loved ones
  • Feeling items are out of place or order
  • Feeling too much guilt about religion
  • Feeling repulsed by sexual urges

Compulsions

Compulsions are rituals done due to obsessions. The person does not want to repeat the rituals, but feels compelled to do so. She feels something bad will happen if she does not do them. Doing the rituals will not make the obsessions go away but may give some short-term relief.

Some common compulsions are:

  • Repeatedly washing hands
  • Checking and rechecking things
  • Touching and putting things in order
  • Repeating sequences of steps
  • Repeating words
  • Counting

Sometimes it’s something else

OCD is sometimes mistaken for other ailments such as autism or Tourette syndrome.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)

ASD is an illness that affects the way a person interacts and learns. A person with ASD will sometimes repeat actions. In this way it is like OCD. Other symptoms include not understanding the ways people typically relate. For example, a person with ASD might avoid eye contact or not take another person’s feelings into account.

Tourette syndrome (TS)

TS is a disorder of the nervous system. It causes a person to repeat movements and utterances. These tics cannot be controlled by the person. Examples include eye blinking and throat clearing. Tic disorders often co-occur with OCD.

Co-occurring disorders

Besides tic disorders, many other illnesses can co-occur with OCD. These include bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, ADHD, and depression. Eating disorders and substance use disorders are also quite common. OCD should always be treated apart from any co-occurring disease.

Bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder is a mental illness marked by extreme mood swings. A person with the disease may go back and forth between very high and very low feelings. The high periods are called mania. The low periods are called depression.

Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a long-term mental illness that affects millions of adults. It disrupts a person’s thinking, causing odd outward behavior. People with the illness often hear voices. They may also see things that aren’t really there.

ADHD

ADHD stands for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. It is one of the most common disorders among school-aged kids. ADHD can also continue into adulthood. People with ADHD will have trouble staying focused. Many of them will also act hyper and impulsive. Boys are three to four times more likely to have ADHD than girls.

Getting help

Sometimes OCD symptoms can be substance-induced or medication-induced. They may also be due to some other health issue. If you think you might have OCD, you should be checked out by a doctor. If nothing is physically found wrong, you may be referred to a mental health specialist. If you do get diagnosed with OCD, do not fret. OCD is a long-term disease, but through proper treatment recovery is possible.

Resources

National Alliance on Mental Illness
www.nami.org
www.nami.org/NAMI/media/NAMI-Media/Images/FactSheets/OCD-FS.pdf

By Kevin Rizzo
Source: National Alliance on Mental Illness, www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Obsessive-compulsive-Disorder and www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Schizophrenia; National Institute of Mental Health, www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd/index.shtml, www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/bipolar-disorder/index.shtml and www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd/index.shtml; Mental Health America, www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/ocd; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/index.html, www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/tourette/index.html and www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/tourette/ocd.html
Reviewed by Paulo Correa, MD, Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • Sometimes mistaken for autism or Tourette syndrome
  • Often co-occurs with other disorders
  • Symptoms may be due to some other health issue

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) has become a popular topic in today’s culture. It is common to hear others refer to a classmate or co-worker as having OCD. A person who is fussy or routine-oriented may be thought to have it. Some people even say they are “being OCD” during times of worry or stress.

The fact is most people will show OCD-like symptoms from time to time. This does not mean they have the disorder. OCD is more than just having certain routines or worries. OCD involves a series of obsessions and compulsions that upset one’s life. A person with OCD has these thoughts and rituals for over an hour each day.

Symptoms of OCD

Obsessions

Obsessions are thoughts or images that happen over and over again in one’s mind. They can be very disturbing. The person will often realize these obsessions are not reasonable. At the same time, the person is not able to stop them.

Some common obsessions can be:

  • Feeling one’s hands are full of germs
  • Feeling something important is being left undone
  • Feeling of impending doom
  • Feeling of causing harm to one’s self or loved ones
  • Feeling items are out of place or order
  • Feeling too much guilt about religion
  • Feeling repulsed by sexual urges

Compulsions

Compulsions are rituals done due to obsessions. The person does not want to repeat the rituals, but feels compelled to do so. She feels something bad will happen if she does not do them. Doing the rituals will not make the obsessions go away but may give some short-term relief.

Some common compulsions are:

  • Repeatedly washing hands
  • Checking and rechecking things
  • Touching and putting things in order
  • Repeating sequences of steps
  • Repeating words
  • Counting

Sometimes it’s something else

OCD is sometimes mistaken for other ailments such as autism or Tourette syndrome.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)

ASD is an illness that affects the way a person interacts and learns. A person with ASD will sometimes repeat actions. In this way it is like OCD. Other symptoms include not understanding the ways people typically relate. For example, a person with ASD might avoid eye contact or not take another person’s feelings into account.

Tourette syndrome (TS)

TS is a disorder of the nervous system. It causes a person to repeat movements and utterances. These tics cannot be controlled by the person. Examples include eye blinking and throat clearing. Tic disorders often co-occur with OCD.

Co-occurring disorders

Besides tic disorders, many other illnesses can co-occur with OCD. These include bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, ADHD, and depression. Eating disorders and substance use disorders are also quite common. OCD should always be treated apart from any co-occurring disease.

Bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder is a mental illness marked by extreme mood swings. A person with the disease may go back and forth between very high and very low feelings. The high periods are called mania. The low periods are called depression.

Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a long-term mental illness that affects millions of adults. It disrupts a person’s thinking, causing odd outward behavior. People with the illness often hear voices. They may also see things that aren’t really there.

ADHD

ADHD stands for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. It is one of the most common disorders among school-aged kids. ADHD can also continue into adulthood. People with ADHD will have trouble staying focused. Many of them will also act hyper and impulsive. Boys are three to four times more likely to have ADHD than girls.

Getting help

Sometimes OCD symptoms can be substance-induced or medication-induced. They may also be due to some other health issue. If you think you might have OCD, you should be checked out by a doctor. If nothing is physically found wrong, you may be referred to a mental health specialist. If you do get diagnosed with OCD, do not fret. OCD is a long-term disease, but through proper treatment recovery is possible.

Resources

National Alliance on Mental Illness
www.nami.org
www.nami.org/NAMI/media/NAMI-Media/Images/FactSheets/OCD-FS.pdf

By Kevin Rizzo
Source: National Alliance on Mental Illness, www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Obsessive-compulsive-Disorder and www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Schizophrenia; National Institute of Mental Health, www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd/index.shtml, www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/bipolar-disorder/index.shtml and www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd/index.shtml; Mental Health America, www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/ocd; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/index.html, www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/tourette/index.html and www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/tourette/ocd.html
Reviewed by Paulo Correa, MD, Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • Sometimes mistaken for autism or Tourette syndrome
  • Often co-occurs with other disorders
  • Symptoms may be due to some other health issue

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) has become a popular topic in today’s culture. It is common to hear others refer to a classmate or co-worker as having OCD. A person who is fussy or routine-oriented may be thought to have it. Some people even say they are “being OCD” during times of worry or stress.

The fact is most people will show OCD-like symptoms from time to time. This does not mean they have the disorder. OCD is more than just having certain routines or worries. OCD involves a series of obsessions and compulsions that upset one’s life. A person with OCD has these thoughts and rituals for over an hour each day.

Symptoms of OCD

Obsessions

Obsessions are thoughts or images that happen over and over again in one’s mind. They can be very disturbing. The person will often realize these obsessions are not reasonable. At the same time, the person is not able to stop them.

Some common obsessions can be:

  • Feeling one’s hands are full of germs
  • Feeling something important is being left undone
  • Feeling of impending doom
  • Feeling of causing harm to one’s self or loved ones
  • Feeling items are out of place or order
  • Feeling too much guilt about religion
  • Feeling repulsed by sexual urges

Compulsions

Compulsions are rituals done due to obsessions. The person does not want to repeat the rituals, but feels compelled to do so. She feels something bad will happen if she does not do them. Doing the rituals will not make the obsessions go away but may give some short-term relief.

Some common compulsions are:

  • Repeatedly washing hands
  • Checking and rechecking things
  • Touching and putting things in order
  • Repeating sequences of steps
  • Repeating words
  • Counting

Sometimes it’s something else

OCD is sometimes mistaken for other ailments such as autism or Tourette syndrome.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)

ASD is an illness that affects the way a person interacts and learns. A person with ASD will sometimes repeat actions. In this way it is like OCD. Other symptoms include not understanding the ways people typically relate. For example, a person with ASD might avoid eye contact or not take another person’s feelings into account.

Tourette syndrome (TS)

TS is a disorder of the nervous system. It causes a person to repeat movements and utterances. These tics cannot be controlled by the person. Examples include eye blinking and throat clearing. Tic disorders often co-occur with OCD.

Co-occurring disorders

Besides tic disorders, many other illnesses can co-occur with OCD. These include bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, ADHD, and depression. Eating disorders and substance use disorders are also quite common. OCD should always be treated apart from any co-occurring disease.

Bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder is a mental illness marked by extreme mood swings. A person with the disease may go back and forth between very high and very low feelings. The high periods are called mania. The low periods are called depression.

Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a long-term mental illness that affects millions of adults. It disrupts a person’s thinking, causing odd outward behavior. People with the illness often hear voices. They may also see things that aren’t really there.

ADHD

ADHD stands for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. It is one of the most common disorders among school-aged kids. ADHD can also continue into adulthood. People with ADHD will have trouble staying focused. Many of them will also act hyper and impulsive. Boys are three to four times more likely to have ADHD than girls.

Getting help

Sometimes OCD symptoms can be substance-induced or medication-induced. They may also be due to some other health issue. If you think you might have OCD, you should be checked out by a doctor. If nothing is physically found wrong, you may be referred to a mental health specialist. If you do get diagnosed with OCD, do not fret. OCD is a long-term disease, but through proper treatment recovery is possible.

Resources

National Alliance on Mental Illness
www.nami.org
www.nami.org/NAMI/media/NAMI-Media/Images/FactSheets/OCD-FS.pdf

By Kevin Rizzo
Source: National Alliance on Mental Illness, www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Obsessive-compulsive-Disorder and www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Schizophrenia; National Institute of Mental Health, www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd/index.shtml, www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/bipolar-disorder/index.shtml and www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd/index.shtml; Mental Health America, www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/ocd; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/index.html, www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/tourette/index.html and www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/tourette/ocd.html
Reviewed by Paulo Correa, MD, Medical Director, Beacon Health Options

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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