People often wonder what causes OCD to get worse. Most people are able to live with mild to moderate obsessive-compulsive disorder. They can learn to self-manage symptoms and prevent them from interfering with their everyday life. While the symptoms can be inconvenient, they are manageable. But what about when they start to become unmanageable? What happens when the obsessive and repeated behaviors become harder to manage and begin to severely impact the lives of those struggling with OCD?
Understanding what OCD is, its symptoms, and how they worsen can help someone make a decision to seek help in order to get these symptoms under control.
What is OCD?
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a condition in which unwanted, often irrational, fears lead to repetitive behaviors. These are the obsessions and compulsions associated with OCD. These obsessions and compulsions interfere with the functional ability to live daily life normally. Often, OCD focuses on specific fears. Sometimes these fears can center around germ contamination, and this leads to excessive hand washing and cleaning to decontaminate and reduce the risk of germs. This overwashing and overuse of cleaning chemicals can lead to the chemicals in the soaps and cleaning supplies drying out the skin.
OCD is a mental health concern and is nothing to be ashamed of. It can be treated and its symptoms can be managed. There is help for this disorder. There are also ways to help avoid the things that can make OCD worse.
Signs and Symptoms of OCD
There are different physical and emotional signs of OCD that can be exhibited, making the disorder identifiable in someone. Therefore, treatment for it can begin. Knowing the signs and symptoms of OCD can help make its identification and treatment successful, and can help to know what causes OCD to worsen.
The thoughts and fears associated with OCD are obsessions. These thoughts and fears are repetitive and they are most definitely unwanted. They can cause severe anxiety in those who struggle with OCD. Identifying these obsessions and trying to avoid them can prove to be a difficult undertaking. Some of the symptoms of obsessive symptoms can include:
- Fear of germ contamination
- Fear of loss of control resulting in harming yourself or others
- Intense sexual thoughts
- Fear of letting go of items or hoarding
- Needing things in order
- Doubting thoughts surrounding things like locked doors and shutting the stove off
The compulsive behaviors associated with OCD are repetitive actions occurring as a result of the obsessions caused by OCD. These compulsions can seemingly alleviate the anxiety the obsessive thoughts can cause. Some of the symptoms of compulsive symptoms can include:
- Excessive hand washing or cleaning
- Needing to have things sequential
- Repeating words or phrases to yourself
- Having a strict routine that must be followed
- Checking locks and appliances repeatedly
These symptoms can interfere with daily life, and make it difficult to get through the day without interruption.
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How OCD Can Get Worse
Over time, OCD has been known to worsen. What causes OCD to get worse can be a number of different factors. One of those factors can be other mental health conditions that can flare up OCD symptoms, making them more prevalent and making it more difficult to maintain daily life. Leaving the coexisting mental health disorders untreated can increase anxiety.
Other mental health disorders found in someone suffering from OCD can include:
- Anxiety disorders
- Depression and other mood disorders
- Impulse disorders
- Drug abuse
Leaving these disorders untreated can aggravate symptoms of OCD and cause more damage to a person’s life.
Preventing OCD From Getting Worse
Managing any underlying or coexisting mental health disorders can benefit the treatment of OCD. Managing these conditions, as well as OCD with medication and therapy can be helpful to managing all symptoms. What causes OCD to worsen can be managed with the right treatment plan. Learning how to manage triggers for your OCD, such as anxiety and stress, can help someone avoid these triggers.
The best and most effective way to prevent OCD from getting worse is to seek medical treatment when the symptoms become more severe. Having professionals that can help to teach of how to avoid the triggers, and cope with the feelings caused by OCD can help to teach positive ways of curbing the anxious behaviors. These professionals are trained to help those living with this condition. They can help make life with OCD more manageable.
When Is It Time to Get Help for OCD?
If someone is experiencing any of the following symptoms, they should seek help for OCD:
- Obsessions that are time-consuming or cause significant distress
- Compulsions that interfere with daily activities
- Avoidance of situations that trigger obsessions or compulsions
- Significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning
- Significant distress or impairment that has lasted for at least two weeks
For people experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to seek professional help. A mental health professional can help them to understand their OCD and develop a treatment plan that is right for them. Treatment for OCD can include medication, therapy, or a combination of both.
It is important for those suffering from OCD to remember that they are not alone. OCD is a common condition, and there are many effective treatments available. With the right help, they can manage their OCD and live a full and productive life.
Help for OCD in South Florida
The Neuroscience Institute knows OCD and its treatment. You don’t have to try to handle and manage the symptoms on your own. If you or a loved one are struggling with OCD, we can help you through the process of managing symptoms and improving your overall quality of life.
Contact us today and begin your path to a better life.