Roughly 2-3% of American adults are affected by obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). One out of two patients have severe enough symptoms that their condition causes significant disruption to their lives.
As a board-certified psychiatrist, Dr. Ifeanyi Olele of Genesis Psychiatric Solutions creates customized treatment plans for patients with OCD, with options ranging from talk therapy to select medications.
Factors affecting your risk of OCD
No one is entirely certain what causes OCD, but it’s commonly agreed that there is a familial link. If you have a parent, sibling, or child with OCD, your chances of OCD go up.
This risk increases if your family member’s OCD was marked enough to be diagnosed while they were still a child.
Symptoms of OCD
There are both obvious and easily masked symptoms of OCD.
Obvious symptoms are those most commonly associated with OCD and the most likely to be portrayed in the media are. They include:
- Germaphobia, obsessive hand-washing, and/or surface cleaning
- Counting aloud or conducting a running recital of various facts
- Repetitive actions, such as flipping a light switch or locking and unlocking a door
Internal symptoms of OCD that may often be masked but that may also emerge in extreme form in severe cases include:
- Extreme anxiety and inability to handle uncertainty or breaks in routine
- A need for symmetry, order, or matching of objects or actions
- Aggressive or violent thoughts or fantasies about loss of control or causing harm
- Unwanted religious and/or sexual thoughts or actions
Patterns in OCD diagnosis
If you weren’t diagnosed with OCD in childhood, you’re likely to be diagnosed well before you reach legal drinking age. Most people with OCD are diagnosed by their 19th birthday, although some cases aren’t diagnosed until past the age of 30 or even 35.
Your gender can affect how your OCD is expressed, which can mean an earlier or later diagnosis.
OCD in women
Women’s symptoms are more socially acceptable and fit in with expected gender norms.
Most women are diagnosed in their mid-20s, have an eating disorder, have OCD behaviors associated with cleaning, and suffer from poor impulse control. Most live with a partner who may encourage them to seek a diagnosis.
OCD in men
Men’s symptoms are more obvious and less socially acceptable, leading to diagnosis in childhood. Men with OCD are statistically more likely single when diagnosed and have facial or hand-gesturing tics.
They may also be more likely to suffer from substance abuse and/or to display aggressive and sexual-religious symptoms.
While OCD cannot be cured, it can be managed. Dr. Olele meets with you and then creates a specialized OCD treatment plan designed to alleviate your symptoms and stress.
In many cases, talk therapy is one way to learn how to recognize when you’re having an OCD episode and learning how to break out of the cycle of thoughts or actions.
Medications for OCD
Dr. Olele might also prescribe medications to help you control unwanted impulses or obsessions. These can include antidepressants and/or antipsychotic medications, but taking these medications doesn’t mean you have clinical depression or are psychotic.
The medications simply help people with OCD manage their condition. There may be a period when we have you try several medications to find the right one or ones that work best for you. This process can take anywhere from several weeks to several months.
With proper treatment and medication, you can learn to manage your OCD symptoms. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with Dr. Olele, or ask about available telepsychiatry appointments.
Telepsychiatry is a convenient option if you live too far from one of our offices, which are located in Fairfax and Alexandria, Virginia; Washington, DC; Los Angeles, California; and Boca Raton, Florida.