The Source of Anxiety that Drives OCD

Imagine an underground stream that feeds a pond. You can see the pond, the frogs, the water lilies, but not the underground source.

This is what happens with obsessions; there is an underground stream that feeds the worry. That is why people with OCD seem to have a never ending source of anxieties, and an equally strong drive to try to control their surroundings and all the people in it.

A person with OCD is compelled to be in control. When they feel out of control their anxiety increases. To counteract the uncomfortable feelings they take control of the situation, requiring other people to follow their orders, or they may engage in a compulsive activity which calms them. These actions are satisfying for only a short period of time. OCD is estimated to affect up to 3 percent of the American population (2009)

Who’s Out of Control?
Obsessive-compulsive people often do not realize that they need to control themselves, their own thoughts, their own feelings and their own actions. Instead, they try to control the thoughts and actions of others.

Often such people are perfectionists and they really believe that they are superior. If only everyone would listen, follow their exact directions, and be compliant, life would be better.

This attitude is driven by the need to control the chaos that surrounds the person with OCD. Not knowing something, or not being able to control circumstances causes tension and anxiety.

Is OCD Genetic?
“OCD once was thought to be primarily psychological in origin,” says Yin Yao Shugart, Ph.D., statistical geneticist and associate professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “But now there is growing evidence that there is a genetic basis behind OCD, which will help us better understand the condition,” she says… “Researchers suggest that whatever genes are found don’t directly cause OCD but increase risk for it in conjunction with other genes or environmental factors.” To read this article …[full article]

When does OCD occur?
Obsessive and compulsive traits often erupt when a person is overwhelmed with anxiety and/or feeling extremely out of control. This may happen at traumatic times, such as post 9/11 or it may happen at happy but stressful times, such as postpartum. OCD symptoms also occur with other disorders, such as bipolar depression.

It is difficult for people with OCD to understand the source of their anxieties. Frequently individuals are not diagnosed with OCD when the behavior begins. They often do not seek treatment since they feel it is good to be obsessive, in control, a perfectionist or a workaholic. Treatment is sought when the symptoms significantly interfere with functioning. Often they feel justified in their worries and do not realize that the true source of their fear is often unrelated to their obsession or compulsion.


Missing the Forest for the Trees
Do you know someone who includes every little detail? They describe the fauna, mushrooms and tall trees; but they are so focused on the details, that they miss the BIG picture. They do not realize that they are in a forest. Their anxiety blinds them.

Who is diagnosed with OCD?
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “OCD affects about 2.2 million American adults, and the problem can be accompanied by eating disorders,6 other anxiety disorders, or depression. It strikes men and women in roughly equal numbers and usually appears in childhood, adolescence, or early adulthood. One-third of adults with OCD develop symptoms as children, and research indicates that OCD might run in families.” National Institute of Mental Health/OCD

Jack Nicholson portrays an obsessive-compulsive person in “As Good As It Gets.” His character, Melvin, must sit at the same table in his favorite diner. He brings his own plastic fork and knife, just to be on the safe side. This comedy is a good example of obsessive-compulsive disorder!