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obsessive-compulsive disorder woman

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: How Women Experience OCD

Friday, October 8, 2021

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a mental health issue characterized by intrusive thoughts that cause irrational or uncontrollable behaviors. Research indicates that worldwide, women are more likely to struggle with OCD than men. As we prepare to observe International OCD Awareness Week Oct. 10-16, here’s what you should know about this disorder, its warning signs and its unique effects on women.

Understanding OCD 

As this disorder’s full name suggests, the hallmarks of OCD are ongoing obsessions and compulsions. Often, these repetitive thoughts and behaviors persist despite being irrational or having qualities of magical thinking. For example, you may logically know that flipping a light switch on and off a certain number of times before you go to bed will not realistically prevent your home from catching fire overnight, but your OCD forces you to do it anyway.

People with obsessive-compulsive disorder repeat these rituals in the hope that their obsessive thoughts will stop. However, these behaviors only provide temporary relief, which traps people into an ongoing cycle of having upsetting or disturbing thoughts and taking steps to try controlling them.

Researchers have yet to pinpoint a specific cause of OCD. However, as with other mental health disorders, environment and genetics may play a role. If you have a family history of mental health challenges, you may be at higher risk for developing OCD. Some women may also be more susceptible to developing obsessive-compulsive disorder during pregnancy or after giving birth, especially if you have had symptoms of OCD or other disorders in the past.

What Makes OCD Different From Everyday Worries?

While various stressors and concerns are part of daily life for most people, compulsive routines become a coping mechanism for women with OCD. One way to tell the difference between OCD and your everyday worries is to ask yourself whether you’ve ever sincerely believed your actions can prevent a specific negative consequence, or if you become agitated when you cannot perform your habitual behaviors.

Your doctor may diagnose you with obsessive-compulsive disorder if your preoccupations have begun to interfere with your relationships or obligations at home or work. For instance, if you become obsessed with the idea of keeping your family healthy, you might spend hours each day cleaning and disinfecting your home to prevent germs and contamination, ignoring other responsibilities.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Treatment Strategies

OCD often co-occurs with other mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders or substance abuse. When this happens, effective treatment options are essential to help women with a dual diagnosis learn to manage their symptoms and go on to live healthy, fulfilling lives.

If you suspect you have obsessive-compulsive disorder or another mental health condition, your first step is to reach out to a therapist who specializes in evidence-based treatments. Techniques such as cognitive behavioral therapy can teach you how to change negative thought patterns into positive ones. A counselor can also equip you with healthy coping skills to manage your fears more rationally.

Women’s-Only Treatment in Arizona

If you are grappling with your mental health, you deserve to be in a treatment environment that puts your unique needs first and understands you deserve a personalized approach to recovery. To learn more about our extended-care programming for women, contact us at Canyon Crossing today.

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