Obsessive compulsive personality disorder (OCD) is a distressing anxiety disorder where thoughts and obsessions can literally take over a person’s life. Most of us can be a little obsessive at times: we might go back and check whether we locked our car after leaving it in town, or we might arrive at work and suddenly have a panic attack that we left the iron plugged in. These types of thoughts are perfectly normal, but for some people they can escalate to a level where they begin to interfere in normal life. So what are the obsessive compulsive personality disorder symptoms and what causes them?
People with obsessive compulsive personality disorder experience a range of different symptoms, but the illness is normally characterized by obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors. Over time, the thoughts and behavior patterns escalate out of control and even though the patient might be aware of how irrational such thoughts and behaviors are, they cannot break free from their OCD prison.
What are the obsessive compulsive personality disorder symptoms?
The symptoms of obsessive compulsive personality disorder usually fall into two categories: obsessions and compulsions. Most patients suffer from obsessions AND compulsions, but occasionally a patient will only show the signs of one or the other.
Obsessions take the form of uncontrollable thoughts or ideas. They are often related to things the patient does not want to think about, and over time such unwelcome thoughts become extremely disturbing and distracting. Typical obsessive thoughts experienced by patients with obsessive compulsive personality disorder include a fear of something bad happening to a loved one, inappropriate sexual thoughts or violent images, obsessions relating to a fear of contamination, dirt and germs, and an intense preoccupation with religion or morality.
Compulsions are rituals and behaviors a patient feels compelled to repeat time and time again. Compulsions are often related to obsessions in some way and the compulsive behavior is usually performed in an attempt to find relief from the torment of the obsessive thoughts. For example, a patient obsessed with a fear of germs and contamination might develop compulsive hand washing tendencies or a cleaning obsession. Other examples of compulsive behavior patterns include hoarding objects, obsessions with order and symmetry, and the repeated checking of things.
How is obsessive compulsive personality disorder treated?
Obsessive compulsive personality disorder can usually be treated very effectively and there are many different types of therapy available. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a common avenue of treatment for patients suffering from obsessive personality disorder.
Exposure and response prevention therapy involves repeated exposure to the source of the anxiety, without allowing the patient to perform the compulsive behavior they would normally use to seek relief. In time, such therapies can the patient to regain control over their obsessive thoughts. Other cognitive therapies help the patient to find different ways of dealing with their anxieties and group therapy in particular is known to be particularly helpful in treating obsessive compulsive disorder. Medication is also used on conjunction with behavior therapy, but it tends to be ineffective on its own.