I’m Confused is it Anxiety or OCD


Anxiety can mean many different things to many different people. When handled in the correct way, a little bit of anxiety is usually helpful. It warns us to be careful if we sense danger. It can remind us of consequences we once had to live with. By maintaining some anxiety around these issues, we are able to avoid unwanted outcomes.

Obsessive compulsive disorder stems from a healthy type of anxiety and morphs into something all-consuming. OCD is a psychiatric disorder that involves repeated and unwanted intrusive thoughts, feelings, ideas, and behaviors that must be done over and over again.

While checking to make sure the stove has been turned off is an important task for safety, repeatedly checking it several times before any other task can be accomplished, is not.

People with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) also worry to extreme. They may become preoccupied with dread and a feeling of impending doom when thinking about the future. Unlike people with OCD, they do not typically engage in ritualistic behavior to deal with their fears.

Another difference between OCD and GAD lies in the worries themselves. GAD usually involves worries that are strongly based in real-life concerns.

While the worries may be extreme, the topics a person with generalized anxiety festers over, are appropriate. These topics concern issues such as: health, personal relationships, finances, work, etc.  

OCD worries can involve the prevention of something catastrophic from happening. For instance, a common popular concern from OCD patients includes chronic hand-washing.

Some people may feel they must wash their hands a certain number of times in order to prevent something from happening.  

Six Common Categories of Compulsions Include:

  • Contamination. A person may become preoccupied with body fluids, germs, or environmental contaminants.
  • Losing Control. Anxiety about harming oneself or others is a popular concern as well as violent images in one’s own mind or blurting out obscenities.
  • Unwanted Sexual Thoughts. Forbidden sexual thoughts or impulses may become intrusive.  
  • Religious Obsessions. Offending God or excessive concern about right vs. wrong can also be obsessive.
  • Harm. Harm thoughts include the fear of being responsible for something terrible happening such as, a fire or burglary.
  • Perfectionism. This can manifest in the concern of exactness or the fear of losing something.
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