How Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is Diagnosed

Most people have a basic understanding of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). But, you might not recognize the signs or symptoms enough to determine if you or someone you care about actually has the disorder. 

Unfortunately, that lack of information or understanding could be what’s keeping you from getting the official diagnosis and help you need. 

When untreated, OCD can feel like it’s taking over your life. You might have a hard time getting through the day or hanging onto relationships because of the disorder. 

Sound familiar? Let’s take a closer look at how Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is diagnosed. We’ll also look at what you should do if you have symptoms of the disorder.

There’s No OCD Test

There’s no official medical test you can take to determine whether you have OCD. That’s why a trained professional who understands the complex presentations of OCD and the behaviors associated with the condition must make an official diagnosis.

When you work with a doctor or therapist, they’ll need to know a bit about your history and the symptoms you’ve been experiencing. It’s their job to determine if you’re dealing with obsessions and compulsions. They’ll also look at whether those obsessions and compulsions are interfering with your overall quality of life. 

Do your obsessions get in the way of your relationships? Do they impact your job or school career? Or do they even go against your core values? What are some of the themes related to your OCD? OCD always has a theme and a core fear associated with the root cause. These are important things to tell a professional so they can make the right diagnosis.

Is OCD Hard to Diagnose?

It’s difficult to diagnose any condition without an official test to provide results. Unfortunately, the reason OCD is so often underdiagnosed is that there can often be a lack of symptom recognition by doctors and therapists. 

Unfortunately, many of the symptoms associated with OCD are also prevalent in other mental health conditions, including autism spectrum, ADHD, anxiety, and depression. If you’ve been diagnosed with one of those conditions in the past, but treatments don’t seem to be working, you may have been misdiagnosed. However, it’s important to note that it’s completely possible to have OCD and another mental health disorder at the same time.

Furthermore, people struggling with the disorder might try to “hide” it for years before they’re finally ready to reach out for help due to the shame often associated with the obsessions and compulsions of OCD. OCD isn’t really something you generally want to shout about from the rooftops. It can cause people to feel embarrassed and guilty. So, you might not reach out for help as quickly as you should. 

What Can You Do?

The best thing you can do for yourself is to understand some of the most common symptoms of OCD. While they can be different for everyone, they often include a fear of dirt or contamination, the need for things to be orderly, and dealing with aggressive thoughts about losing control and causing harm to others. 

OCD is based on obsessive ideas and the compulsive behaviors associated with those thoughts. If you feel like you can’t control those behaviors and it’s impeding your way of life, it’s worth it to get checked out by a professional. 

That’s the other important part of the equation. Make sure you’re reaching out to a reputable health professional you can trust. At Spectrum Connections Therapy, I use some gold-standard questionnaires, assessments, and an interview to identify whether or not to diagnose OCD. Some things to look for are obsessions and compulsions causing a great deal of distress and taking up a lot of time in the day that results in an interference in daily functioning. However, talking to someone who understands the signs and symptoms of OCD won’t just make it easier to get a diagnosis. It will also make it easier to get the help you deserve. 

No matter how long you’ve been struggling with the effects of OCD without a diagnosis, it’s never too late to get one. Please contact me today for more information or to set up an appointment. OCD can be manageable with the right treatment, but the first step is receiving a diagnosis that will offer you peace of mind and allow you to identify the next steps towards getting unstuck from your OCD loops and moving forward.

Be well,

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