Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in Women

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health concern that can have a debilitating effect on a sufferer’s everyday life. OCD can interfere with work, relationships, personal life and create an unwanted and unhealthy cycle of stress. OCD is experienced by both men and women at about the same rate, although there are some differences in the symptoms that are presented. A women’s rehab center can tailor treatment to the unique needs of women and provide a safe space free of stigma.

Breaking Down OCD

As the name implies, there are two components to OCD: obsessions and compulsions.

  • Obsessions are thoughts that won’t go away, even when an individual tries to think about something else. Obsessions can cause great anxiety, and often take a similar form among patients, including obsessions about germs or health, “impure” thoughts or thoughts about harming others.
  • Compulsions are behaviors that are repeated and that occur in response to the obsessions. The urge to perform these actions is difficult to shake off, resulting in their relentless repetition. Examples may include excessive handwashing or cleaning, ordering things in a neat or symmetrical fashion, counting things compulsively, or repeatedly checking things like locks, lights, faucets, stove dials, etc.

Other factors, particularly stress and anxiety, can make OCD symptoms worse. OCD is seen as an ineffective coping mechanism for some deeper issue.

Gender Differences in OCD

Although OCD is prevalent in both men and women, women are more likely to have obsessions related to cleanliness or germs, and thus are more likely to display compulsions in handwashing or excessive cleanliness. A comorbidity with eating disorders or impulse control disorders is also more common among women with OCD than among men. Men, on the other hand, are more likely to have aggressive, sexual or religious-based obsessions and to experience a comorbidity with substance use.

OCD Treatment

OCD is considered chronic and thus may never go away completely, or may return at a later time. It is typically treated through cognitive behavioral therapy, in which patients learn to recognize obsessive thought patterns and take steps to reduce their impact or change them altogether. Medication may be used in conjunction with therapy in order to take the edge off of one’s anxiety. Addressing any comorbidity issues is very important for successful recovery. A women’s rehab center that focuses on dual diagnosis or comorbidity may be the most effective treatment plan for women with eating disorders or substance use disorders. For more information on what to expect at a women’s rehab center, contact us for a confidential consultation. Sources:  

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