Do I Have OCD?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Q. I think I have OCD. I think there’s something wrong with me, and I think it’s OCD. When I was in the 3rd grade, our family went to Costa Rica for a vacation, but my sister got deathly ill from bad drinking water and threw up a lot. For the remainder of the trip, the throwing up never bothered me but as soon as I got home, I realized I was having panic attacks and had an extreme fear of throwing up. It was so bad that I would refuse to eat anything because I thought if I became sick while I had food in my stomach, then I would throw up. But I always had a sick feeling in my stomach because of fear. My parents thought I was anorexic, but I knew it was something else. I was just too afraid to tell them my thoughts because they would think I’m crazy. I think then to deal with the fear then I made little rituals and rules for myself like, I couldn’t look at certain colors, and I was obsessed with looking at the number 5. these things helped with the fear, but I couldn’t get these thoughts out of my head as hard as I try. now that I’m 15, It’s really affecting my school because I can’t concentrate. And I don’t have any fear about throwing up anymore though, I have new fears about natural disasters and atomic bombs. My new fears are things that cant be controlled by me and it really scares me. I tried telling my parents, but they say that OCD is a physical disease which people check things a certain amount of times. so I’m not sure. But whatever it is is controlling my life! please help!!

A. I am glad that you wrote. While I cannot officially diagnose an individual over the Internet I believe that the symptoms you have described are characteristic of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). I have listed the specific symptoms below.

  • Cannot look at certain colors

  • Obsessed with the number five
  • Having obsessive thoughts to the point where they were negatively affecting your school work
  • Your new fears associated with natural disasters and atomic bombs

You may have a mild form of the disorder. The trigger for the illness may have originated in third grade when your sister became ill from drinking tainted water. That incident may have caused your problems.

Please keep in mind that I cannot know with certainty if you have OCD. It would be best to attend an in-person evaluation with a mental health professional. He or she could review your symptoms in more depth and then determine if you have OCD. Please speak to your parents about this. If you are able to get help soon then you may be able to stop the symptoms from progressing.

The next step for you is to speak to your parents again. Let them know about the letter you have written. You could also show them my response. The purpose of speaking to your parents is to let them know that treatment is warranted and that you may have OCD. It’s also important to inform your parents that OCD is a very treatable illness and that the sooner it is treated the better. OCD can be a progressive disorder; the longer that one avoids treatment the longer it may take to treat the disorder.

Many people are helped with psychotherapy and some utilize medication. Some use a combination of psychotherapy and medication. Cognitive behavioral therapy has been found to be very effective for OCD. For specific types of OCD, behavioral treatment or hypnosis is recommended.

I hope you’re able to speak to your parents and get the help you need. Keep in mind that you are doing a very brave thing by proactively trying to treat a possible illness. You may find that with treatment, you can be cured. Please consider writing back to let me know how you’re doing. Thank you for your question.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 7 Feb 2010

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2010). Do I Have OCD?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 25, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/02/07/do-i-have-ocd-2/

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