I have been diagnosed as having bipolar disorder, yet I have symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder. I was wondering if I have OCD since I have obsessive thoughts, avoid situations which would produce triggers, perform compulsions, and be anxious. It is hard to deal with the anxiety at times but it is even harder to deal with avoidance. I cannot watch a movie or tv show, read a book, or listen to the radio without wondering if some content will trigger a thought. It is frustrating and it has been ongoing for years now. I am seeing a therapist for this and I am taking medication. How do I deal with and overcome avoidance? Do I have the symptoms of OCD despite the fact that I have been diagnosed as bipolar with schizoid personality disorder.

A: Your therapist is the one who can help identify the symptoms with regard to diagnosis. If you are concerned about the accuracy you could always get a battery of psychological tests done by a qualified psychologist. But more importantly it may be good to find some healthy outlets for some of the behaviors. In other words, ‘obsessive’ traits are not always a bad thing. Surgeons, airline pilots, artists, builders, writers, and others who are quite good at what they do may have traits deemed obsessive, but they are helpful characteristics, not harmful. It may be something you could explore with your therapist.

Why not take the signature strength survey for free and see what your top strengths are? Then put some of your energy toward using them more often. This may be helpful.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral