Is it OCD, OCPD, or What?
Grace is obsessed about order and having things “just so.” She is constantly checking for symmetry in her surroundings. The time she spends ordering and organizing her things is disrupting her life. She spends excessive time on details and often gets stuck while doing or undoing things until she feels “right” about the situation. This causes her a great deal of distress. Her motivation in doing her rituals is to decrease anxiety and uncertainty about her feared consequence (having a panic attack). Does Grace have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)?
Patrick needs things to be perfect and orderly. He is a perfectionist and is preoccupied with details and making lists. His perfectionism gets in the way of completing the tasks at hand. He puts his job ahead of his family and friends. He likes to be in control and doesn’t like to delegate because he believes he can do a better job than anyone else. His friends and relatives believe he is overly judgmental and rigid. They also think he is stingy with his money. He thinks all his friends are wrong. Does Patrick have OCD or obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD)?
Lisa likes certain things to be in a peculiar way. For example, she likes to color-coordinate her closet. She likes her bedsheets a certain way and every time she finds the toilet paper going the “wrong” way in her bathroom, she fixes it to the “right” way. She gets annoyed when she is not able to have things “right” but is able to move on with her day without major emotional distress. Her friends tease her and ask, “Why are you so OCD?” Does she have OCD, OCPD, or what?
It may be difficult to distinguish the difference between these three cases based on the brief descriptions, but there are significant differences. Many individuals make light of OCD by mistakenly saying they are “so OCD.” Awareness and information about what constitutes the diagnosis for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) needs to be increased and below are some clarifications.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
OCD is a genetic predisposition, a neurological and behavioral challenge. It can be triggered by a stressful or traumatic experience. The Y-BOCS (Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale) is the scale that measures the severity of OCD. Some people may have a mild case of OCD while others may have severe OCD.
The best way to differentiate OCD from OCPD is the cycle that sufferers experience. For instance, Grace suffers from OCD that targets her need to have order and symmetry rituals. She is constantly noticing things out of place (trigger). She begins obsessing and is unable to focus on other tasks unless she fixes (compulsion) what is out of place. She needs her environment to look perfect. If she is not able to do her compulsions, she fears her anxiety will mount. Once she’s taken the time to “fix” things, she feels relief — until the next trigger appears.
OCD can get in the way of individuals’ proper functioning in all areas of their lives. When individuals have OCD and don’t receive appropriate treatment, their symptoms most likely will increase and become debilitating.