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Identifying Obsessive Behaviors

When you think about obsessive behaviors, you might imagine someone constantly washing their hands or checking to make sure the door is locked. However, obsessive behaviors can take many forms and are often linked to underlying anxiety or fear. From hoarding to perfectionism, there are a variety of behaviors that fall under the category of obsession. While some of these behaviors may seem harmless or even helpful, when they become excessive or disruptive to daily life, they may be signs of an underlying issue that requires attention, like obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Columbia Associates offers OCD treatment services in our locations across Maryland and Virginia. Call 703.682.8208 today if you’re struggling with obsessive behaviors and are ready to take the first step toward finding relief.

What Are Obsessive Behaviors?

Obsessive behaviors are recurring actions or thoughts that a person feels compelled to do, even if they don’t want to. These can manifest as physical actions, such as repeatedly checking something, or mental activities, like constantly worrying about something. The key distinction between an obsessive behavior and a normal habit is the level of distress it causes in the individual. While everyone has habits and routines, obsessive behaviors can significantly disrupt daily life and cause significant distress.

Identifying whether a behavior is an obsession or a normal habit can be tricky, especially if the behavior seems to serve a purpose. For example, someone with obsessive-compulsive disorder may feel the need to check their stove multiple times before leaving the house because they fear it will cause a fire. While this may seem like a reasonable precaution, it becomes an obsessive behavior when it’s done excessively and causes distress if not completed.

Types of Obsessive Behaviors

Common examples of obsessive behaviors include:

  • Compulsive cleaning or organizing
  • Constant checking or reassurance-seeking
  • Hoarding possessions or items
  • Perfectionism and fear of making mistakes
  • Need for symmetry or orderliness
  • Excessive counting or arranging objects in a specific way
  • Persistent doubts or fears about safety or harm to others

While these behaviors may seem harmless on the surface, they can be time-consuming, exhausting, and interfere with daily responsibilities and relationships. In some cases, obsessive behaviors can cause physical pain, such as through excessive hand-washing or skin-picking.

Identifying the Underlying Issues Behind Obsessive Behaviors

While everyone may experience some obsessive behaviors from time to time, they can become problematic when they are linked to an underlying mental health issue. In many cases, obsessive behaviors are a coping mechanism for dealing with anxiety or other feelings of distress. For example, someone with OCD may engage in repetitive cleaning rituals to ease their fear of germs. Similarly, compulsive hoarding may be a way of avoiding feelings of loss or letting go.

How Treatment Can Help

The good news is that obsessive behaviors can be effectively treated through therapy and medication. At Columbia Associates, we’re experienced in working with clients struggling with OCD and other related disorders.

A few of the approaches we may use include:

  • Talk therapy – Our therapists help clients identify triggers and develop coping strategies to manage their behaviors.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) – This approach focuses on modifying thought patterns and behaviors related to the obsessive behavior.
  • Exposure and response prevention (ERP) – In this type of therapy, clients gradually face the anxiety or fear associated with their obsessive behavior while learning healthy ways to cope.
  • Medication – In some cases, medication may be prescribed to help manage symptoms and support therapy.

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to treating obsessive behaviors, and your care team will work with you to create a personalized treatment plan that meets your specific needs.

Contact Columbia Associates Today

If obsessive behaviors are holding you back, we’re here to help. Our locations in the greater D.C. provide personalized mental health treatment to help you find relief from obsessive thoughts and other symptoms of OCD.

For new clients, please click here to schedule an appointment. For existing clients, please click here and find your office location to contact your office directly.