To a certain extent, everyone exhibits compulsive behavior. For instance, you may double check that your alarm system is turned on or your garage door closed when you leave your house. These types of cautionary behaviors are normal and provide the peace of mind you need to continue with your day and know that your home is secure.
However, compulsive behavior can also manifest in obsessive, unhealthy ways. Someone exhibiting compulsive behavior focuses on a repeated, ritualized action that has no real outcome or goal. If the ritual isn’t performed, the person will likely be unable to function or continue with their daily activities. For instance, a person struggling with compulsive behavior may have to check the alarm system five, six, or seven times before they are able to go to work.
When to Seek Professional Treatment for Compulsive Behavior
It’s not always easy to know when the natural compulsions that all of us exhibit cross over into a clinical disorder such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) that requires treatment. Compulsive behavior can also take many different forms. Examples include:
- Fear of harm – obsessive fear of injury or illness; this may manifest as compulsively researching or trying to detect symptoms of an illness or constantly trying to avoid harm by checking door locks, alarm systems, ovens, etc.
- Fear of contamination – extreme fear of becoming ill due to germs and other contaminants; one of the most common manifestations is obsessive hand washing, but can also take the form of constant cleaning and disinfecting bathrooms, kitchens, or workstations
- Hoarding – obsessively keeping old, unused, or unneeded household objects and allowing extreme clutter to accumulate as a “barrier” against the dangers perceived in the world
- Perfectionism – the need to repeat a task multiple times until it is performed “correctly”; an example could be rewriting the same grocery list multiple times, re-making a bed, or counting the steps required to get from point A to point B
If you or a loved one are experiencing compulsions or obsessions that are reducing the quality of life, hurting relationships, or interfering with your ability to do your job, it’s time to seek a professional diagnosis and treatment. Compulsive behavior can also be accompanied by other mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, or suicidal thoughts.
Compulsive Behavior Therapy in the Dallas-Fort Worth Area
If compulsive behavior is preventing you from leading a happy, fulfilling life, Texas Health and Counseling Group can help. Our experienced team of physicians and psychologists can help you get to the source of your behavior in a caring, compassionate environment. Contact us today to make an appointment at one of our counseling clinics in McKinney, Richardson, Arlington, Frisco, or Hurst.