Thomas Ramey Watson

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and the Nature of Anxiety

Everyone has his or her own way of doing things. Sometimes, we’re even pretty insistent about them being done a certain way. A little anxiety is normal — even a lot of anxiety is normal.

But normal anxiety is not debilitating. And having to do things in just the right way for fear of something bad happening isn’t an average quirk or being particular, it’s anxiety that needs to be managed.

“When I hear somebody feels anxiety, I don’t immediately say, that’s a condition. In order [for it] to be a condition, I have to hear evidence that there is some sort of significant disability associated with it,” says Charles Goodstein, MD, a clinical professor of psychiatry at New York University Langone Medical Center.

Dr. Goodstein notes that while there are a number of different anxiety disorders, including OCD, there often aren’ t clear-cut lines between them. “They represent not different conditions, but variants on a certain condition often found in conjunction with each other. The basis of all of them is, in effect, an inability for whatever reason to cope with what, in fact, is part of being a human being — anxiety,” says Goodstein.


If you have OCD, it can affect work, relationships, and your entire life as the obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors begin controlling you and taking over. You may recognize that your thoughts and behavior are extreme, but just don’t know how to stop it, and are controlled by your anxiety. But OCD can be successfully managed once you seek out and receive treatment for it.

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