Conquering Obsessive Compulsive Disorders

Conquering Obsessive Compulsive Disorders
Written By: Counselling Psychologist
M.Sc. Psychology - Swansea University, UK.
Reviewed By: Counselling Psychologist
MA Psychology Pennsylvania State University, USA
Last Updated: 31-03-2023

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We often hear people throw around the term "I am so OCD. What they do not realize is that they are simplifying an extremely complex, debilitating illness that is more than just a few rituals. And here if we believe in battle to conquer the enemy, we need to understand him first. So to speak of OCD in this light.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common mental health condition where a person has obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours. OCD can affect men, women, and children. Some people start having symptoms early, often around puberty, but it usually starts during early adulthood.
If you have OCD, you usually experience frequent obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours.

  • An obsession is an unwanted and unpleasant thought, image or urge that repeatedly enters your mind, causing feelings of anxiety, disgust or unease.
  • A compulsion is a repetitive behaviour or mental act that you feel you need to do to temporarily relieve the unpleasant feelings brought on by the obsessive thought.

  For example, someone with an obsessive fear of being burgled may feel they need to check all the windows and doors are locked several times before they can leave their house.
In the current scenario, the novel coronavirus is at the top of the mind of most people. The virus may be frightening to others, but for those with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), it presents a distinct threat. Individuals with OCD may be motivated to perform multiple compulsions to "protect" themselves and their families.

So, what's that person supposed to do? Ideally, you would like the OCD sufferer to follow general precautions like CDC hand-washing instructions, and local travel and social isolation limitations. But, for the person diagnosed with OCD, this is not easy. Imagine asking a person with a drinking problem to have only one drink and thinking how difficult that would be. This is because when a person with a compulsive hand wash begins to wash his hands, 20 seconds will never feel clean or right. The strong urge to continue washing will begin.

Besides, more and more doubtful thoughts will come into their minds. An example of a doubt that might have been thought, I don t think I cleaned up well enough under one of my fingernails. This doubt obsession will not stop in the head of the OCD people, and the obsession will become so strong that they will experience a strong desire to wash just once. The consequences of this may be harmful. Not only will they legitimize scary obsessions, but they may not be able to function in their daily lives.
OCD can be distressing and significantly interfere with your life, but treatment can help you keep it under control.

Observe and identify your triggers- The first step to managing your OCD symptoms is to recognize the triggers—the thoughts or situations—that bring on your obsessions and compulsions. Record a list of the triggers you experience each day and the obsessions they provoke. 

Exercise- Release compulsive energy into cardiovascular exercise. Try taking a speed walk around your neighbourhood. Weight lifting is another way to release anxious energy. Anything to resist doing the compulsions.

Challenge Obsessive Thoughts Write down your obsessive thoughts. Keep a pad and pencil on you, or type on a smartphone. When you begin to obsess, write down all your thoughts or compulsions.

  • Keep writing as the OCD urges continue, aiming to record exactly what you’re thinking, even if you are repeating the same phrases or the same urges over and over.
  • Writing it all down will help you see just how repetitive your obsessions are
  • Writing down the same phrase or urge hundreds of times will help it lose its power
  • Writing thoughts down is much harder work than simply thinking them, so your obsessive thoughts are likely to disappear sooner

 Get Help for OCD Thoughts If You Need It-  OCD can get worse if you feel weak and alone, so it s important to develop a good support network. The more connected you are to other people, the less likely you are to feel. And just talking to a caring person about your fears and desires will make them seem less threatening.

Stay close to your family and friends-  Obsessions and compulsions can consume your life to the point of social isolation. Social isolation, in effect, can worsen the symptoms of OCD. It is important to invest in family and friends. Speaking face-to-face about your fears and desires will make them feel less real and less threatening.

Remember that dealing with your symptoms is your responsibility alone- do not involve others in your therapy homework (unless your therapist tells you to) or expect them to push you or motivate you.  They won’t always be there when you need them, but YOU are always there for YOU.

Do not get too impatient with your progress, or compare yourself to anybody else, everyone goes at their own pace.  Instead, try to focus on carrying out each day’s therapy homework, one day at a time.

When you have a choice, always go toward the anxiety, never away from it- The only way to overcome fear is to face it. You cannot run away from your thoughts, so you have no choice but to face them. If you want to recover, you will have to do this.

Always remember that in OCD, the problem is not the anxiety — the problem is the compulsions.

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