Published on March 13th 2024

Navigating Life with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

#Mindfulness

#Wellness

#OCD

#Mental health

#Self-Care

Written by

Navigating Life with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Nidhi

Writer

Navigating Life with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Table of Contents

1

. What is life like when you have OCD?

2

. What can help with OCD?

2.1

. How does ERP do this?

Do you find yourself facing repetitive thoughts and behaviors? Struggling with habits that lead to you wasting most of your time thinking about them or performing some repetitive rituals like washing your hands, checking your phone constantly, or rearranging objects?

If this is you, you might have a condition called obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD.

OCD is defined as a disorder characterized by the presence of persistent and recurrent irrational thoughts (obsessions), resulting in marked anxiety and repetitive excessive behaviors (compulsions) as a way to try to decrease that anxiety. As the name indicates, obsession and compulsion are the two main components of this disorder.

This pattern of obsession, and feeding that obsession with compulsive behavior, can be extremely disruptive to living a normal, peaceful life.

What is life like when you have OCD?

Let us get a better picture of what life feels like for someone who has OCD by examining the symptoms that manifest from this condition:

Navigating Life with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Fear of germs and contamination is one of the most common symptoms of OCD. It is often characterized by the need to wash hands or sanitize our surroundings constantly.

Fear of germs or contamination Other symptoms could be:

  1. Fear of forgetting, losing, or misplacing something.
  2. Fear of losing control over one’s behavior.
  3. Aggressive thoughts toward others or oneself.
  4. Unwanted, forbidden, or taboo thoughts involving sex, religion, or harm.
  5. Desire to have things symmetrical or in perfect order.
  6. Washing hands excessively is also a common symptom of OCD.
  • When battling OCD therapy, another uncomfortable aspect we might have to deal with is intrusive thoughts that are taboo to your personal beliefs.
  • The feeling of having forgotten something important or having lost or misplaced something valuable is another obsessive thought process faced with OCD. Like the fear of forgetting your laptop at an important meeting or accidentally deleting unsaved work.

OCD can also be characterized by the need to have everything around you in symmetry or in a particular area. This can be a person’s need to constantly organize everything around them and be very particular about the placement of objects around them, such as furniture.

Symptoms of OCD also include thoughts or impulses of aggression towards ourselves or the people around us. These feelings are often intense and can sometimes arise out of the blue, even without an external stressor.

OCD symptoms disrupt the normal course of our lives. They are usually so consuming that all of our energy and time are exhausted from dealing with them. Having negative thoughts about others or feelings of aggression can make social relationships and settings hard to face.

We can sum up OCD as a mental illness that results in the compulsion to obsess over unfounded fears and pessimistic thoughts.

The effect of OCD on mental health is a cause for concern. mental conditions such as anxiety, state of distress, and stress arising from the root condition, which is OCD in this case.

If left untreated and undiagnosed, the symptoms and impact of OCD can wreak havoc on our day-to-day activities and the normal course of our lives. This makes it important to keep this problem in check and find suitable methods to help you deal with it.

What can help with OCD?

Let us look at some common OCD treatments:

  • Medication for OCD: Medication is one of the forms of therapy for OCD. Most commonly for OCD, antidepressants are used to help. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has approved a number of common antidepressants for OCD use.
  1. Fluoxetine (Prozac) for adults and children 7 years and older.
  2. Fluvoxamine (Luvox) for adults and children 8 years and older.
  3. Paroxetine (Paxil) for adults only.
  4. Sertraline (Zoloft) for adults and children 6 years and older.
  5. Clomipramine (Anafranil) is for adults and children 10 years of age and older.

However, psychiatrists may recommend other medications as well.medicines- which are sometimes the mainstay of treatment. Only qualified mental health professionals are able to administer these.

The cognitive behavioral therapy method that is used to help with OCD is exposure and response prevention (ERP).

How does ERP do this?

1.Exposure: Regular exposure to confronting things that cause you distress, which can also be referred to as habituation.

2.Response prevention: Rituals to reduce stress often hinder our activities. Under ERP, along with exposure, we also practice stopping the rituals and instead trying response prevention to cope effectively. For example, the way to overcome this fear using ERP would be for them to touch the doorknob.

A common technique you may have heard of is the ‘rubber band’ technique. Here, the patient undergoing treatment wears a rubber band on their wrist and is instructed to snap the band against their wrist every time they have an obsessive thought or feel the compulsion to engage in a ritual.

This is basically a way of conditioning your brain to expect a negative consequence from a negative thought, which would help avert these obsessive thoughts.

  • Flooding : Flooding is a famous form of exposure therapy that may be used to treat OCD. It encompasses exposure to fears and triggers in a controlled environment. The treatment is called ‘flooding’ because it involves ‘flooding’ the patient with anxiety-causing fears and triggers.

Through controlled exposure, this technique primarily aims to lessen the anxiety response that these triggers and fears cause.

It is also necessary that a professional assess our condition and then decide the preferred method of therapy based on the particulars of our OCD condition.

  • There are also steps that we can take personally to improve the condition, for example:
  1. Meditation
  2. Self care
  3. Self-trust-building exercises
  4. Mindfulness
  5. Improving coping skills

Dealing with OCD is no simple task. It is a time-consuming process that requires working on ourselves very closely and constantly checking in on progress. However, on the bright side, it is not anything we can’t handle if we are really determined to defeat it!

Remember that help is always available when you need it. OCD help can be controlled and coped with effectively with the guidance of a mental health professional.

Begin your journey to better mental health!

Dr. Sangeeta Hatila Cropped.jpg

Reviewed by Dr. Sangeeta Hatila

Neuro Psychiatrist 

Share

Instagram

LinkedIn

Twitter

Pinterest

Facebook

Youtube