OCD is a form of anxiety disorder that features reoccurring thoughts and behaviors (compulsions). These repetitive thoughts can cause significant distress in daily activities. While you can try to ignore the obsessions, it only increases anxiety and distress. And despite your efforts to get rid of these the bothersome thoughts, they keep coming back.

People with OCD do things in a particular pattern, so it’s not easy to resist the habitual behaviors. It’s common for such people to experience intense emotions. However, when they perform the ritualistic behaviors they can find some short-term relief.

When obsessive-compulsive behavior is in its severe form, it can be difficult for an individual to perform daily activities that increase the quality of life. Other mental issues that accompany OCD include depression or having an eating disorder. In some cases, this can lead to substance abuse.

OCD symptoms

Sometimes, you may not realize that your compulsions or obsessions are excessive or unreasonable. If you’re not careful, they may interfere with your daily activities at school or in the workplace. People with this condition experience a couple of challenges. Keep in mind that the severity of symptoms may change over time.

Obsession symptoms

Obsessions refer to persistent or repeated thoughts that cause distress or anxiety. They include:

  • Fear of getting contamination from germs/dirt
  • Keeping things in a symmetrical or an orderly manner
  • Unwanted thoughts on sexual subjects
  • Being aggressive towards others

Compulsion symptoms

Compulsions refer to those behaviors that you feel driven into. They are meant to reduce anxiety to prevent something bad from happening. However, engaging in these temporary compulsions only gives temporary relief. At times, they can be excessive and may not be related to what you want to fix. But just like obsessions, compulsions can have themes. The common symptoms for compulsions include:

  • Checking the door several times to ensure its locked
  • Silently repeating a phrase or prayer
  • Arranging your kitchen items to face a certain way
  • Counting specific patterns
  • Washing your hands repeatedly until they become raw

While OCD can begin in the teen or adult years, it can start from childhood. Generally, the severity of symptoms can vary throughout y life. While the type of obsession or compulsion may change with time, they could worsen when you experience stress. If the symptoms become severe, this may be considered a lifetime disorder.

Common behaviors of people with OCD disorder

Counting/fixing

Have you ever seen people who like to arrange things in a specific order or color? Well, this is common for people with OCD. If things are not in a specific way, this can create worry or emotional distress. In fact, not having things in a certain numerical order can create panic attacks. Doing things in a specific way is not only time-consuming but may take a great deal of effort. It’s worth mentioning that the amount of time it takes to arrange things a certain way doesn’t matter.

Rechecking things frequently

A person with OCD will keep checking whether the door is closed properly. Most individuals leave home only to go back to check whether everything is okay. This, in turn, can lead to missed appointments, being late for work, or disrupting the normal routine.

Washing hands frequently

If you fear dirt or getting germs, you may find yourself washing your hands frequently. This behavior is deemed severe if you do this several times a day. Sometimes, it can cause bleeding or skin irritation.

Fear of losing items

People with OCD are afraid to lose items they believe they must have. This can wreak havoc to other family members not to mention the items can occupy the valuable living space. In severe cases, hoarding can make it difficult to clean a home and may contribute to the spread of germs.

Having negative thoughts/doubts

A person with OCD may have recurring thoughts of violence. If you don’t take strict measures, you may feel emotional turmoil.

OCD therapy overview

Many treatments can help you deal with OCD. While self-care will tremendously reduce the symptoms, you can improve the quality of life when you work with a professional. Make sure a therapist has the necessary training and can actively diagnose the problem. The main treatment options can include:

Prescription drugs

The most effective way to treat OCD is through the use of prescription drugs. A specialist will recommend an individualized plan – the right medication and dosage. In some cases, it can take time before the medication begins to work and realize the benefits. Depending on the medication you use, it can take up to 8 weeks to see full results.

Other treatment options

Cognitive-behavioral therapy

This technique strives to changes a person’s thoughts or behavior. Cognitive-behavioral therapy identifies those thoughts that lead to a feeling of anxiety. A therapist will encourage you to engage in exposure exercises during the sessions. This is because the real objective of CBT is to expose you to the real world. If you want to obtain the best results, you should work closely with a professional.

Exposure therapy

This type of therapy allows a person to confront their environment and feel that it’s safe. When you engage in exposure therapy, you may become desensitized to specific situations that can trigger anxiety. And this should be done at your pace- a therapist should never force you to do things in a certain way.

To start with, you’ll come with a list of all your fears. For instance, if you have an obsessive fear of germs, a therapist will ask you to face what you’re afraid of. He will then design a program that allows you to face that fear. Let’s say you’re afraid to touch a public doorknob. A therapist may ask you to wait for long before you wash the hands. As you repeat this exposure task, you can control the fear of germs.

Some OCD specialists may recommend a combination of exposure therapy (EP) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to achieve the desired results. Still, this requires a considerable amount of effort, guidance, and motivation.

Self-help strategies

There’re many ways you can deal with OCD challenges. Experts recommend that you get a goodnight’s sleep to combat OCD. Another effective way to deal with the disorder is by taking a deep breath. It helps you to remain focused and tracks the negative thoughts. Finally, you can join a support group and communicate with other people facing the same challenges.

If you’re suffering from OCD, you can get professional help. Just search the TribeTherapy directory and you’ll find a specialist with the right training and expertise.