How’s it going, being “so OCD”? I bet you’re feeling all “cool” and “different”. I also bet you’re unaware of what it means yourself, despite claiming to be “so OCD”. To be clear, it’s the acronym for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder; a mental illness OCD is not just about having a clean room, or a tidy study table. It’s an anxiety disorder characterized by uncontrollable, unwanted thoughts, and ritualized, repetitive behaviours one feels compelled to perform
It’s normal, on occasion, to go back and double-check that the iron is unplugged or worry that you might be contaminated by germs, or even have an occasional unpleasant, violent thought. But if you suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors become so consuming they interfere with your daily life. OCD is an anxiety disorder characterized by uncontrollable, unwanted thoughts and ritualized, repetitive behaviors you feel compelled to perform. If you have OCD, you probably recognize that your obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors are irrational—but even so, you feel unable to resist them and break free.
Like a needle getting stuck on an old record, OCD causes the brain to get stuck on a particular thought or urge. For example, you may check the stove 20 times to make sure it’s really turned off because you’re terrified of burning down your house, or wash your hands until they’re scrubbed raw for fear of germs. While you don’t derive any sense of pleasure from performing these repetitive behaviors, they may offer some passing relief for the anxiety generated by the obsessive thoughts.
You may try to avoid situations that trigger or worsen your symptoms or self-medicate with alcohol or drugs. But while it can seem like there’s no escaping your obsessions and compulsions, there are plenty of things you can do to break free of unwanted thoughts and irrational urges and regain control of your thoughts and actions.
OCD obsessions and compulsions
Obsessions are involuntary thoughts, images, or impulses that occur over and over again in your mind. You don’t want to have these ideas, but you can’t stop them. Unfortunately, these obsessive thoughts are often disturbing and distracting.
Compulsions are behaviors or rituals that you feel driven to act out again and again. Usually, compulsions are performed in an attempt to make obsessions go away. For example, if you’re afraid of contamination, you might develop elaborate cleaning rituals. However, the relief never lasts. In fact, the obsessive thoughts usually come back stronger. And the compulsive rituals and behaviors often end up causing anxiety themselves as they become more demanding and time-consuming. This is the vicious cycle of OCD.
Most people with OCD fall into one of the following categories:
1. Washers are afraid of contamination. They usually have cleaning or hand-washing compulsions.
2. Checkers repeatedly check things (oven turned off, door locked, etc.) that they associate with harm or danger.
3. Doubters and sinners are afraid that if everything isn’t perfect or done just right something terrible will happen, or they will be punished.
4. Counters and arrangers are obsessed with order and symmetry. They may have superstitions about certain numbers, colors, or arrangements.
5. Hoarders fear that something bad will happen if they throw anything away. They compulsively hoard things that they don’t need or use. They may also suffer from other disorders, such as depression, PTSD, compulsive buying, kleptomania, ADHD, skin picking, or tic disorders
OCD signs and symptoms
Just because you have obsessive thoughts or perform compulsive behaviors does NOT mean that you have obsessive-compulsive disorder. With OCD, these thoughts and behaviors cause tremendous distress, take up a lot of time (at least one hour per day), and interfere with your daily life and relationships.
Most people with obsessive-compulsive disorder have both obsessions and compulsions, but some people experience just one or the other.
Common obsessive thoughts in OCD include:
1.Fear of being contaminated by germs or dirt or contaminating others
2. Fear of losing control and harming yourself or others
3. Intrusive sexually explicit or violent thoughts and images
4.Excessive focus on religious or moral ideas
5. Fear of losing or not having things you might need
6. Order and symmetry: the idea that everything must line up “just right”
7. Superstitions; excessive attention to something considered lucky or unlucky
8. Common compulsive behaviors in OCD include:
9. Excessive double-checking of things, such as locks, appliances, and switches
10. Repeatedly checking in on loved ones to make sure they’re safe
11. Counting, tapping, repeating certain words, or doing other senseless things to reduce anxiety
12. Spending a lot of time washing or cleaning
13. Ordering or arranging things “just so”
14. Praying excessively or engaging in rituals triggered by religious fear
15.Accumulating “junk” such as old newspapers or empty food containers
OCD self-help tip 1: 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. Rate the intensity of the fear or anxiety you experienced in each situation and then the compulsions or mental strategies you used to ease your anxiety. For example, if you have a fear of being contaminated by germs, touching a railing at the mall might generate a fear intensity of 3, whereas touching the restroom floor in the mall might generate a 10 and require 15 minutes of hand washing to ease your anxiety.
Keeping track of your triggers can help you anticipate your urges. And by anticipating your compulsive urges before they arise, you can help to ease them. For example, if your compulsive behavior involves checking that doors are locked, windows closed, or appliances turned off, try to lock the door or turn off the appliance with extra attention the first time.
Create a solid mental picture and then make a mental note. Tell yourself, “The window is now closed,” or “I can see that the oven is turned off.”
When the urge to check arises later, you will find it easier to re-label it as “just an obsessive thought.”
Identifying and recording your triggers also provides an important tool for learning to resist your OCD compulsions.
Tip 2: Learn to resist OCD compulsions
It might seem smart to avoid the situations that trigger your obsessive thoughts, but the more you avoid them, the scarier they feel. Conversely, by repeatedly exposing yourself to your OCD triggers, you can learn to resist the urge to complete your compulsive rituals. This is known as exposure and response prevention (ERP) and is a mainstay of professional therapy for OCD.
ERP requires you to repeatedly expose yourself to the source of your obsession—and then refrain from the compulsive behavior you’d usually perform to reduce your anxiety. If you are a compulsive hand washer, for example, that could mean touching the door handle in a public restroom and then not allowing yourself to wash your hands. As you sit with the anxiety, the urge to wash your hands will gradually begin to go away on its own. In this way, you’ll learn that you don’t need the ritual to get rid of your anxiety and that you have some control over your obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors.
Tackling your biggest fears straight off might be too extreme, so ERP exercises start with you confronting lesser fears and then working your way up the “fear ladder.” Confront those situations that generate a low fear intensity and once you’re able to tolerate the anxiety you can move on to the next, more difficult exposure challenge.
Building your fear ladder
Think about your end goal (to be able to use a public restroom without fear of contamination, for example, or to drive to work without stopping to check if you’ve hit something) and then break down the steps needed to reach that goal. Using the information you recorded in identifying your triggers, make a list of situations from the least scary to the most scary. The first step should make you slightly anxious, but not so frightened that you’re too intimidated to try it.
Tip 3: Challenge obsessive thoughts
Everyone has troubling thoughts or worries from time to time. But obsessive-compulsive disorder causes the brain to get stuck on a particular anxiety-provoking thought, causing it to play over and over in your head. The more unpleasant or distressing the thought, the more likely you are to try to repress it. But repressing thoughts is almost impossible and trying usually has the opposite effect, causing the unpleasant thought to resurface more frequently and become more bothersome.
As with resisting compulsions, you can overcome disturbing, obsessive thoughts by learning to tolerate them through exposure and response prevention exercises. It’s also important to remind yourself that just because you have an unpleasant thought, that doesn’t make you a bad person. Your thoughts are just thoughts. Even unwanted, intrusive, or violent thoughts are normal—it’s only the importance you attach to them that turns them into damaging obsessions.
The following strategies can help you see your thoughts for what they are and regain a sense of control over your anxious mind.
1. 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.
2. Keep writing as the OCD urges continue, aiming to record exactly what you’re thinking, even if you’re repeating the same phrases or the same urges over and over.
3. Writing it all down will help you see just how repetitive your obsessions are.
4. Writing down the same phrase or urge hundreds of times will help it lose its power.
5. Writing thoughts down is much harder work than simply thinking them, so your obsessive thoughts are likely to disappear sooner.
6.Create an OCD worry period. Rather than trying to suppress obsessions or compulsions, develop the habit of rescheduling them.
Tip 4: Reach out for support
OCD can get worse when you feel powerless and alone, so it’s important to build a strong support system. The more connected you are to other people, the less vulnerable you’ll feel. And just talking to an understanding person about your worries and urges can make them seem less threatening.
Treatment for OCD
1. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is the most effective treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder and generally involves two components:
2. Exposure and response prevention, which requires repeated exposure to the source of your obsession, as explained above.
3. Cognitive therapy, which focuses on the catastrophic thoughts and exaggerated sense of responsibility you feel. A big part of cognitive therapy for OCD is teaching you healthy and effective ways of responding to obsessive thoughts, without resorting to compulsive behavior.
4. Medication. Antidepressants are sometimes used in conjunction with therapy for the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder. However, medication alone is rarely effective in relieving the symptoms.
5. Family Therapy. Since OCD often causes problems in family life and social adjustment, family therapy can help promote understanding of the disorder and reduce family conflicts. It can also motivate family members and teach them how to help their loved one with OCD.
6. Group Therapy. Through interaction with fellow OCD sufferers, group therapy provides support and encouragement and decreases feelings of isolation.
Top 5 best selling books for people who will to get rid of OCD:
1.) Stop Obsessing! by Edna Foa and Reid Wilson
Regain control over your life. If you find yourself tormented by unwanted, disturbing thoughts or compelled to perform rigidly set action to reduce your stress, you may be one of the millions of Americans who suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). It may be as mild a doubting whether you turned off the iron before leaving the house, or it may be as severe and disabling as washing your hands for hours each day. But whatever its degree, OCD is distressing, uncomfortable, and can disrupt your life or destroy your most important relationships. Until recently, OCD was considered to be almost untreatable. Now it is known to be a highly treatable disorder using behavior therapy. Drs. Foa and Wilson, internationally known authorities on the treatment of anxiety disorders, have developed a revolutionary self-help program that can help relieve crippling obsessions and compulsions.
In Stop Obsessing! you will discover: A series of questionnaires to help you analyze the severity of your obsessions and compulsions. An initial self-help program to overcome milder symptoms and reduce more severe cases. The most effective way to help you let go of your obsessions and gain control over your compulsions. An intensive three-week program for anyone who spends more than two hours a day on obsessions or rituals. Expert guidance in determining whether you need the added help of a professional. Stop Obsessing!’s powerful and reliable techniques have helped thousands of patients with OCD reduce or eliminate unwanted thoughts and rituals
2.) Brain Lock by Jeffrey M. Schwartz
An estimated 5 million Americans suffer from obsessive- compulsive disorder (OCD) and live diminished lives in which they are compelled to obsess about something or to repeat a similar task over and over. Traditionally, OCD has been treated with Prozac or similar drugs. The problem with medication, aside from its cost, is that 30 percent of those treated don’t improve. And among those who do respond, when the pills stop, the symptoms invariably return.
In Brain Lock, Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz presents a simple four-step method for overcoming OCD that is so effective, it’s now used in academic treatment centers throughout the world. Proven by brain-imaging tests to actually alter the brain’s chemistry, this method doesn’t rely on psychopharmaceuticals. Instead, patients use cognitive self-therapy and behavior modification to develop new patterns of response to their obsessions. In essence, they use the mind to fix the brain. Using the real-life stories of actual patients, Brain Lock explains this revolutionary method and provides readers with the inspiration and tools to free themselves from their psychic prisons and regain control of their lives.
This book is a self-treatment program for obsessive-compulsive disorder that shares personal case stories and demonstrates how sufferers can apply a drug-free, brain metabolic behavioral therapy to their own lives. Through the real-life stories of actual patients, this book offers OCD sufferers a simple four-step program to overcome their disorder without the use of drugs
3.) Return to Innocence by Jeffrey M. Schwartz
In A Return to Innocence, psychiatrist and neuroscientist Jeffrey M. Schwartz–a Jewish student of both Buddhist meditation and Christian philosophy–combines 3,000 years of wisdom with cutting edge brain and behavioral research to guide us in recovering our souls, our safety, our integrity and our capacity to love. After a 35-year experiment in unbridled self-gratification that has left a burden of tremendous suffering in its wake, at last we are ready to understand that innocence–in its original meaning of “not harming”–is actually the highest and most difficult of human achievements. A practical path to this wellspring of inner purity was mapped out 2,500 years ago by Gotama Buddha–in Dr. Schwartz’s view the greatest psychologist who ever lived–whose still-fresh insights into human nature can serve as a bridge joining the wisdom of the Bible to the discoveries of 21st century science.
A deeply felt, thought-provoking exchange of letters between “spiritual coach” Dr. Schwartz and sixteen-year-old Patrick Buckley, the son of a single mother, frames this fascinating, powerful code for living that shows how the best in each of us can thrive. Spiritual and philosophical ideas become hands-on tools for dealing with real-life dilemmas as Dr. Schwartz addresses Patrick’s urgent questions about morality, responsibility, and freedom of choice.
This book offers an empowering combination of hope, inspiration, accurate information about the biology of human nature, as well as desperately-needed guidance for keeping that nature on a life-affirming path
4.) Tormenting Thoughts and Secret Rituals : The Hidden Epidemic of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder by Ian Osborn
Obsessive-compulsive disorder has been called the “hidden epidemic”: only a very few of the many people who have it reveal their condition. Ian Osborn is one of those who suffers from OCD, and his personal experience imbues this book with an exceptional clarity and understanding. Dr. Osborn discusses the various forms OCD takes and–using the most common focuses of obsession–presents detailed and dramatic cases whose objects are filth, harm, lust, and blasphemy. He explains how the disorder is currently diagnosed, and how it differs from addiction, worrying, and preoccupation. He summarizes the recent findings in the areas of brain biology, neuroimaging, and genetics that show OCD to be a distinct chemical disorder of the brain. He contrasts OCD with other “OCD spectrum disorders” such as anorexia nervosa and hair pulling, and he provides a historical overview that traces the development over the centuries of both behavior therapy and medications.
5.) Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone
Samantha McAllister looks just like the rest of the popular girls in her junior class. But hidden beneath the straightened hair and expertly applied makeup is a secret that her friends would never understand: Sam has Purely-Obsessional OCD and is consumed by a stream of dark thoughts and worries that she can’t turn off.
Second-guessing every move, thought, and word makes daily life a struggle, and it doesn’t help that her lifelong friends will turn toxic at the first sign of a wrong outfit, wrong lunch, or wrong crush. Yet Sam knows she’d be truly crazy to leave the protection of the most popular girls in school. So when Sam meets Caroline, she has to keep her new friend with a refreshing sense of humor and no style a secret, right up there with Sam’s weekly visits to her psychiatrist.
Caroline introduces Sam to Poet’s Corner, a hidden room and a tight-knit group of misfits who have been ignored by the school at large. Sam is drawn to them immediately, especially a guitar-playing guy with a talent for verse, and starts to discover a whole new side of herself. Slowly, she begins to feel more “normal” than she ever has as part of the popular crowd . . . until she finds a new reason to question her sanity and all she holds dear.