Cope with OCD in 5 Simple Steps
Cope with OCD: Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, or OCD, is a mental health condition that can cause significant distress and disruption in daily life. However, it is possible to manage OCD with treatment and self-help strategies. Here are five tips for coping with OCD:
1. Understand your OCD. Learning about the condition can help you to feel more in control and less overwhelmed. It can also be helpful to keep a journal to track your thoughts and compulsions.
2. Develop a support network. connecting with others who understand what you’re going through can be enormously helpful. Support groups provide an opportunity to share experiences and learn from others who are dealing with OCD.
3. Create structure and routine. Having set times for activities such as showers, teeth brushing, and checking door locks can help to ease anxiety and offer a sense of control.
4. Practice self-care. Taking care of yourself physically and emotionally is essential for managing any chronic condition. Eating well, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly can help to reduce stress and improve overall health.
5. Seek professional help. Many people find that medication and/or cognitive-behavioral therapy are essential for managing OCD symptoms effectively. A mental health professional can work with you to develop a treatment plan that meets your needs.
OCD is often portrayed in the media as a quirky or humorous disorder, it is actually a serious condition that can cause a great deal of distress. If you live with OCD, you may feel like you are stuck in a never-ending cycle of obsessions and compulsions. But there is hope. With proper treatment, most people with OCD can live full, productive lives.
Obsessions are recurrent, persistent ideas, thoughts, impulses, or images that are intrusive and cause anxiety or distress. Common obsessions include fear of contamination by germs or dirt, fear of losing control and harming oneself or others, excessively worrying about making mistakes, needing everything to be symmetrical or in perfect order, and disturbing sexual or religious thoughts.
Compulsions are repetitive behaviors or mental acts that you feel driven to perform in order to reduce the anxiety caused by your obsessions. Common compulsions include washing and cleaning; checking things; counting; ordering and arranging; touching, and repeating words in your head.
Not everyone who experiences these symptoms will have OCD. For example, it is not unusual for children to go through periods where they are afraid of monsters or ghosts. And everyone has had the experience of worrying about making a mistake at work or school. It’s only when these thoughts and behaviors become so excessive that they interfere with your daily life that they may be considered symptoms of OCD.
Causes of OCD
The exact cause of OCD is unknown but it is thought to be related to changes in brain chemistry and functioning. In particular, abnormalities in the levels of certain neurotransmitters (chemicals that carry messages between nerve cells) have been linked to OCD. Family history also plays a role; if you have a close relative with OCD, you are more likely to develop the condition yourself.
Risk factors for developing OCD include age (symptoms typically begin during childhood or adolescence), gender (OCD is more common in males than females), stress (such as trauma or the death of a loved one), and other psychiatric conditions (such as depression or anxiety).
Treatment for OCD
If you think you may have OCD, it’s important to seek professional help. Many people with OCD try to hide their symptoms because they are embarrassed or ashamed but there is nothing to be ashamed of—OCD is a real medical condition that can be effectively treated by mental health professionals such as psychiatrists and psychologists.
The most effective treatment for OCD is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy called exposure and response prevention (ERP). ERP involves gradually exposing yourself to your feared situations and objects while simultaneously refraining from performing your compulsions. For example, if you are afraid of contamination by germs, your therapist may ask you to touch an object that has been deliberately contaminated (such as a doorknob) and then refrain from washing your hands for an extended period of time. Over time, ERP can help reduce your fear response and give you more control over your compulsions.
If you think you may have OCD, don’t hesitate to seek professional help—OCD is a real medical condition that can be effectively treated by mental health professionals such as psychiatrists and psychologists using exposure and response prevention therapy. With proper treatment, most people with OCD can live full, productive lives.