It’s not unusual to go back and double-check things throughout the day, such as whether you turned the oven off after dinner or to ensure the iron has been unplugged and doesn’t pose a hazard. Many people can also be concerned about germs, particularly in a pandemic. But those with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) find these behaviours interfere with their daily life.
If you’re concerned about your behaviour or negative thoughts you’ve been having, it’s best to talk to a professional. OCD is not something that you can diagnose on your own. It requires a professional understanding. However, we’ll look at some of the common patterns OCD patients experience and how they can overcome the disorder.
What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?
OCD is considered an anxiety disorder. Those who suffer from it often have uncontrollable thoughts or feel compelled to perform specific repetitive actions. Those with OCD are usually aware their thoughts and behaviours are not common, but they don’t feel they are capable of stopping. Rather, they are driven to these thoughts and behaviours by the anxiety they have. For example, some patients may compulsively wash their hands over and over again because they are afraid of germs. OCD patients can present with any variety of behaviours or unwanted thoughts. The key is that they feel unable to control these on their own.
Most patients with OCD will suffer from one of the following:
Washers – these are people who are afraid of being dirty. They often present with a compulsion to wash their hands.
Checkers – individuals who double-check things over and over again are considered part of this category. They are often driven by a fear of danger. For example, they will regularly check that the door is locked so no one can break in or that the oven has been turned off, so they don’t have to be afraid of fire.
Doubters and sinners – those who are driven to perfection because they are afraid of being punished or that something terrible will happen fall into this category.
Counters and arrangers – focused on order and symmetry, these patients may have superstitions about certain colours or numbers.
While there can be different types of symptoms OCD sufferers feel drawn to perform, there is help, and those with OCD can find a future free of their symptoms.
Signs you may have OCD
Not everyone with obsessive thoughts and behaviours is considered to have OCD. Rather, if your thoughts and behaviours cause a significant amount of stress, you could have OCD. When you have OCD, it can disrupt your relationships and take a lot of time out of your day. Many patients engage in their behaviours for over an hour each day. Here are some of the common signs that you’ll exhibit if you have OCD:
Fear of being dirty
Afraid of losing control and harming yourself
Unwanted sexually violent thoughts
Obsession with religion or morality
·Superstitions about things needing to be just so
Spending hours double-checking stuff around your home, such as the door lock, appliances, etc.
Attempting to reduce anxiety by counting or repeating certain words
Collecting junk like empty food containers
OCD behaviours and thoughts can include many more things that are not on this list. If you’re concerned you may have OCD, contact one of our counsellors who can help you.
Treatment for OCD
There are several treatment options available for those diagnosed with OCD. They include:
This is the most common way that patients tackle their OCD. It involves repeated exposure to that thing that you fear. The goal is to help you overcome your fear. When we are afraid of something, we tend to avoid it. This only makes that thing seem bigger and scarier. The key is to gain exposure to that thing that you are afraid of but to do it without engaging in your compulsive behaviour.
This type of therapy can be a very intense experience as you’ll have to wait for your anxiety to pass. And that can be an uncomfortable feeling. However, once you’ve done this successfully several times, the compulsive behaviour will lose its grip on you. You’ll start to see how much power you have to control your thoughts and behaviours.
With cognitive behaviour therapy, it’s crucial for therapists to start with smaller fears and help you work your way up to facing your bigger fears. Consider it a way to build up your resistance to anxiety and compulsive behaviour.
Another major part of therapy is to talk about your thoughts and behaviours. It’s essential that patients come to grips with the power they have over thoughts and behaviours. Therapists will help you learn healthier thinking and behaviour patterns.
Medication is not always needed in OCD treatment, but for some patients, antidepressants can help them get through therapy sessions. The medicines are often used for just a short time until the patient starts to excel in cognitive behavioural therapy.
OCD can be disruptive to relationships, such as family connections. It can be helpful for OCD patients to take therapy with their loved ones. Doing so can help family members understand more about the condition. It can also be a good place where you and your loved ones can talk over conflicts and find healthier ways to resolve them.
Some OCD patients feel very alone. You may feel like no one understands you. But that’s not the case. Group therapy can help you build connections and meet others with also live with OCD. It can offer you inspiration and encouragement as you work through the challenge of overcoming your OCD.
What to do if you have OCD?
If you think you may have OCD, contact our therapists and let us know about your concerns. We’ll walk with you through the process of diagnosis and treatment. Be encouraged by knowing that you can live free of your OCD.
Contact Catharsis Therapy for a free consultation today.