How to overcome obsessive compulsive disorder

How to overcome obsessive compulsive disorder

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – also know as OCD – is a tricky one. If you have it, you’ll understand how debilitating it can be. If not, it’s a tricky one to get your head around.

OCD is treatable with medication but there’s never been an actual cure for the mental illness. But that could all change according to a new study.

Research into the condition is being conducted by Dr. Nicole Calakos at Duke University in North Carolina, and she’s come across some fascinating results. Dr. Calakos and her team have been studying mice that are genetically altered to exhibit OCD-like behavior, which means they’re missing the Sapap3 gene that helps our brain cells organise things and communicate effectively. The mice have therefore become anxious and obsessed with grooming themselves.

The team found that a specific receptor known as mGluR5 was responsible for this unusual behaviour, and usually, Sapap3 would limit its activity. When the mice without Sapap3 were given medication to block mGluR5, their OCD symptoms disappeared almost immediately. And when they administered a drug that boosted mGluR5 to regular lab mice, they began exhibiting OCD-like characteristics just like the mice who were genetically modified.

This new treatment is looking pretty attractive, because unlike anti-depressants – which are what are usually administered to OCD sufferers – the treatment tested in this study works almost immediately, and has a long-term effect, unlike the anti-depressants.

Could mGluR5-blocking medications be the answer for OCD sufferers in humans? Here’s hoping.

OCD doesn’t go away on its own, and it has no cure. You can’t ignore it or think your way out of the repetitive thoughts and behaviors that control your life. What you can control is your decision to get treatment.

The first step is to see your doctor. An exam will show if your symptoms are the result of a physical issue. If they’re not, your doctor can recommend a mental illness specialist, like a psychologist, therapist, or social worker, who can create a plan for you. If you are considering medication, they may refer you to a psychiatrist as well.

For many people, combining talk therapy and medication works best.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). OCD has a cycle: obsessions, anxiety, compulsions, and relief. CBT, a type of psychotherapy, gives you tools to think, act, and react to your unhealthy thoughts and habits. The goal is to replace negative thoughts with productive ones.

Exposure and response prevention (ERP). This is a specific form of CBT. As the name suggests, you’ll be exposed to the things that trigger your anxiety, a little at a time. You’ll learn new ways to respond to them in place of your repetitive rituals. ERP is a process you may do one-on-one with your mental health professional or in group therapy, either by yourself or with your family there.

Medication. Antidepressants are often the first medications prescribed for OCD. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you are depressed, it’s just that antidepressants also treat OCD. Your doctor may have you try clomipramine (Anafranil), fluoxetine (Prozac), fluvoxamine (Luvox), paroxetine (Paxil), sertraline (Zoloft), or another antidepressant, depending on your age, health, and symptoms.

It can take a couple of months for OCD drugs to start to work. They also can give you side effects, like dry mouth, nausea, and thoughts of suicide. Call your doctor or 911 right away if you have thoughts about killing yourself.

Take your medication regularly on schedule. If you don’t like the side effects or if you feel better and want to stop taking your medicine, ask your doctor how to taper off safely. If you miss a few doses or stop cold turkey, you could have side effects or a relapse.

Other treatment. Sometimes OCD doesn’t respond well to medication or therapy. Experimental treatments for severe cases of OCD include:

    . You could join research trials to test unproven therapies.
  • Deep brain stimulation, where you get electrodes surgically implanted in your brain
  • Electroconvulsive therapy. Electrodes attached to your head give you electric shocks to start seizures, which make your brain release hormones like serotonin.

Your treatment goals for OCD are to retrain you brain and to control your symptoms with the least amount of medication possible. Set yourself up for success physically by eating healthy food, exercising, and getting enough sleep. Emotional support matters, too: Surround yourself with encouraging family, friends, and people who understand OCD.

Sources

Cleveland Clinic: “Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.”

National Institute of Mental Health: “Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: When Unwanted Thoughts or Irresistible Actions Take Over,” “Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.”

Johns Hopkins Medicine: “Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).”

OCD-UK: “Understanding what drives OCD.”

Mayo Clinic: “Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder,” “Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs),” “Deep brain stimulation.”

Obsessive compulsive disorder is a type of anxiety disorder that can result in extreme obsessions or compulsive actions. Originally thought to be quite rare, it is now apparent that OCD affects a large percentage of the population. In fact, according to the International OCD Foundation, up to 3 million men and women in the United States are currently suffering from OCD. According to OCD specialist, Dr. Monnica Williams at the University of Pennsylvania, “Most people don’t realize just how devastating OCD can be. Many people with OCD are disabled by obsessions and compulsions that may take up to ten hours per day.” If you find that your daily routine is being compromised by certain obsessions, make an appointment with a mental health care provider to learn more about OCD.

What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?
Obsessive compulsive disorder is a brain disorder that causes extreme anxiety, worry, and guilt. If you have obsessive compulsive disorder you may worry unduly about having a neat house or about the health and safety of others. What makes OCD so unbearable are the uncontrollable feelings that something bad will happen if you do not act in a certain way.

OCD can affect anyone at any age. Men and women appear to be affected at the same rates and with the same symptoms. Often, OCD will begin in childhood, adolescence, or early adulthood, and get progressively worse. OCD used to be a very difficult disorder to treat, but now there are many effective therapies available to control the symptoms of the disorder. The majority of sufferers will be able to live happy and productive lives. However, there is no cure for OCD and only 20% of sufferers will recover completely from their symptoms.

Cause of OCD
OCD is thought to be caused by a combination of biological, genetic, and environmental factors. People with OCD have a defect in certain systems in the brain, which prevents adequate communication within the brain. In particular, OCD sufferers seem to have a problem with the frontal lobe and the basal ganglia, a structure deep within the brain. OCD sufferers also tend to have low levels of serotonin in their brains, a neurotransmitter responsible for helping parts of your brain communicate with other parts.

Other causes of OCD may rest with genetics. No specific genes that cause OCD have yet been discovered, however, it is believed that some cases of OCD may be inherited. In particular, childhood OCD seems to run in families and more than a third of all adults with OCD claim their disorder began in childhood. Childhood strep infections have also been linked to OCD developing in children who were already predisposed to the disorder.

Environmental factors may also have an important role to play in obsessive compulsive disorder causes. Childhood sexual abuse or exposure to an obsessive compulsive parent may increase your risk of developing OCD.

Symptoms of OCD
Obsessive compulsive disorder symptoms usually involve both obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are unwanted thoughts or impulses that reoccur constantly, causing feelings of disgust, anxiety, guilt, or fear. Compulsions are actions that are usually used to help these obsessions disappear. These actions are done over and over again, and may have to conform to certain rules or standards.

Compulsive acts are not at all pleasurable, but instead are performed only to reduce the stress caused by the obsession. More than 80% of all OCD sufferers experience both obsessions and compulsions on a regular basis. Symptoms of OCD may come and go over time, altering in intensity. 20% of people with OCD also experience tics, which are random sounds or movements of the body.

Obsessions: If you have OCD, it is most likely an obsession that drives your compulsive behavior. Common obsessive symptoms of OCD include fears of contamination, fears of self-harm or the harm of others, excessive religious thoughts, aggressive urges, sexual fears, and the need to have things in just the “right” place. Obsessions manifest as thoughts, images, or worries, and can occur at any time. They cause severe anxiety and discomfort, and will make you want to do anything to get rid of them. Most obsessions make no logical sense and the majority of OCD sufferers are aware of this. However, despite the illogicality of their obsessions, OCD sufferers may be unable to overcome the disorder on their own. Those sufferers who don’t see a lack of logic in their fears are described as having illogical OCD.

Compulsions: OCD compulsions are usually triggered by an obsessive fear or worry. In order to reduce your anxiety, you may find yourself performing certain actions that could take up a large amount of your day. These compulsive actions may temporarily relieve some stress, but will never completely solve your anxiety. Compulsions are often ritualized and must be performed according to certain “rules.” If these rules are not adhered to properly, they are often done again until they are performed exactly right. Common compulsions in OCD include obsessive washing (as can occur in Mysophobia, more commonly referred to as germaphobia), counting, repeating, checking, arranging, touching, praying, and hoarding.

Possible Consequences of OCD
OCD is associated with a number of possible consequences. If treatment for obsessive compulsive disorder isn’t sought early on, it could lead to an inability to work or interact with other people. Many sufferers of OCD also experience depression, bipolar disorder, phobias (such as agoraphobia), and eating disorders. If you have OCD for a long period of time you may also find that you suffer from panic attacks and are unable to continue with work or maintain household responsibilities.

Support for OCD
Whether your OCD is mild or severe, coping with the disorder can be emotionally stressful and strain your relationships. Getting support from others is especially important, and is also a good way to prevent loved ones from feeling burned out from repeated requests for reassurance. Many treatment providers and non-profit advocacy organizations (such as your local chapter of the International OCD Foundation) offer support groups for patients and family members. There are also a number of online support communities, such as NeuroticPlanet, which can offer peer support straight from your computer. No one suffering from OCD needs to cope with the disorder alone.

For more information about obsessive-compulsive disorder, visit OCD Types.

How to overcome obsessive compulsive disorder

Occasionally it’s ok to go back and double-check if you turned off the microwave oven or unplugged your iron. You might also be concerned whether you have germs on your body, and to some extent, this concern and worry are entirely reasonable.

But if such distressing and violent thoughts become too recurrent and start interfering with your life, you might have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). OCD is characterized by uncontrolled and unwanted repetitive behaviors and thought patterns. You may know these anxieties you have are irrational, but you can’t seem to control yourself from going in that direction.

Fortunately, many approaches can help you take control of your mind and have better control over OCD. Let’s take a look at the top 10 tips that can help you overcome OCD.

1. Identify your triggers

The first step that you can take towards improving your situation is recognizing what things trigger your obsessive thoughts. Start by keeping a record of things that trigger you daily and start to put labels on those triggers by their intensity.

For example, touching your dog might make you feel like you have germs, and you may need to wash your hands. It’s a level 3 trigger, whereas touching the restroom floor will invoke a level 10 trigger, and you feel like you need to clean your hands for 15 minutes. Knowing your triggers beforehand will help you anticipate urges and have better control over yourself.

2. Learn Resistance

It might seem like a great idea to avoid your triggers, but it’s not a long-term solution, and it makes things only scarier. You have to learn to resist and face your fears by not running away from them. Instead, try facing them and seeing the actual harm they produce as compared to what you think they do.

This is known as Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) and is also used by professional therapists to treat OCD. By this, you learn to tolerate your anxiety and be more rational with your fears. This practice of continual voluntary exposure helps you see your fears more rationally and get a better grip on your compulsions.

3. Be Mindful

For people with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Mindfulness can be a great help. Mindfulness means paying attention to the present moment and observing your own thinking without judgment. In OCD, you have painful and intrusive thoughts, fears, and anxieties.

By being mindful, you try to see these thoughts for their true rational nature and the impact they have on your well-being. By being aware of them, you can choose not to go in that direction. Although it may be difficult with OCD, mindfulness can help you tackle your troublesome thoughts more rationally.

4. Identify Black or White Thinking

During your journey for improvement, you will slip back many times. But, it should not mean that you are a complete failure. You are in it for the long-term, and you always get another chance. You do not have to be too hard on yourself.

It is normal to make mistakes when learning new skills and trying out new strategies, especially for overcoming OCD. Even if you experience a significant setback, don’t let it throw you off. Understand that every human makes mistakes, and it will take some time for you to see improvement.

5. Join a support group

Having OCD can sometimes feel alienating if you’re the only one in your circle undergoing this problem. One of the best things you can do to share your experiences and learning about other people’s successes is to join a support group.

OCD support groups can help you relate with other people going through the same problems as you are. You find a safe space to share your thoughts and also learn how others cope with their problems.

6. Stay Connected with Family and Friends

Compulsions and obsessions can often consume your thinking and lead you to social isolation. Isolation works as the best fuel for your distressing thoughts, and it only multiplies your stress with time.

It is essential to stay connected with your family and friends and share your thoughts and concerns with them. Talking your worries face-to-face with someone can help you cope better with your concerns, and other people can share their insight that can help you deal with your situation better.

7. Exercise Regularly

Exercise is one of the most effective and natural anti-anxiety treatments. It can help improve your mood and blow off some steam by engaging your body in some hard work. It can also help you stay occupied and reduce symptoms of OCD.

Try to get a minimum of 20 minutes of aerobic exercise each day. You can get a treadmill or go out for a jog daily to clear your mind and get some fresh air.

8. Make Some Lifestyle Changes

Anxiety and insomnia go hand in hand. If you have one, you can develop the other. Getting a proper amount of sleep every night can help your mind feel relaxed and be calmer. Having adequate rest can help you keep an emotional balance and deal better with your symptoms.

Join a gym, try spending your free time in some useful activity. Avoid alcohol and caffeine intake. These substances can make you feel relaxed temporarily but disturb your body’s natural relaxation causing even more anxiety afterward.

9. Educate yourself about OCD

Many people don’t understand their problems from a deeper perspective. Some don’t even fully accept that they have OCD. The best approach is first to accept your situation and then educate yourself about it properly so you understand why it happens, and most importantly, what you can do about it.

10. Get Professional Help

Therapy is a beautiful practice that has helped many people change their lives for the better. If you have been struggling with your compulsive thoughts and don’t think your situation is getting better, then it’s always best to seek professional help.

Therapists can help you understand your concerns and create a customized plan for you, depending on your personality. You can learn different effective coping techniques and can even use medications to treat problems more effectively.

Conclusion

OCD can be a challenging condition to deal with, but many techniques, especially therapy, can help you get a better grip on your situation. It is important to remember that no one is perfect, and you will face many setbacks during your treatment. You will see benefits with time, and these tips will help you understand OCD better and live healthier and stress-free lives.

How to overcome obsessive compulsive disorder

About 25 – 30 years ago, it was popularly believed that Obsession Compulsion Disorder (OCD) was a rare mental condition. Which was only seen to affect a small fraction of people. However, presently the case seems surprisingly different as it has become something rampant. According to BBC health statistics, for every 50 Americans, at least one is affected by obsession compulsion disorder. Therefore we have to know how to stop OCD Thoughts in our minds.

When this mental illness is left untreated, horrific, unwanted, irrational, intrusive thoughts or a mental image can suddenly begin to have a drastic effect on our lives. These obsessions also come with time-consuming compulsion.

The obsession-compulsion disorder makes you feel compelled to act on uncontrollable, repetitive, unwanted intrusive thought that keeps locked in our mind. These intrusive thoughts seem you can’t break free from them.

How do you resist OCD THOUGHT?

OCD thoughts cannot be totally cured, but you can learn to handle and reacts to these intrusive thoughts. The most effective way to stop OCD thoughts is by letting the obsessions keep going. An attempt to stop these obsessions or fight them would not stop the intrusive thoughts rather worse those thoughts.

Face your fears

Many people run away from what triggers their obsession compulsion disorder thoughts, it always seems like it a smarter decision. However, not facing them will only make them scarier and you more anxious than the initial state. An African adage says, “The demon you refuse to fight today, will enslave you tomorrow”, so why not face whatever triggers your OCD thought, to become stronger and enjoy your life free without worries.

Find a new focus

Whenever OCD thoughts kick off in your mind, try focusing on something different and fun. Most people go for a walk, play a video game, chat with friends or even attend a party. After successfully diverting your focus to some else, try reassessing those urges, mental images, or intrusive thoughts intentionally, you will find them less scary and tormenting.

Block all urges

These steps require you to pay attention to your urge and make sure they don’t surface. For instance, if your compulsion behaviors are checking if the lights are off or appliances are off also, why not try putting them off with extra attention before you leave in the first place. Pay attention to your triggers and correct them before you have to start worrying about them. After correcting them, if these OCD thoughts come back, say to yourself “I don’t need to worry, I closed them, Jerry helped me and am very certain these times.”

Write your OCD worries down

This is stressful, as it requires you to keep writing down all your OCD thoughts, even if it repeated hundred times. As you keep trying which is stressful, your brain gets tired of thinking or worrying slowly because you have to write them down. This reduces the effects of OCD thoughts on you.

Relax

Although it is popularly known that stress is not the major cause of these unwanted, repetitive, and annoying OCD thoughts. However, stress can bring about these symptoms or make the effect of the OCD thought on you worse. Try meditating, take a yoga lesson, and other techniques that relax the mind. A relaxed mind is a sound mind, a sound mind can manage urges from OCD thoughts.

How to overcome obsessive compulsive disorder

If your child has obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), you know that this condition affects not only your child but also your entire family. The guidance that follows can help parents gain a better understanding of OCD, learn helpful strategies to support their children, and ease distress all around.

What is obsessive-compulsive disorder?

OCD typically includes uncontrollable, recurring thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions or rituals) that a child feels an urgent need to repeat again and again. For example, your child may repeat a grooming routine until he feels “just right.”

A child may engage in compulsions or rituals to temporarily reduce distress. A child also may complete a compulsion because she imagines that doing so will prevent a scary outcome. For example, a child may tap a countertop three times at the start of every hour to prevent a parent from dying in a car crash. Even though the child logically may know that the two behaviors are not linked, the distress caused by having such obsessions can make the likelihood of the car crash seem possible if the child does not perform the ritual.

Unfortunately, compulsions strengthen obsessions in the long run. This sets up a vicious cycle of obsessions, distress, and compulsions.

How does OCD affect the family?

OCD does not just affect children who have the disorder. It can have an impact on the entire family, resulting in frequent conflicts. For example, the insistence on completing compulsions at specified times and places — such as, at 9:00 AM at home — may make you late for work and your children late for school. OCD also may dictate which family members cannot touch certain objects or say certain phrases, which may make family members feel uncomfortable in their own home.

Parents and siblings understandably can feel resentful for the ways in which OCD can interfere with their daily lives. Parents also can feel guilty about not being able to support their child sufficiently.

How can you support a child with OCD?

Looking for help from an experienced mental health professional is a good way to start. Strategies used to treat OCD go against maternal and paternal instincts, so it is important for children and their parents to be involved in treatment to learn how to manage OCD. The tips below may help.

  • Pursue cognitive behavioral therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a specialized psychotherapy that helps people learn the links among thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and develop tools to address unhelpful patterns. A special type of CBT that focuses on exposure and response prevention (ERP) is considered the gold standard treatment for OCD. This evidence-based treatment helps a child gradually resist engaging in compulsions while learning that the outcome is not as bad as expected — or, at least, can be tolerated. If your child’s symptoms are consuming more than an hour daily, creating distress for your child or family, and interfering with activities, your child may benefit from CBT with ERP. You can ask your pediatrician for a referral, or search for a provider or a program through the International OCD Foundation.
  • Try not to accommodate. As a parent, your instinct is to support and protect your child. Unfortunately, OCD feeds on attention and accommodation. For example, if your child asks you to open a door to avoid coming in contact with germs, you inadvertently strengthen OCD each time you open the door. This is because your child’s brain learns that the door handle is something to fear and cannot be handled by him. Try to resist participating in rituals, even if it feels awful to refrain. Giving OCD an inch only encourages it to demand a mile. Resisting accommodation may make symptoms worse before they get better. Think of OCD as a bully who demands lunch money. A bully usually will not accept “no” as an initial answer. Instead, he’ll try to up the ante until he gets the money. However, the bully will learn over time that it is not worth the effort to get no attention and no money. The situation can improve if you remain consistent.
  • Understand that your child is probably not trying to be oppositional. If you view your child as defying you on purpose, you may feel angry. This can prompt you to engage in a futile battle of wills. Try to shift perspectives for a moment. Think about something that terrifies you — maybe entering a cage with a hungry tiger. Your human instinct is to escape, and you might do whatever it takes to do so. Now imagine someone trying to force you to stay in the cage. That is what it can feel like for a child to be told that she needs to stop a ritual. Obsessions elicit tremendous distress. Your child may worry that she will not be able to tolerate the outcome of an incomplete compulsion. Remind yourself that OCD is a very convincing bully. You are angering OCD, not your child. It is not your child trying to disrupt the family; it is the OCD.

Seek support for yourself

As noted above, OCD can affect the whole family. Ask your pediatrician or a mental health professional about OCD peer support groups for parents in your community. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) may guide you to one. Some clinicians trained in CBT and CBT with ERP for children with obsessive-compulsive disorder also provide parent guidance. You deserve support, too, and to learn that you are not alone as you help your child manage OCD.

Disclaimer:

As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

Comments

Commenting has been closed for this post.

You might also be interested in…

How to overcome obsessive compulsive disorder

Anxiety and Stress Disorders

Everyone worries or gets scared sometimes. But if you feel extremely worried or afraid much of the time, or if you repeatedly feel panicky, you may have an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental illnesses, affecting roughly 40 million American adults each year. This Special Health Report, Anxiety and Stress Disorders, discusses the latest and most effective treatment approaches, including cognitive behavioral therapies, psychotherapy, and medications. A special section delves into alternative treatments for anxiety, such as relaxation techniques, mindfulness meditation, and biofeedback.

How to overcome obsessive compulsive disorder

Meditation is an action of simplicity and surprisingly it can profoundly impact complex facets of our life. Our mental health and mindsets are the first aspects to be impacted by meditation. It even has the ability to help us overcome OCD, obsessive-compulsive disorder. Click here to find more health benefits of meditation.

Understanding OCD

OCD is a complex disorder categorized by reoccurring and debilitating persistent urges. These can range from unwanted or intrusive thoughts, ideas, or images. The cycles of the impulses cause the person a great amount of anxiety which commonly they find they gain temporary relief by performing the action or task.

To give an example is when someone may have obsessive thoughts about dirty or germs. Their minds may be constantly circulating around feeling contaminated. Then, through washing their hands or cleaning themselves as the compulsive action it will calm their anxiety.

OCD is can come from when our minds are hyperfocused on a specific task or thoughts that distract us from the thoughts that we want to push away. The mind uses uncomfortability as a trigger to then escape it through another point of focus.

How to overcome obsessive compulsive disorder

Meditation and OCD

Through meditation, we practice taking back control of the mind and allow distractions to pass. Uncomfortability, strong emotions and even fear are all distractions the mind can stir up during meditation. Find more information on how meditation can break cyclical habits here.

When practicing meditation we strengthen our ability to stay calm and focused even when the feelings of discomfort arise. This correlates with how one can approach intrusive thoughts even when feelings of anxiety are attached.

In a 2013 study, explored mindfulness meditation and distraction within 30 patients diagnosed with OCD. The subjects were asked to listen to their obsessive thoughts on a loop through headphones in three different rounds.

The first round was a baseline, the second round the volunteers practiced either mindfulness of distraction, and the third round was a return to baseline. The results proved mindfulness and meditation to be more effective in treating exposure to obsessive thoughts.

The mindfulness participants had lower anxiety as well as a lower urge to complete the compulsion whereas the distraction participants showed no reduction in urges.

How To Practice Meditation For OCD

The difference between the mindfulness approach and the distraction approach in the previous study above is the exact reason why mindfulness and meditation are so effective. Meditation guides one to be an observer of the unwanted thoughts and to allow uncomfortable sensations and emotions to be there.

Mindfulness cultivates awareness and acknowledges urges and emotions rather than suppressing them. The ability to witness emotions and urges neutrally without needing to act on them is strengthened anytime one sits in mediation. You can deepen your meditation practice by following this guided meditation to be in the present moment.

The other way meditation helps one to take control of their OCD is by the process of self-reflection meditation offers. When we still the conscious mind the subconscious is able to rise to the surface. This then allows us to see deeper into compulsions and what roots lie tangled within them. You may also enjoy diving into your subconscious with journal prompts to heal the root chakra.

Continue Learning

Continue learning how to let go of attachments and find your inner peace with the amazing tool meditation which has no negative side effects.

How to overcome obsessive compulsive disorder

Are obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors affecting your life? Obsessive compulsive disorder or OCD is a common mental disorder characterized by intrusive, obsessive thoughts and repetitive, compulsive actions.

Whether you’re a man, woman, or child, OCD can affect anyone. This mental health condition can cause serious difficulty in your life, but effective treatment can help you significantly.

What is obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)?

Obsessive compulsive disorder, also known as obsessive compulsive neurosis, is a mental illness that involves unwanted, intrusive, and sometimes disturbing thoughts, urges, or fears (obsessions) that causes a lot of discomfort and anxiety.

As a result, the person tries to control the thoughts and urges and reduce their anxiety by engaging in repetitive mental acts or behaviors (compulsions). Such obsessions and compulsions can greatly interfere with a person’s ability to properly function and carry out daily activities.

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) defines OCD as an anxiety disorder where “people have recurring, unwanted thoughts, ideas or sensations (obsessions) that make them feel driven to do something repetitively (compulsions). The repetitive behaviors, such as hand washing, checking on things or cleaning, can significantly interfere with a person’s daily activities and social interactions.”

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), obsessive-compulsive disorder “is a common, chronic, and long-lasting disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and/or behaviors (compulsions) that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over.”

The vicious cycle of OCD

With OCD, your obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors will become extremely consuming and uncontrollable. You will feel compelled to do something even when you realize that these obsessions and compulsions are irrational and unnecessary. However, you will be unable to stop, resist or break free from them.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is unlike common bad habits, such as biting fingernails or having negative thoughts. An obsessive may make you feel compelled to think that a specific number is lucky or unlucky for you. A compulsion may force you to wash your hands or face repeatedly, especially after touching something or going outside. You may feel reluctant to do such things or try to ignore the triggers, but you will feel helpless and that will add to your anxiety.

These thoughts and behaviors will get stuck in your mind and you will be unable to shake off these urges despite how hard you try or engage in them. Although performing these intrusive and repetitive actions will provide you some short-term relief from the anxiety, you will be unable to enjoy them or obtain any pleasure from them. Whether you try to ignore them or indulge in them, the thoughts and urges will keep coming back to haunt you. This is the vicious trap of obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Fast facts about OCD

Here are some quick, yet important OCD facts and statistics that you need to know about to better understand this condition: