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OCD- What is it, and how can it be managed?

When you think of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) you may picture someone who constantly washes their hands, or who must have the house perfect at all times.

However, there’s a lot more to OCD than you may think.

According to The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.; DSM-5) “OCD is characterized by the presence of obsessions and/or compulsions. Obsessions are recurrent and persistent thoughts, urges or images that are experienced as intrusive and unwanted, whereas compulsions are repetitive behaviours or mental acts that an individual feels driven to perform in response to an obsession or according to rules that must be applied rigidly” (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).

An individual will feel compelled to carry out these compulsions in order to ease the anxiety or worry over the obsessions. While each obsession and compulsion may be different among individuals, some are common in OCD, for example, “cleaning (contamination obsessions and cleaning compulsions); symmetry (symmetry obsessions and repeating, ordering, and counting obsessions); forbidden or taboo thoughts (e.g. aggressive, sexual, and religious obsessions and related compulsions); and harm (e.g., fears of harm to oneself or others and related checking compulsions)” (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).

 

Image result for vicious cycle of ocd

 

Most of us have worries, doubts and superstitious beliefs. It is only when your thoughts and behaviours make no sense to other people, cause distress or become excessive that you may want to ask for help.

OCD can occur at any stage of your life. If you experience OCD you may also feel anxious and depressed and you may believe you are the only one with obsessive thoughts.

 

So how can you help yourself if you have OCD?

1. Take care of yourself

Exercise is a great anti-anxiety treatment. It can help refocus your mind when intrusive thoughts arise as well as promoting the release of endorphins which can increase your feelings of happiness.

Obsessions and compulsions can take up a lot of time which means you end up being isolated from family and friends. This may also make you want to hide and stay in your own space when dealing with them. However, instead of hiding, talk about your worries and urges, this can help them feel less real and threatening.

Getting enough sleep each night can also be detrimental to your anxiety. Sleep helps promote a healthy emotional balance which is key in coping with anxiety.

2. Get help

You may think that because you have a mild case of OCD, you can overcome this by yourself, however it is still beneficial for you to consult with a professional therapist, e.g. a psychologist, before you start your recovery program. It will also be helpful to confirm your diagnosis.

According to research the most effective treatment for OCD is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). CBT for OCD involves two parts: 1) exposure and response prevention, and 2) cognitive therapy.

 

The important thing to remember is you are notalone in dealing with your OCD and there are many resources out there for you (please see below).

For further support:

OCD Ireland

HSE

The Samaritans

Tel: 116 123

Email:jo@samaritans.org

 

Written by: Alannagh Kelly


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