Managing Obsessions and Compulsions: Coping with OCD

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Managing OCD

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, or OCD, is an anxiety condition that can greatly affect the quality of your life.  People who have OCD experience uncontrollable thoughts and impulses. They often worry about disastrous, and usually unlikely, events coming to pass.

The key symptoms of OCD are:

  • obsessions with negative things such as death, illness, natural disaster, or other disturbing things
  • a need to perform repetitive actions (called “compulsions”).

The International OCD Foundation, which offers valuable information and resources about the illness, provides a list of common OCD obsessions and a list of compulsions. Some of the obsessions mentioned are contamination, losing control, and religious obsessions (i.e., “excessive concern with morality”). The compulsions listed include washing and cleaning excessively, checking and re-checking (e.g., ensuring “that you did not make a mistake ” over and over again), and repeating the same actions a certain number of times.

People with OCD tend to have trouble coping with it. The effects of having the disorder may cause harm in other areas of their lives such as their relationships, their work, and their leisure time. Untreated, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder can cause significant suffering for the person who has it, and for that person’s family.

For people who have severe OCD, it is usually beneficial to speak with a licensed mental health worker. A psychologist or psychiatrist can determine if someone has OCD then work with him or her to find a way to treat it. Talking to a therapist is usually the first step, and sometimes a psychiatrist will also recommend medication to reduce anxiety.  It’s good to give therapy time to start making a difference, even if it seems difficult at first. Another thing to remember is that the first therapist is not necessarily the best. If one mental health worker doesn’t seem to connect with you or to listen, it is okay to find another therapist who is more understanding of your goals.

In order to handle mild or moderate symptoms of OCD, some people try to seek self-care options. Learning to do yoga, for instance, can be highly effective way to reduce anxiety. Yoga involves a number of relaxation techniques that can help people who struggle with anxiety issues like Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Another good thing about yoga is that you have the freedom to practice it in a variety of locations, so even if you don’t feel comfortable attending a class, you can always work on learning it from home.

Photo Credit: Mr.TinDC via Compfight cc

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