Do you repeatedly replay a conversation in your head? Experience unwanted or disturbing images? Wash your hands so much that your skin breaks through? Or you can’t stop cleaning your house because it must look “perfect?” These patterns are what is known as obsessive-compulsive disorder. So, let’s discuss the signs, symptoms, and treatment for OCD.
What is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a chronic mental health and behavioural condition with unwanted thoughts, images, or impulses (obsessions). These obsessions then lead to urges (compulsions) to repeatedly perform specific acts to remove these stressors.
OCD occurs frequently and affects the person’s quality of life, whether child, adolescent, or adult. Most OCD sufferers also know their behaviours are irrational but cannot stop them.
Signs and Symptoms
Obsessions – OCD can negatively impact relationships, careers, and daily functioning due to the person’s intrusive thoughts. These thoughts can be so debilitating and prevent people from leaving home.
Symptoms can include:
- Excessive fear of germs
- Making sure everything is in “perfect” order
- Unwanted violent, religious, or sexual thoughts
- Thoughts of harming oneself or others
Compulsions – People with intrusive thoughts and images often form compulsions to eliminate them. However, this method is temporary and unwanted thoughts will return until they address them.
Symptoms can include:
- Ritualistic prayers that last for hours
- Repeatedly counting things
- Excessive hand washing or cleaning
- Frequently checking and unchecking locks or stove knows
Although it’s common to check if your door is locked or your stove is off, it becomes a problem when it takes up most of your day.
There is no particular cause for OCD, but some people are more at risk due to several factors.
Risk factors for OCD may include:
Genetics – Individuals with firsthand relatives with OCD (e.g., a parent or sibling).
Environment – Children who’ve experienced childhood trauma.
Brain Functioning or Structure – More activity in the prefrontal cortex (e.g., helps control behavior, make decisions, solve problems, etc.).
Although we have noted some risk factors, further studies are needed to prove them conclusive.
Treatment For OCD
Talk Therapy – Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) is one of the most effective methods to help identify unhelpful thought patterns and behaviours. A therapist will teach you to challenge those negative thoughts, problem-solve, and develop practical coping skills. For example, suppose you begin to fear something terrible will happen if you don’t count how many kitchen tiles are on the floor. In that case, your therapist will work with you on challenging and modifying those thoughts.
Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) is one form of CBT to treat OCD in a controlled setting. A therapist will help you gradually face your greatest fears without attempting to change or eliminate them. For example, suppose you’re afraid of germs and can’t stop washing your hands. Your therapist will work with you on gradually touching something dirty without washing your hands until your anxiety decreases.
Initially, this method will be anxiety-provoking, but the more we attempt to escape our thoughts, the more they increase. However, over time, your anxiety will decrease through time, practice, and the help of a therapist.
Medication – Treating OCD with medication is not a must or a cure-all. Still, it can be a helpful addition to therapy and help alleviate symptoms. How long a person needs to be on medication will depend on the symptoms’ severity.
OCD is often associated with other mental health conditions or substance abuse—for example, depression, bipolar disorder, and alcohol or drug use. Having more than one condition can increase symptoms of OCD; therefore, it’s important to consider all your treatment options.
Support – Having someone who can relate to your issues and listen without judgment can help relieve your sadness or loneliness. One such place is Barty’s Adventures, where they hold special events and adventures to help men feel better about themselves by keeping active, thus improving mental health. Barty – We Are A Mental Health Initiative
Why Not Try Online Therapy?
Hopefully, these points could give some comfort, but sometimes just reading quotes isn’t enough. Online therapy can be a great option if you or a loved one is looking for more support.
Therapy through BetterHelp.com/Barty can be more affordable than traditional therapy and allows many options to communicate with your therapist from the comfort of your home. Most importantly, remember that it is okay not to be okay, and you are no less of a human for feeling your emotions and being vulnerable.
To receive 25% off your first month, head to BetterHelp.com/Barty
Feel free to drop by if you’d like to chat and just say, ‘Hey Barty,’ in strict confidence, and you can be anonymous if you wish. Or do not hesitate to leave a question in the comments section below at any time.