Symptoms of OCD can vary widely from person to person, but typically fall into two categories: obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are persistent and intrusive thoughts, urges, or images that cause significant anxiety or distress. Compulsions, on the other hand, are repetitive behaviours or mental acts that individuals feel compelled to perform in response to their obsessions.
Some common obsessions associated with OCD include a fear of contamination or germs, unwanted, taboo, aggressive or violent thoughts, the need for symmetry or exactness, and intrusive sexual thoughts. Common compulsions may include excessive cleaning or hand-washing, repeatedly checking things like door and window locks or appliances, counting or repeating words or phrases, and avoiding situations that trigger obsessions.
WHAT ARE THE TREATMENTS FOR OCD?
While there is no known cure for OCD, several effective treatment approaches exist which can help manage and significantly reduce symptoms and improve quality of life.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that helps individuals identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors associated with their OCD.
- Exposure and response prevention (ERP), a type of CBT, involves gradually exposing individuals to their obsessions while preventing them from performing their compulsions.
- Medications such as antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), are also often prescribed to treat OCD.
- ACT (Acceptance & Commitment Therapy) is an approach based in CBT and Mindfulness, which helps a person connect to their values, unhook from unhelpful thoughts and focus on appropriate action-taking.
- Mindfulness and relaxation techniques, such as mindfulness meditation, yoga, and other relaxation techniques, can help reduce anxiety and promote feelings of calmness and well-being.
- Additionally, joining a support group for individuals with OCD can provide a sense of community and understanding, as well as access to valuable resources and coping strategies.
In conclusion, living with OCD is an invisible burden, something that you have likely kept a secret and tried to hide from those around you. OCD can certainly be challenging, distressing and embarrassing. And without treatment it can gradually get worse and worse, impacting more and more areas of your thoughts and behaviours. In essence, it’s a complex anxiety disorder that can significantly impact your quality of life. While the causes of OCD are not yet fully understood, effective treatment is available to help you manage symptoms and improve your overall well-being, but you will need the support and guidance of a registered mental health professional.