OCD is a term many are familiar with – perhaps to the point of trivialization. Some have even cloaked the concept in superstition, over the years. Nonetheless, it doesn’t take away salient facts about the condition. The intrusive thoughts and the repetitive activities that characterize it often get so serious that they reduce the quality of sufferers’ lives, or disrupt it. OCD strains relationships, reduces productivity and takes a toll on one’s mental health. Therefore, OCD persons have to deal with these thoughts and activities to attain optimum wellness. This article discusses subjects such as “what is OCD?”, “what are OCD symptoms?”, “how to deal with OCD intrusive thoughts”, and “how to treat OCD”, among others. Read on to find out!
What is OCD? What Does OCD Mean?
If you are still wondering “what does OCD mean?”, OCD is the acronym for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. It is a mental condition in which one suffers from repeated unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and the urge to do things over and over again (compulsion). Some classify OCD into four types, based on the theme of triggers. They include perfection, contamination, forbidden thoughts, and doubt/harm. OCD is a fairly common condition in the US, with approximately a 1% prevalence rate. More women have OCD than men.
What are Some OCD Symptoms?
Like many other conditions, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder has its share of signs and symptoms.
- The need to have things in symmetrical, orderly arrangements. In other words, a fetish for orderliness.
- Fear of being contaminated by dirt, germs, and the like. In other words, a fetish for extreme cleanliness.
- Doubts and finding it difficult to accommodate uncertainty. This usually applies to domestic activities, such as locking the house, feeding pets, and so on.
- Unwanted thoughts that may border on different subjects. These may range from academic to religious, and even sexual.
- The constant fear of losing control to compulsive behaviors, and a corresponding irrational fear of triggers.
- Constant washing and cleaning of body parts, clothes, and surrounding surfaces.
- Checking and rechecking previously undertaken activities to see if they were done properly.
- Constant arrangement of things in a particular order, and apparent distress when this order is messed with.
- Repetition of a set of words or phrases – to the point of irrationality.
Find out if you have OCD
How to Stop OCD Intrusive Thoughts
Below are some tips on how to stop OCD intrusive thoughts in their tracks when they threaten to disrupt your day.
1. Understand Your Triggers; Practice Mindfulness
One critical step to crafting solutions in many scenarios is a proper understanding of prevailing factors. It is the same with intrusive thoughts caused by OCD. If you seek how to get rid of OCD intrusive thoughts, you should analyze what triggers them and spikes your anxiety levels. You also have to analyze the events that encompass these triggers. This will help you understand them better, and steer clear of them. This will, in turn, rid you of the compulsive behaviors that often ensue, as there are no obsessive thoughts to precipitate them. You could also practice mindfulness as a way to battle intrusive thoughts. If you are not able to control external triggers, make efforts to go through them with a non-judgmental, or resistant mindset.
2. Find a “distraction” if these thoughts come creeping in.
Even if these thoughts come beckoning nonetheless, find a “distraction” to break the chain of intrusive thoughts. The distraction in this sense should be something you can “lose yourself in”. As you switch to or partake in a different activity, the brain switches its focal point from that of imminent anxiety to concentration on something else – usually something that quells anxiety. Some of the activities you could embrace in this respect include the following:
- Read a book: Books are mentally stimulating and tasking. They are sure to send obsessive thoughts into the background. They also leave you feeling better about yourself – especially after you are done with them.
- Draw or Write: Pouring inspirations down a flood of ink, or through the ingenious scribblings of a pencil is also mentally stimulating. In addition, it also dissipates anxiety. The less anxious you are, the lesser the chances of getting intrusive thoughts.
- Exercises: Exercises are mentally stimulating and thus also good “distractions”. They also boost your confidence and make you feel good about yourself. Some studies suggest that exercises may also steadily rewire the brain’s circuitry, such that the chances of the manifestation of OCD are reduced.
3. Reach out to loved ones:
For any person who seeks how to stop OCD thoughts, reaching out to loved ones is a potent remedy. Whatever medium you choose to adopt, reaching out to loved ones is a powerful way to put intrusive thoughts in check. The company of loved ones confers a relaxing atmosphere that dampens your anxiety levels and sends intrusive thoughts into oblivion. In other words, it is also a means of “distraction”. However, these people you interact with must be familiar with the concept of OCD. They should also be willing to help.
These should be people who know the right words to say at the right time, without stringing you up in a web of reassurance-seeking, subsequently worsening your symptoms. Reluctant, indifferent, or ignorant people can cause more harm than good. Therefore, you should be careful about who you approach. The right support system urges you along the path of management and treatment of your symptoms. They help you manage intrusive thoughts better and leave you feeling better about yourself.
4. Work on your self-esteem.
A significant fraction of OCD episodes is set off by problems that stem from low self-esteem. Consciously working on your self-esteem implies that you give less attention to external validation. Thus, you become relatively unswayed by even the most elusive of negative thoughts. This also plummets the chances of slinking into depression. In addition, it reduces the urge to vie for perfectionism and the compulsive behavior that follows. Whether it be a personal endeavor, or an assisted project, working on your self-esteem is a sure way to reduce intrusive thoughts.
OCD, although trivialized, is often a serious condition that requires commensurate management. While the intrusive thoughts characteristic of this condition is troublesome, they are certainly manageable – and even curable! Apart from the aforementioned points, a person who seeks how to deal with OCD thoughts may consider adopting pets, embracing exercise regimens, and creating a healthy sleep routine. These are also quite efficient at warding off intrusive thoughts. However, there is usually a need for consistent adherence before favorable results can be seen.
In the unlikely case that these fall through, psychotherapy usually suffices as a treatment procedure if one seeks how to stop OCD. Therapy sessions may have substantial cost implications, but they are usually worth it in the long run. Other ways to treat OCD include monitored medication, deep brain stimulation, and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. How to treat OCD in individuals depends on a combination of factors – including choice, cost implications, and severity, among others.