Obsessive about organising your closet till it looks just perfect? Can’t live a single day without your hand sanitiser? This can be a natural feeling because every one of us can be obsessed over little things in life. However, if you experience recurring thoughts that disturb you even if you try to avoid them, and count things repeatedly (such as washing your hands too many times), then you may have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
You are not alone. About one in fifty people experience Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) in their lifetime and it impacts everyone differently. This is what makes it a crucial topic in mental health.
Let’s dig deeper.
What exactly is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and how it impacts lives?
Some people are lucky enough to combat with it naturally while some see its worsened effects that stay with them throughout their lives. If they do not seek professional help, their obsessions tend to worsen overtime.
It’s easy to diagnose if you are affected by OCD. Some of the most common symptoms include the following:
- Checking your front door repeatedly four to five times to make sure it’s locked. Though double-checking the door is a normal behavior, it reflects OCD when it interferes with your daily routine and even relationships.
- Excessively washing hands (at least five times) and ensuring that the soap touches under each nail to get rid of germs. This act may take a lot of time and may often be the reason of getting late to work.
- Cleaning your house for hours to ease germaphobia. If your urge to clean does not stop, you tend to get fearful and anxious. When you spend a large chunk of your time cleaning the entire house, you end up losing both mental and physical energy.
- Organising your belongings in a symmetrical order not because you prefer a neat desk but because this is how you relieve your anxiety.
- Having continuous thoughts of violence that are uncontrollable. Since such thoughts are unacceptable, they force you to take repetitive actions, for instance, calling your mother several times a day just to make sure she is safe from any violence that could happen.
- Performing tasks (such as cleaning or climbing stairs) while counting to yourself. Triggering fearful behaviour, this often creates distraction at work.
Bad news: OCD is chronic. Good news: it can be treated
If remained untreated, OCD can trouble your relationships, create health issues, and even harm the quality of your life. Ultimately, choosing cognitive behavioural therapy can help.
How OCD can be addressed through Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
CBT refers to a talking therapy given by cognitive behavioural therapists to help people change their thinking pattern and act accordingly. Considered one of the most effective psychological treatments for OCD patients, it treats OCD by:
- focusing on how important your obsessive thoughts are to you and how you react to them.
- helping you eliminate the fear of getting hurt and makes you understand that its anxiety that disturbs you and helps you react differently to each anxious situation.
A cognitive behavioural therapist will help you set achievable and specific goals geared towards reducing your signs for OCD (e.g. holding your baby without the fear of giving any harm to him or her). They will also explain to you what OCD actually is, what triggers it, and what you need to do to overcome the symptoms. Known as “formulation,” they might draw a diagram for you.
The Bottom Line
In the beginning, keeping your OCD at bay might feel challenging. This is when you should get the courage to fight it. Due to its proven effectiveness, CBT is considered a successful learning process. It requires strength and patience. But when you stick to it, it can help you get rid of OCD while helping you ease your life.
Ruled by Rituals documentary interview – Cognitive behavioural therapist Sarah D Rees discussing OCD