We’ve all heard the term: OCD, but what does it mean, exactly? And if we, or someone we care about, is suffering from it, what can we do to treat it, or help them with it?
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a mental health disorder marked by increased anxiety, which includes invasive and frequent obsessive thoughts and compulsions to repeat certain habits, beyond what is necessary or healthy.
Someone suffering from OCD will often feel compelled to repeat certain habits, in an attempt to alleviate stress. It is very difficult to resist these urges. When giving into these urges, there is a temporary relief experienced but the obsessions and compulsions return with greater frequency.
A common OCD behavior stems from a fear of disease and germs, where the sufferer may wash their hands, repeatedly, and even to the point of doing damage to their skin. They may also realize they are overdoing the ritual, to the point of feeling shame and embarrassment.
OCD can lead to problems at work, in school, and put undue strain upon relationships with family and friends.
The obsessive thoughts cause people to make a catastrophic assumption about the thought, which leads to increased fear and anxiety.
Some common obsessions include, but are not limited to:
Then there are the compulsions: the attempt to control the anxiety or fear through ritualistic actions.
Some common compulsions are:
While giving into the obsession and compulsion sometimes offers temporary relief, in the end, this only reinforces the OCD, and makes it stronger.
It is difficult to watch someone we care about suffer from any mental disorder. It’s frustrating and can make us feel helpless. You may feel compelled to help them, but what is actually helpful is often counterintuitive.
That being said, there are some things you can do, and not do, that are helpful.
Encourage them to engage in their normal activities, even when they are afraid to do so. The best remedy for many mental disorders is to face them and do the thing we fear the most, anyway. This is difficult, but effective. Encourage them to do the things they enjoy doing, even if they feel anxious about it.
“How about calling your friend and go to hang out with them?”
“You like walking in the park. How about that?”
Continuing to avoid these things, will only reinforce their fears and obsessions further. This only allows their OCD to control them.
If someone’s OCD is deep seated, there may be little you can do to help yourself, or your loved one. They may very well need professional help. That’s why we’re here.
At RDU Counseling for Change, we have the specialists and experience to help with a wide range of mental health issues and disorders, including OCD. We offer services for individuals, couples, and families. We have options for Telehealth visits, as well as in house. If you live in the RDU/Wake County area, give us a call today and get on track to great mental health!
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