Tweet Share Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder OCD is a disorder of the brain where people experience obsessive thoughts, images, ideas or impulses - and they can't get past them. The day-to-day existence for severe OCD sufferers is dire. Untreated, they lead lives of self-punishment, fear and isolation that can result in job loss, broken families, bankruptcy and in some cases death.
But if you suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder OCDobsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors become so consuming they interfere with your daily life. But help is available. With treatment and self-help strategies, you can break free of the unwanted thoughts and irrational urges and take back control of your life.
What is obsessive-compulsive disorder OCD? Obsessive-compulsive disorder OCD is an anxiety disorder characterized by uncontrollable, unwanted thoughts and ritualized, repetitive behaviors you feel compelled to perform. If you have OCD, you probably recognize that your obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors are irrational—but even so, you feel unable to resist them and break free.
Like a needle getting stuck on an old record, OCD causes the brain to get stuck on a particular thought or urge. While you don't derive any sense of pleasure from performing these repetitive behaviors, they may offer some passing relief for the anxiety generated by the obsessive thoughts.
You may try to avoid situations that trigger or worsen your symptoms or self-medicate with alcohol or drugs. OCD obsessions and compulsions Obsessions are involuntary thoughts, images, or impulses that occur over and over again in your mind.
Unfortunately, these obsessive thoughts are often disturbing and distracting. Compulsions are behaviors or rituals that you feel driven to act out again and again.
Usually, compulsions are performed in an attempt to make obsessions go away. However, the relief never lasts. In fact, the obsessive thoughts usually come back stronger. And the compulsive rituals and behaviors often end up causing anxiety themselves as they become more demanding and time-consuming.
This is the vicious cycle of OCD. Most people with OCD fall into one of the following categories: Washers are afraid of contamination. They usually have cleaning or hand-washing compulsions.
Checkers repeatedly check things oven turned off, door locked, etc. Counters and arrangers are obsessed with order and symmetry. They may have superstitions about certain numbers, colors, or arrangements. Hoarders fear that something bad will happen if they throw anything away. They compulsively hoard things that they don't need or use.
OCD signs and symptoms Just because you have obsessive thoughts or perform compulsive behaviors does NOT mean that you have obsessive-compulsive disorder. With OCD, these thoughts and behaviors cause tremendous distress, take up a lot of time at least one hour per dayand interfere with your daily life and relationships.
Most people with obsessive-compulsive disorder have both obsessions and compulsions, but some people experience just one or the other. Common obsessive thoughts in OCD include: Fear of being contaminated by germs or dirt or contaminating others Fear of losing control and harming yourself or others Intrusive sexually explicit or violent thoughts and images Excessive focus on religious or moral ideas Fear of losing or not having things you might need Order and symmetry: OCD self-help tip 1: One of the most powerful strategies is to eliminate the compulsive behaviors and rituals that keep your obsessions going.
It might seem smart to avoid the situations that trigger your obsessive thoughts, but the more you avoid them, the scarier they feel.
Instead, expose yourself to your OCD triggers, then try to resist or delay the urge to complete your relief-seeking compulsive ritual. If resistance gets to be too hard, try to reduce the amount of time you spend on your ritual.
By anticipating your compulsive urges before they arise, you can help to ease them. For example, if your compulsive behavior involves checking that doors are locked, windows closed, or appliances turned off, try to lock the door or turn off the appliance with extra attention the first time.
Create a solid mental picture and then make a mental note. When you're experiencing OCD thoughts and urges, try shifting your attention to something else. You could exercise, jog, walk, listen to music, read, surf the web, play a video game, make a phone call, or knit.
The important thing is to do something you enjoy for at least 15 minutes, in order to delay your response to the obsessive thought or compulsion. At the end of the delaying period, reassess the urge.
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Around , people in the UK are estimated to have OCD, with around one in 50 experiencing it at some point in their lives. This is one woman's story.