Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a serious mental health condition that affects half a million Australians each year.
When you have OCD you can become obsessed with something or you can have repetitive unwanted thoughts you cannot control. These thoughts cause an extreme desire to repeat certain behaviours. You will be unable to stop yourself acting out your desires, which is a compulsion, to relieve your obsessive thoughts.
Many people double or triple check they locked the house or turned off the heater before leaving. Or have little rituals like wearing their team colours when going to a game or using the sign of the cross when worried. This is often quite normal and is not necessarily a sign of OCD. These things are a matter of personal choice.
But when you have OCD, the rituals are not something you choose to do. You feel compelled to carry them out to stop the intrusive thoughts in your head. They disrupt your daily life. Even though you recognise the thoughts driving your compulsion do not make sense, you are powerless to stop yourself acting on them. Acting out helps to:
Rarely Interacting Affects the Brain
- Keep persistent fears from manifesting
- Relieve the distress caused by the constant invasive thoughts.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Symptoms
There are two main symptoms that characterise OCD—compulsions and obsessions. You can have one or the other or you can have both. Unfortunately these are time consuming and significantly impact your day-to-day life. They can affect you at work and at school. In fact, OCD can prevent you from leaving the house.
You logically know your obsessive thoughts are not true and that acting out your compulsions will not help. But you just cannot help yourself.
Unwanted Obsessive Thoughts
Unwanted obsessive thoughts return no matter how much you try to ignore them. Because of their persistence it makes you feel as if what you are thinking is true, or could come true, if you do not do something to stop them.
Obsessive thoughts can vary but the following are some common themes:
- The need to have certain things aligned or in a certain order or something bad could happen.
- Worried about throwing anything away.
- Obsessing about dirt, germs or getting sick.
- Worrying about hurting someone or yourself.
- Explicit thoughts of violence or sex.
- Worrying about you or your family’s health
- Fearing you will say something obscene or offensive.
- Wondering about your sexual orientation or desires.
Compulsive behaviors are a response to obsessive thoughts. You feel compelled to act them out to relieve the anxiety or to keep your thoughts from coming true. And you may feel the need to repeat the actions over and over again until you feel everything is alright or perfect. It can become a ritual. And, if you make a mistake, you can feel that you need to start over from the beginning. Everything has to be perfect to get relief.
OCD compulsive behaviors can include:
- Constantly seeking others’ reassurance.
- Continually washing your hands, other body parts or objects.
- Needing to have objects aligned in a certain way.
- Continually thinking about what you did to make sure you have not hurt someone.
- Collecting certain things or buying more than one of the same thing.
- Repeating phrases over and over again.
- Hiding things that you may use to hurt someone or yourself.
Causes of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
It is unclear what causes OCD, but a family history could mean you have a chance of also developing the condition.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, some imaging studies of the brain showed that people with OCD had differences in their brain’s subcortical structure and frontal cortex. There appears to be a connection between this and OCD but there are ongoing studies to further understand it. Also there appears to be some evidence of links between how your brain reacts to serotonin and OCD. Serotonin regulates your sleep and moods, and is a neurotransmitter that has other important functions.
Who is at Risk?
While genetics may put you at risk of developing OCD, there are other risk factors:
- Childhood abuse and trauma Studies show there are links between childhood abuse, neglect and trauma and developing OCD.
- High levels of stress. High levels of stress at home, school or work can make OCD symptoms worse or put you at risk.
- A brain injury. Some research shows that OCD symptoms may appear after a brain injury.
- Personality traits. If you have certain personality traits, such as perfectionism, trouble dealing with uncertainty or feel overly responsible for what happens around you, may be factors that put you at risk of OCD.
But, keep in mind, just because you may be at risk, it does not mean you will develop OCD. There are people who have no known risk factors that develop OCD.
OCD can also occur in conjunction with other mental health conditions such as:
- Eating disorders
- Major depressive disorder
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
- Social anxiety disorder
- Tourette syndrome.
Research shows that around 90% of people with OCD also have another mental health condition, with anxiety of some sort the most common.
Tips to Help You
The two best ways to deal with OCD is therapy and self-care. Here are some tips that may help you.
Anxiety causes your body to release too much cortisol. While it can be good in moderation, it can be harmful when you get too much. Get regular exercise to keep your cortisol levels under control when you are anxious.. Exercise has multiple benefits including keeping you in good shape and reducing anxiety.
Eat Well and Regularly
While it is important to eat a healthy diet, it is also important to eat regularly. Your blood sugar drops when you are hungry. This can make you irritable and tired. Make sure you start the day with breakfast. And replace large meals at lunch and tea time with several small meals during the day.
Try to eat:
- Fruits and vegetables high in complex carbohydrates and whole grains that work to maintain blood sugar levels.
- Proteins such as meat, eggs and beans that help keep your body stay better balanced.
- Seeds and nuts that are full of healthy nutrients.
Avoid caffeine such as coffee, tea and soft drinks. These can make you more anxious.
Take your Medication
If you are taking regular prescription medication, avoid skipping any doses for it could cause your OCD symptoms to resurface. While it may seem like commonsense, it is important to take you medication when you should and in the right dose. Also avoid alcohol and illicit drugs for they may counter interact with any medication. They may also make your OCD and anxiety worse as they are stimulants.
Make sure you talk to your doctor if you are going to take any other medication, including over-the-counter drugs and vitamins. And if yourmedication is causing side effects, talk to your GP instead of stopping your medication.
Create a Good Sleep Routine
When you are anxious, it can make it hard to sleep. But when you are not sleeping well, it can be hard on your mental health. Instead of going to bed at any time expecting to go to sleep, create a good sleep routine. Turn off all your screens at least half an hour before going to bed. Read a book while listening to relaxing music instead. Make sure the temperature in your bedroom is not too hot or cold, and there is a low level of noise to help you go to sleep and stay that way throughout the night.
Ask for Help
OCD can be difficult to deal with all alone. Reach out. Seek support. Pick up the phone or find a support group online. It can help lower your anxiety to voice your thoughts out loud or in a support group. It helps give you a new perspective.
Relaxation is Vital
It is vital to take time out to relax. But your body cannot do this if it does not know how. Use techniques such as meditation and yoga, walking in the natural environment, cooking, reading or drawing so your body knows how to be calm. Once you find what works for you, spend at least 30 minutes daily relaxing.
Be your own Cheerleader
Be your own cheerleader. Celebrate all the victories. Living with OCD is difficult and it takes time to learn how to manage it. Yes, there will be times where you will have setbacks but there will also be victories. So it is really important to celebrate even the smallest success along the way.
Blissiree Pty Ltd
OCD can turn your life into a living nightmare. Unable to turn off obsessive thoughts that compel you to act in certain ways can make you extremely anxious. It makes you feel powerless. You may feel you have no control of the anxiety that drives you to think and act in this way. It can affect all parts of your life including your relationships. There are things you can do to help manage your OCD, but this is not always easy without help.
The Blissiree Pty Ltd is pioneering a new technique. A natural treatment that may help you manage yourOCD. It only requires for you to relax. Highly trained facilitators help you learn how to manage your anxiety. This may help you deal with intrusive thoughts and compulsions. You may even notice an improvement after the first session.
If your OCD is affecting your daily life, it is time to turn it around. Time to do something positive. Seek help. Take back control. You do not have to go through it alone. The sooner you get help, the sooner you can start taking good care of your mental health. And get back to enjoying life.
If OCD interferes with everyday life, reach out to our professionals. When you are not coping, contact us. We can talk to you about how to get your life back on track. But if you reach a crisis point, call us immediately. We are here to support you.
We can work with you over the phone, via Skype or in our Spa.Bookin today for my special introductory offer of just $49 (private health rebates apply) so you may turn your life around. We aim to help you cope with any mental health challenges and the symptoms of OCD that affects your life. Our facilitators may help you manage your OCD better so you start enjoying life again.
Let me Help you Manage Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
My Emotional Empowerment Program has helped many people for more than a decade. My aim is to help you naturally deal with OCD better so you may live a more normal life. This may give you a new hope for the future. A future filled with happiness, peace and contentment in weeks not years so you can start living life to the fullest.
Book a free 25-minute telehealth consultation with Blissiree Pty Ltd founder, Terri Bowman. Or discover a seamless way that may help you manage your emotional and mental health by becoming a member. It will give you access to more than 100 audio programs that may help you to live an inspired life.
Check out my latest documentary— Blue Rain – PTSD The Silent Suffering. Follow the lives of four people as I work with them to improve their mental health. It will give you good insight into what it is possible.
What are you waiting for? Try us now. You have nothing to lose.