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OCD, More Than Being Clean

Most people have heard someone say "oh have I OCD" when referencing being clean and organized. Those who have intrusive thoughts and feelings of uncontrollable compulsions hear this as nails on a chalkboard. Intense anxiety and unmanageable repetitive behaviors are distressing and sometimes disabling.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a chronic, and long-lasting disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, intrusive thoughts ("obsessions") and/or behaviors ("compulsions") that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over.

Obsessions are repetitive thoughts, urges, or images that cause anxiety. Common types of obsessions include:

  • Fear of some danger like getting sick, robbed, harmed, or being in an accident

  • Unwanted forbidden or taboo thoughts involving sex, religion, or harming others

  • Having things symmetrical, in perfect order, or perfect

  • Doubts about being liked, accepted or loved

Compulsions are repetitive behaviors that a person with OCD feels the urge to reduce the anxiety of obsessive thoughts.

  • Excessive cleaning sanitizing and/or handwashing

  • Excessive avoidance, mental rituals, or, repetitively overthinking situations

  • Counting, checking, or doing things until it's perfect or "just right"

  • Needing constant reassurance, hyper self-control, or rumination on interactions

OCD is treatable and able to become manageable and possibly healed. The most common method to do so is by reducing the use of compulsions when obsessive thoughts arise. If you experience OCD try these strategies:

  • Accept intrusive thoughts: unwanted and intense thoughts can be scary but analyzing, debating, or trying to force them away only makes them stronger

  • Don't get caught up in being perfect: committing to healing from OCD can be highjacked by being "perfect" at healing.

  • Trust the process: not using compulsions to reduce anxiety from intrusive thoughts is not an easy task. Having courage and commitment when things get worse can be a guiding light toward progress.

  • Seek psychotherapy: self-help can only go so far. Psychotherapy can provide support, encouragement and a space to be challenged.

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