Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental illness that affects millions of people worldwide. It’s one of the most common mental disorders but also one of the most difficult to deal with, as OCD symptoms can cause severe distress and interfere with daily life, work, and relationships.
Most people who have OCD realize they’re doing something that seems strange or irrational, but they feel compelled to do it anyway. People with OCD may clean their homes for hours at a time or repeat certain actions over and over again, like washing their hands. They might become anxious or stressed when they can’t complete these behaviors, which can make them feel even more compelled to do them.
In fact, the OCD prevalence is so massive that according to studies, 1% to 2% of the world’s population is suffering from OCD. With this estimate, there would be between 100 million and 150 million people living with OCD around the globe today.
While the numbers can be depressing and symptoms can be even more depressing, there are some effective ways available that can help manage symptoms so that you can live your best life.
Medical treatment is one of the most effective ways to deal with OCD. Medical treatment can include both OCD therapy and medication, which can be used alone or together. You may want to discuss your options with your doctor, or you may want to try a self-help program first.
The most common type of therapy is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which focuses on changing your thoughts and behaviors. The goal is to reduce anxiety by learning new ways of coping with stressors and triggers through exposure therapy, response prevention, and mindfulness techniques.
You may also take medication for OCD. This can be helpful for some people, not others, as it depends on what works best for your specific case. Medication can be used alone or in conjunction with other types of treatment, such as therapy or holistic approaches like exercise or meditation.
In fact, the International OCD Foundation revealed some optimistic effects of medications on OCD patients. Medication or Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) will benefit about seven out of ten OCD patients. Those who benefit from medication often have a 40–60% reduction in OCD symptoms.
Acknowledge the Illness
One of the ways in which you can reduce or at least manage your symptoms of OCD is by acknowledging the illness.
It’s not easy to admit that you have a problem, but it’s a necessary step in treating it.
You may be afraid that acknowledging your condition will make your symptoms worse or cause you to be ridiculed by others. But in fact, being open and honest about your OCD can help you get the treatment and support you need.
If you have OCD, it can be hard to tell others about it because you’re worried about how they’ll react. But if you’re honest about what’s going on inside your head, other people will understand more about what you’re experiencing and can offer support.
By acknowledging your illness, you are giving yourself permission to seek help and treatment – something that many people find incredibly difficult when they don’t realize they have OCD in the first place. If you feel like you might have OCD and aren’t sure what to do next, we encourage you to talk with a therapist or doctor about your symptoms so they can help develop a plan for treatment and recovery.
As per BeyondOCD.org, there are “The Five Acceptances” that an OCD patient needs to understand and implement to bring about the change. These acceptances are:
- Unconditional self-acceptance
- Unconditional acceptance of others
- Accepting your illness and its nature
- Accepting the nature of the task of therapy
- Accepting the nature of the task of ongoing recovery
Use Mindfulness Techniques to Combat Obsessive Thoughts
There are many ways to deal with obsessive thoughts, but one of the most effective is practicing mindfulness.
Mindfulness is a practice that involves observing your thoughts and feelings while staying in the present moment rather than getting caught up in them. It can be a difficult skill to master, but when you’re able to use this technique to combat obsessive thoughts, it can make all the difference in your ability to cope with OCD.
Here are some tips on how to use mindfulness techniques to combat obsessive thoughts:
- Pay attention to your breath as it moves in and out of your body
- Focus on what you’re doing right now – what’s happening around you? What are you wearing? What does the room smell like? What do your hands feel like at this moment? How does it feel to sit here? What sounds do you hear?
- Try not to worry about whether or not your mind will drift off into an obsessive thought which is one of the hardest parts. Just keep bringing yourself back over and over again until it feels like a habit.
As per research, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is beneficial for unmedicated OCD with mild to moderate symptoms.
Everyone has their own way of dealing with OCD. It’s a condition that is closely tied to your personality, so what works for one person might not work for another.
The most important thing is to keep trying different techniques until you find something that works for you. This may take a while, but it’s worth it in the end.
The more you practice your coping strategies and the more you engage in your treatment plan, the better off you’ll be.