Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or OCD is a common, chronic mental health condition. About 2.3% of the population suffers from it, equating to over 3.3 million people in the USA alone. It is more prevalent than other mental health problems such as panic disorder or schizophrenia and in its most severe forms can be severely debilitating.
Those who have OCD usually suffer from anxiety-causing thoughts. This could be a fear of germs which elicits the compulsion to constantly clean or be wary of what is touched. Another OCD symptom is having to keep things in perfect order, such as place mats on a table or ornaments on a shelf. It can involve, in some cases, thoughts of sexual or religious taboo and can sometimes lead to aggression either to the self or to others.
Because of its chronic nature there is no cure in the same sense as a condition such as depression can be conquered. The person who suffers from OCD often has to fight a constant battle with their behaviour and the anxiety it causes if they don’t indulge it.
Treating OCD Through CBT
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is a treatment that tries to change your behaviour and the way that you look at it. Essentially it encourages you to take a deep breath and face your fear. This is usually done gradually and can help sufferers to get their anxiety under control. This is done in a safe environment and takes place at the OCD sufferer’s own pace. Even if your OCD has a relatively low impact on your daily life, then CBT is the perfect choice to help you keep in control.
Medication for OCD
When a condition is more severe, CBT and evasion therapy are usually combined with medication. This is something called a serotonin reuptake inhibitor or SSRI which is a kind of antidepressant but which works will in many cases of OCD. The medication can be taken for up to a 12-month period after which your condition will normally be reviewed. For the most severe cases, there may have to be several years of carefully controlled medication involved.
How to Live with OCD
For most sufferers, it’s a question of how to live with this condition. There may be periods after treatment when you fall back into your OCD ways and it’s a battle again to build yourself up again. The good news is that there is plenty of support out there to make sure you keep going.
Understand your OCD: Most people live with their problem without looking too deeply into it. Once you are diagnosed with OCD you can begin to get control of it, either with the help of CBT or through medication. Doing your research also gives you access to plenty of knowledge, support and advice – make sure you use it.
Be honest and open: While you might be embarrassed about your OCD, it’s important to be open and honest about how it works and how you feel. Many people who suffer from OCD bottle up everything and can start feeling depressed – left unchecked this can sometimes lead to suicidal thoughts. Being as open as possible not only helps you, it helps other people, including friends and family, understand.
If you have an OCD that you don’t want to discuss with your immediate loved ones, you need to seek professional help such as therapist who you can feel comfortable talking to. This can be a big undertaking for the OCD sufferer who has physical, harmful or sexual compulsive thoughts but it can take a huge weight off their shoulders if they can confide in someone as start making changes to their lives.
There’s no doubt that OCD is one of the more difficult mental health problems to deal with but you should never think you are alone. It is a constant battle and there will be times when you feel the wheels are coming off your recovery but, with the right support in place and the tools that are now available such as CBT, there is plenty that you can do.