Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a disorder where people tend to have unwanted thoughts, ideas, or sensations (obsessions) that make them feel driven to do something over and over again (also called compulsions). Some individuals may do the same thing over and over again to make life easier (for example, a person may consistently place their toothbrush near the sink to easily brush their teeth the next morning), but this has been shown to be quite different to the type of repetition experienced by those with OCD. The repetitions experienced by people who suffer from OCD may cause them great distress if they can’t follow through with them – and that’s a major differentiating factor between having or not having the disorder. In addition, many people associate OCD with excessive cleaning or checking the door, knocking a certain number of times, etc. However, OCD is not just physical compulsions – it can involve other actions as well.
For example, a person who struggles with moral OCD obsessions may constantly wonder whether or not they are truly a good person. Due to these intruding thoughts, that person may battle with themselves as to whether or not they are morally justified even though they may have told a lie when they were a kid, or recently did something considered rather “immoral”. Some people with OCD may even start seeking reassurance from spiritual authoritative figures, such as priests, to let them know whether or not they’re being a good person. The symptoms of OCD may sound strange or silly, but they aren’t – and they should be taken very seriously because they truly do impact a person’s daily life.
Rumination is also a form of OCD. With rumination, a person can’t stop thinking about a particular thought or concern. For example, a person with a moral OCD may think to themselves constantly, “Is what I did moral and just?” With this, a person can become incredibly discomforted by the idea that they may indeed be a “bad” person, even if they hadn’t done anything that is considered morally wrong by society’s standards.
There are many types of OCD – and so each person could experience something a bit different than the other – but OCD is truly the umbrella term for it all. It’s also important to note that OCD can be more than physical compulsions – intrusive thoughts and mental checking are also acts of OCD.
Caregivers (including parents, siblings, extended family members, friends, etc.) of people with OCD may feel they need to reassure their loved one with OCD because of all the worrying and rumination that tends to come with this disorder. If a person with OCD fears something, in particular, a loved one may even go out of their way to help them avoid it – if, for example, a person believes that buses and trains are the most contaminated public areas, a loved one may purposefully find other modes for transportation – even if the options aren’t convenient. Family members may also help ease a person’s anxiety by cleaning something for them or moving objects that may peak their anxiety. At the moment, this can greatly help reduce a person’s worry – but in the long run, family members may find themselves perpetuating the symptoms of OCD.
The problem with this, for family members, is often that they can feel resentful of the fact that their loved one isn’t improving in OCD conditions. What needs to truly happen for these individuals is that they need to seek help from professional treatment at Avalon Malibu – and if their OCD symptoms are combined with substance abuse, daily life can become even more challenging.
OCD can be difficult to treat, but medication is often used to help ease some of the symptoms experienced with this type of disorder. The goal, at least initially, is to help relieve some of the anxiety experienced – but other forms of treatment can be beneficial too, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or mindfulness/meditation for OCD. In many cases, it can be helpful for a person with OCD to dig deep into their childhood habits and how/when they began developing these symptoms. Several questions can then be asked:
- What childhood experiences contributed to your OCD experienced today?
- Which OCD qualities are adaptive, and which are maladaptive?
- How does each of the symptoms of OCD that you experience affect your daily life? Consider both the positives and the negatives here.
- What OCD tendencies seem to have worsened over time and why do you think that is?
These are just a few questions that can really help people gain some insight into their OCD habits so they can begin taking positive steps towards change.
If you’re ready to develop the tools you need to strengthen your mind, body, and spirit and work through OCD and addiction recovery more effectively, speak with a professional at True Recovery today. Your journey hasn’t ended – in fact, it has just begun.
For more information on recovery and anyone seeking help with mental health challenges, addiction, and substance use problems, please call True Recovery at (844) 744-8783 or visit us online.