OCD: What Is It? How Is It Treated?

– Posted in: OCD – Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

OCD Washing handsWe all know people who are much more neat, clean and orderly than others. These traits are entirely appropriate in many situations on the job and at home.

In Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) these traits are carried to an extreme and disruptive degree.

People with OCD can spend hours of each day cleaning, tidying, checking, or ordering — to the point where these activities interfere with the rest of their daily lives.


What is OCD?

People who suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder typically suffer from the contamination subtype. These people have irrational fears about touching certain objects that they feel are contaminated.

The sufferers may, in fact, recognize that their fears of touching a public door handle, for example, are irrational. Nevertheless, they can experience severe agitation from such a profound subconscious level that they are unable to function. People with OCD are like Superman when exposed kryptonite.

These people are often perfectionists who are capable of a high quality of desirable skilled labor if their perfectionism is moderate enough.

OCD is a stress-induced disorder. However, unlike other stress-induced disorders, the stress tends to feed off itself infinitely until the sufferer engages in some compulsion that calms them down and exhausts their nervous energy. These ritualistic compulsions are not things that they take pleasure from and are irrationally linked to their perceived benefit.

If the sufferer does not concede and succumb to his compulsions of obsessive cleaning or other rituals, they will fall into a state of severe mental anguish.

The agitation often manifests in the form of ego-dystonic thoughts. These thoughts are the opposite of natural ego-syntonic thoughts that people normally experience. Ego-dystonic thoughts are alien thoughts that seem unnatural and contrary to the type of thoughts that the sufferer would like to experience.

Many of these thoughts are sexual in nature because these are stress triggers that build up the progressive anxiety that feeds off itself. The more stressed out and disgusted that a sufferer is about a thought, the more they will obsess about it and suffer until they give into their ritual compulsions.

There are different types of OCD, however. Some sufferers accept a level of ego-dystonic thinking but minimize it by engaging in endless perfectionism. This reduces the anxiety from building by finding distractions of the mind to focus on.

However, these goals can be never-ending tasks because perfection is an unquantifiable state that only ends when the sufferer feels they have attained it. This can lead to hours and hours of wasted time trying to polish something or refine it to the point of irrelevance.

Treating OCD

The first treatment for people who suffer from OCD is to first understand their condition and why they are falling into the compulsive behaviors and experiencing agitation if they don’t. The second phase of the treatment is to help the sufferers relax.

For many, sex can be a great therapy because it relaxes the mind and can reinforce the type of sexual imagery that the sufferer desires. However, they may notice that the agitation comes back even stronger when they don’t have sex. Sufferers may also obsess over the faithfulness of their partners.

They have to understand how their psychological predispositions are tricking them to obsess over these things and have alternative therapies when relationships problems exist.

Their partners should also understand their OCD compulsions and be able to speak rationally about problems when the sufferer is obsessing.

Taking multi-vitamins that contain niacin or inositol are other natural therapies that can have a calming experience that helps sufferers manage stress.

The difference between leadership and power to help OCD sufferers ultimately turns on their openness to changing. This is because you can lead a horse to water but can’t make him drink.

Exposure Therapy

The other part of managing the perception of contamination is having the sufferer acclimate themselves to the objects they feel are contaminated. But, they should be forced to encounter them as a matter of practicality rather than forced to touch them so that stress and pressure is not built up artificially. The sufferer should be in the most relaxed and stress-free environment as possible to minimize the negative associations of the trigger.

For some people, the OCD feeling of contamination can continue as a matter of sheer discomfort when forced to touch objects. For some sufferers, the reactions may be so real and overwhelming to them that they are not able to bear the therapy.

What Does it All Mean?

There are some medications that can help people with OCD quell their fear, but the best long-term treatment is therapy.

If you have OCD, there are a number of therapies to help you achieve a state of calmness without taking the placebo type medications that are used to essentially sedate sufferers.

Paisley HansonPaisley Hansen is a freelance writer and expert in health, fitness, beauty, and fashion. She is passionate about removing the stigma around mental health and loves writing about mental health awareness. When she isn’t writing she can usually be found reading a good book or hitting the gym.

2 comments… add one
Patience Bailey February 1, 2019, 6:10 am

I am a social worker working with service users with enduring mental health difficulties. I am interested in having awareness/knowledge of various treatments available to OCD sufferers. This will enable me support client who have OCD

Patience Bailey February 1, 2019, 6:20 am

Couple of service users I am working with

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