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Blog > OCD Management
Licensed Professional Counselor
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OCD is a type of anxiety disorder distinguished by intrusive and frequent obsessions and repetitive and ritualistic behaviors. People with OCD believe they are driven to do things to relieve stress and feel better. This is very difficult for them because the urges will come back again. This disorder is often accompanied by shame or other feelings of embarrassment related to the symptoms of the condition.
OCD is experienced in obsessions and compulsions.
An obsession is a continued thought, image, or urge that enters the mind and generates distress. Some common obsessions are fear of contamination, fear of harm occurring such as forgetting to turn off a stove, excessive concern about exactness such as placing objects in a particular direction or order, excessive focus on orderliness, perfectionism. Some anxiety may be related to unwelcome thoughts including anger, sexual, religious content, hurting self or others, or inappropriate behaviors in public.
A compulsion is a recurrent behavior or mental act done to provide relief created by the distress of the obsessions. Some common compulsions are cleaning or hand washing excessively, repeatedly checking stoves or other objects, repeating words or phrases, mental rituals, arranging objects, counting, hoarding, continued asking for reassurance.
OCD is believed to consist of four basic parts: obsessions, anxiety, compulsions, and temporary relief. It becomes a vicious cycle because once you get pulled into it, it gains momentum and intensity, making it even more difficult to get out.
The main symptoms of OCD are obsessions and compulsions that interfere with normal activities. Symptoms usually begin gradually and vary throughout life.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has been shown to help in treating OCD. It is important to learn the skills of how to direct your thoughts and move forward with a physical action to avoid being trapped in the OCD cycle.
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OCD is a disorder in which a person has recurring unwanted thoughts or sensations that make them feel driven to do something repetitively (the compulsions). It has been suggested that OCD symptoms are in these main categories: cleaning and contamination, symmetry and ordering, forbidden or harmful thoughts and impulses. These behaviors take time and joy from a person’s life. The person does these behaviors because they believe they cannot stop. These behaviors infer with all areas of the person’s life.
Obsessive thoughts may include worries about yourself or other people getting hurt or you hurting others, suspicion about a partner or others without validation, or constant awareness of body sensations. Compulsive habits may include doing tasks in a specific order every time or doing them a certain number of times, needing to count things such as steps or adding car tag numbers or fear of touching doorknobs or other public objects, excessive cleaning or handwashing.
The person believes they cannot control the thoughts or behaviors, even though they recognize these behaviors are excessive. They do not get pleasure from these rituals or behaviors; however, they may feel brief relief from the anxiety caused by the thoughts. They are aware that these behaviors create problems and increase the long-term anxiety in their lives. OCD creates problems for the person with this disorder and for the people that are interacting with them on a daily basis. The person with OCD will often attempt to justify and defend their behaviors. Sometimes they are embarrassed or ashamed when others acknowledge their OCD behaviors.
OCD is a common disorder that affects people of all ages in all cultures. The causes of OCD are unknown; however, there are some believed risk factors: genetics, brain structure and functioning and environment. Other OCD related conditions may include: body dysmorphic disorder (your looks), hoarding disorder, picking at your skin, physical illness, olfactory reference syndrome (body odor or how you smell) or tic disorders.
Psychotherapy, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, can be effective for treating OCD symptoms. The person with OCD will begin to feel more confident about being able to control the obsessive thinking and the compulsive behaviors by learning skills of how to manage this disorder. Learn to stop the obsessive thoughts early on and then control the urges.
I know that is not an easy task. However, I do believe it is possible with continued practice of the skills. You get to decide if you are worth the effort to manage this disorder.
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Lisa H. Lang Ph.D. is a licensed professional counselor (LPC) & marriage and family therapist (LMFT) located in Flower Mound, TX with over 30 years experience. She is a Certified Cognitive Behavioral Therapist and life coach offering psychotherapy, hypnosis, and other solutions to those seeking counseling. Dr. Lang is conveniently located to residents of Flower Mound, Lewisville, Carrollton, Southlake, Grapevine, Coppell, and the Dallas/Fort Worth area.