Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

November 12, 2012

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

People who suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder have thoughts which are so compulsive and obsessive it interferes with their everyday lives and affects relationships with family and friends.

Sufferers of obsessive compulsive disorder report feelings of helplessness and isolation. Signs of this disorder appear as irrational and obsessive with compulsive behavior such as repetition and rituals which the patient is unable to stop or control. For some it may be checking over twenty times if a switch has been turned off, for others it can be constantly washing their hands until they are red and sore.

The obsessions and impulses race through the mind of patients who have this illness. And the thoughts can be distracting and also disturbing but they are powerless to stop them.

The compulsive behavior is normally carried out to make the obsessions disappear. If contamination is a fear, ritualistic cleaning behavior may develop. Often the compulsive behavior leads to anxiety as they become more and more time-consuming.

Below is a list of the categories many sufferers of obsessive compulsive disorder fall into:

Constantly checking whether a door is locked or an electrical item is switched off. This is associated with danger or harm occurring if this ritual is not carried out.

Frequently washing their hands until they are sore or cleaning the same area over and over again. These people have a real fear of contamination.

Always doubting themselves or feeling that they have done something wrong is common in sufferers who feel scared all the time. They feel that if these rituals and obsessions are not carried out then they will receive punishment or terrible things will happen to them.

Another category is obsessive behavior relating to the symmetry and order of things. Patients will organize items by colors and numbers and tend to be very superstitious if they do not take part in this ritual.

The patient who compulsively hoards everything which they don’t use or need are fearful that if they throw anything out then something nasty and bad will happen to them.

Obsessive compulsive disorder sufferers tend to have more than one compulsion or obsession but some only have one.

Some patients find the following useful in retraining their thoughts:

Relabel: This involves acknowledging these obsessive, intrusive urges and thoughts are due to OCD. It may help the patient if they say to themselves “I know my hands are not dirty”. And then admit they feel this way because of their compulsive and obsessive behavior.

Reattribute: Be aware that the intrusive and intense thoughts experienced are because of the OCD. This acts as a reminder to let the patient know the urges and thoughts have no real meaning and false messages are being sent from the brain.

Refocus: When a symptom of OCD occurs the patient should turn their thoughts and attention to another form of behavior, even if it is only for a couple of minutes.

Revalue: Patients should accept they may not be able to make the compulsive thoughts disappear. But at the same time they do not have to pay attention to it either.

The following information may be useful to aid patients with obsessive compulsive disorder:

Take part in cognitive behavior therapy sessions and family and group therapies.

Patients should try to recognize and reduce stressful situations.

Take part in 15-30 minutes of exercise every day along with relaxation exercises.

Keep a worry diary because writing down the obsessive thoughts is more difficult than thinking them. This may mean the obsessive and compulsive thoughts disappear sooner.

Be prepared for an obsessive compulsive disorder episode. If the patient’s behavior consists of checking if ovens are switched off or windows are closed then they should be more attentive when turning off switches or windows.

Have a worry time. Allocate up to two periods in a day which is deemed ‘worry time’. Don’t pick a time when it is near bed time. And do not allow any worrying outside this time.

Concentrate on a work-life balance and a healthy diet. These help to allay worries and fears connected to OCD.

Avoid nicotine and alcohol.

Keep in touch with friends and family.

Try to establish a good sleep pattern.

Find out where to join an obsessive compulsive disorder support group.

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