Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) - HelpGuide.org (2022)

anxiety

Are obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors interfering with your daily life? Explore the symptoms, treatment, and self-help for OCD.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) - HelpGuide.org (1)

What is obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)?

It’s normal, on occasion, to go back and double-check that the iron is unplugged or worry that you might be contaminated by germs, or even have an occasional unpleasant, violent thought. But if you suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors become so consuming they interfere with your daily life. OCD is an anxiety disorder characterized by uncontrollable, unwanted thoughts and ritualized, repetitive behaviors you feel compelled to perform. If you have OCD, you probably recognize that your obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors are irrational—but even so, you feel unable to resist them and break free.

Like a needle getting stuck on an old record, OCD causes the brain to get stuck on a particular thought or urge. For example, you may check the stove 20 times to make sure it’s really turned off because you’re terrified of burning down your house, or wash your hands until they’re scrubbed raw for fear of germs. While you don’t derive any sense of pleasure from performing these repetitive behaviors, they may offer some passing relief for the anxiety generated by the obsessive thoughts.

You may try to avoid situations that trigger or worsen your symptoms or self-medicate with alcohol or drugs. But while it can seem like there’s no escaping your obsessions and compulsions, there are plenty of things you can do to break free of unwanted thoughts and irrational urges and regain control of your thoughts and actions.

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OCD obsessions and compulsions

Obsessions are involuntary thoughts, images, or impulses that occur over and over again in your mind. You don’t want to have these ideas, but you can’t stop them. Unfortunately, these obsessive thoughts are often disturbing and distracting.

Compulsions are behaviors or rituals that you feel driven to act out again and again. Usually, compulsions are performed in an attempt to make obsessions go away. For example, if you’re afraid of contamination, you might develop elaborate cleaning rituals. However, the relief never lasts. In fact, the obsessive thoughts usually come back stronger. And the compulsive rituals and behaviors often end up causing anxiety themselves as they become more demanding and time-consuming. This is the vicious cycle of OCD.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) - HelpGuide.org (2)

Most people with OCD fall into one of the following categories:

  • Washers are afraid of contamination. They usually have cleaning or hand-washing compulsions.
  • Checkers repeatedly check things (oven turned off, door locked, etc.) that they associate with harm or danger.
  • Doubters and sinners are afraid that if everything isn’t perfect or done just right something terrible will happen, or they will be punished.
  • Counters and arrangers are obsessed with order and symmetry. They may have superstitions about certain numbers, colors, or arrangements.

OCD and hoarding

Hoarding used to be considered a category of OCD. While estimates suggest that up to 25 percent of people with OCD experience compulsive hoarding, it can also be a sign of a separate condition, hoarding disorder.

Hoardersfear that something bad will happen if they throw anything away and hoard things that they don’t need or use. However, there are distinctions between OCD-related hoarding and hoarding disorder.

OCD-related hoarders tend not to accumulate so many possessions that their homes become unmanageable. Hoarding for them is usually unwelcome and distressing—a way to manage intrusive thoughts

(Video) Understanding Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Someone with hoarding disorder, on the other hand, experiences both positive and negative emotions. Acquiring possessions provides pleasure rather than simply satisfying a compulsion and they being surrounded by their things provides comfort. The distress in hoarding disorder stems more from the consequences of hoarding—the clutter and unsafe environment—along with the anxiety of having to discard possessions.

Read: Hoarding Disorder: Help for Hoarders

OCD signs and symptoms

Just because you have obsessive thoughts or perform compulsive behaviors does NOT mean that you have obsessive-compulsive disorder. With OCD, these thoughts and behaviors cause tremendous distress, take up a lot of time (at least one hour per day), and interfere with your daily life and relationships.

Most people with obsessive-compulsive disorder have both obsessions and compulsions, but some people experience just one or the other.

Common obsessive thoughts in OCD include:

  • Fear of being contaminated by germs or dirt or contaminating others.
  • Fear of losing control and harming yourself or others.
  • Intrusive sexually explicit or violent thoughts and images.
  • Excessive focus on religious or moral ideas.
  • Fear of losing or not having things you might need.
  • Order and symmetry: the idea that everything must line up “just right”.
  • Superstitions; excessive attention to something considered lucky or unlucky.

Common compulsive behaviors in OCD include:

  • Excessive double-checking of things, such as locks, appliances, and switches.
  • Repeatedly checking in on loved ones to make sure they’re safe.
  • Counting, tapping, repeating certain words, or doing other senseless things to reduce anxiety.
  • Spending a lot of time washing or cleaning.
  • Ordering or arranging things “just so”.
  • Praying excessively or engaging in rituals triggered by religious fear.
  • Accumulating “junk” such as old newspapers or empty food containers.

OCD symptoms in children

While the onset of obsessive-compulsive disorder usually occurs during adolescence or young adulthood, younger children sometimes have symptoms that look like OCD. However, the symptoms of other disorders, such as ADHD, autism, and Tourette’s syndrome, can also look like obsessive-compulsive disorder, so a thorough medical and psychological exam is essential before any diagnosis is made.

OCD self-help tip 1: Identify your triggers

The first step to managing your OCD symptoms is to recognize the triggers—the thoughts or situations—that bring on your obsessions and compulsions. Record a list of the triggers you experience each day and the obsessions they provoke. Rate the intensity of the fear or anxiety you experienced in each situation and then the compulsions or mental strategies you used to ease your anxiety. For example, if you have a fear of being contaminated by germs, touching a railing at the mall might generate a fear intensity of 3, whereas touching the restroom floor in the mall might generate a 10 and require 15 minutes of hand washing to ease your anxiety.

Keeping track of your triggers can help you anticipate your urges. And by anticipating your compulsive urges before they arise, you can help to ease them. For example, if your compulsive behavior involves checking that doors are locked, windows closed, or appliances turned off, try to lock the door or turn off the appliance with extra attention the first time.

  • Create a solid mental picture and then make a mental note. Tell yourself, “The window is now closed,” or “I can see that the oven is turned off.”
  • When the urge to check arises later, you will find it easier to re-label it as “just an obsessive thought.”

Identifying and recording your triggers also provides an important tool for learning to resist your OCD compulsions.

Tip 2: Learn to resist OCD compulsions

It might seem smart to avoid the situations that trigger your obsessive thoughts, but the more you avoid them, the scarier they feel. Conversely, by repeatedly exposing yourself to your OCD triggers, you can learn to resist the urge to complete your compulsive rituals. This is known as exposure and response prevention (ERP) and is a mainstay of professional therapy for OCD.

ERP requires you to repeatedly expose yourself to the source of your obsession—and then refrain from the compulsive behavior you’d usually perform to reduce your anxiety. If you are a compulsive hand washer, for example, that could mean touching the door handle in a public restroom and then not allowing yourself to wash your hands. As you sit with the anxiety, the urge to wash your hands will gradually begin to go away on its own. In this way, you’ll learn that you don’t need the ritual to get rid of your anxiety and that you have some control over your obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors.

Tackling your biggest fears straight off might be too extreme, so ERP exercises start with you confronting lesser fears and then working your way up the “fear ladder.” Confront those situations that generate a low fear intensity and once you’re able to tolerate the anxiety you can move on to the next, more difficult exposure challenge.

Building your fear ladder

Think about your end goal (to be able to use a public restroom without fear of contamination, for example, or to drive to work without stopping to check if you’ve hit something) and then break down the steps needed to reach that goal. Using the information you recorded in identifying your triggers, make a list of situations from the least scary to the most scary. The first step should make you slightly anxious, but not so frightened that you’re too intimidated to try it.

Here’s a sample fear ladder:

Goal: To drive to work without stopping to check if you’ve hit something
Fear intensitySituation
10Drive all the way to work without stopping to check if you’ve hit something
8Don’t phone your spouse to check they got to work safely
6Leave the house, lock the front door and walk away without checking
4Turn off the stove and leave the room without checking
2Put milk in the refrigerator without checking the top is secure

Using your fear ladder

Work your way up the ladder.Start with the first step and don’t move on until you start to feel more comfortable doing it. If possible, stay in the situation long enough for your anxiety to decrease. The longer you expose yourself to your OCD trigger, the more you’ll get used to it and the less anxious you’ll feel when you face it the next time. Once you’ve done a step on several separate occasions without feeling too much anxiety, you can move on to the next step. If a step is too hard, break it down into smaller steps or go slower.

As you’re resisting your compulsions, focus on the feelings of anxiety. Instead of trying to distract yourself, allow yourself to feel anxious as you resist the urge to engage in your compulsive behavior. You may believe that the discomfort you’re feeling will continue until you engage in the compulsion. But if you stick with it, the anxiety will fade. And you’ll realize that you’re not going to “lose control” or have some kind of breakdown if you don’t perform the ritual.

Practice.The more often you practice, the quicker your progress will be. But don’t rush. Go at a pace that you can manage without feeling overwhelmed. And remember: you will feel uncomfortable and anxious as you face your fears, but the feelings are only temporary. Each time you expose yourself to your trigger, your anxiety should lessen and you’ll start to realize that you have more control (and less to fear) than you thought.

Tip 3: Challenge obsessive thoughts

Everyone has troubling thoughts or worries from time to time. But obsessive-compulsive disorder causes the brain to get stuck on a particular anxiety-provoking thought, causing it to play over and over in your head. The more unpleasant or distressing the thought, the more likely you are to try to repress it. But repressing thoughts is almost impossible and trying usually has the opposite effect, causing the unpleasant thought to resurface more frequently and become more bothersome.

(Video) OCD Myths Busted!

As with resisting compulsions, you can overcome disturbing, obsessive thoughts by learning to tolerate them through exposure and response prevention exercises. It’s also important to remind yourself that just because you have an unpleasant thought, that doesn’t make you a bad person. Your thoughts are just thoughts. Even unwanted, intrusive, or violent thoughts are normal—it’s only the importance you attach to them that turns them into damaging obsessions.

The following strategies can help you see your thoughts for what they are and regain a sense of control over your anxious mind.

Write down your obsessive thoughts. Keep a pad and pencil on you, or type on a smartphone. When you begin to obsess, write down all your thoughts or compulsions.

  • Keep writing as the OCD urges continue, aiming to record exactly what you’re thinking, even if you’re repeating the same phrases or the same urges over and over.
  • Writing it all down will help you see just how repetitive your obsessions are.
  • Writing down the same phrase or urge hundreds of times will help it lose its power.
  • Writing thoughts down is much harder work than simply thinking them, so your obsessive thoughts are likely to disappear sooner.

Create an OCD worry period. Rather than trying to suppress obsessions or compulsions, develop the habit of rescheduling them.

  • Choose one or two 10-minute “worry periods” each day, time you can devote to obsessing.
  • During your worry period, focus only on negative thoughts or urges. Don’t try to correct them. At the end of the worry period, take a few calming breaths, let the obsessive thoughts go, and return to your normal activities. The rest of the day, however, is to be designated free of obsessions.
  • When thoughts come into your head during the day, write them down and “postpone” them to your worry period.

Challenge your obsessive thoughts. Use your worry period to challenge negative or intrusive thoughts by asking yourself:

  • What’s the evidence that the thought is true? That it’s not true? Have I confused a thought with a fact?
  • Is there a more positive, realistic way of looking at the situation?
  • What’s the probability that what I’m scared of will actually happen? If the probability is low, what are some more likely outcomes?
  • Is the thought helpful? How will obsessing about it help me and how will it hurt me?
  • What would I say to a friend who had this thought?

Create a tape of your OCD obsessions or intrusive thoughts. Focus on one specific thought or obsession and record it to a tape recorder or smartphone.

  • Recount the obsessive phrase, sentence, or story exactly as it comes into your mind.
  • Play the tape back to yourself, over and over for a 45-minute period each day, until listening to the obsession no longer causes you to feel highly distressed.
  • By continuously confronting your worry or obsession you will gradually become less anxious. You can then repeat the exercise for a different obsession.

Tip 4: Reach out for support

OCD can get worse when you feel powerless and alone, so it’s important to build a strong support system. The more connected you are to other people, the less vulnerable you’ll feel. And just talking to an understanding person about your worries and urges can make them seem less threatening.

Stay connected to family and friends.Obsessions and compulsions can consume your life to the point of social isolation. In turn, social isolation will aggravate your OCD symptoms. It’s important to invest in relating to family and friends. Talking face-to-face about your worries and urges can make them feel less real and less threatening.

Join an OCD support group.You’re not alone in your struggle with OCD, and participating in a support group can be an effective reminder of that. OCD support groups enable you to both share your own experiences and learn from others who are facing the same problems.

Tip 5: Manage stress

While stress doesn’t cause OCD, it can trigger symptoms or make them worse. Physical exercise and connecting with another person face-to-face are two very effective ways to calm your nervous system. You can also:

Quickly self-soothe and relieve anxiety symptoms by making use of one or more of your physical senses—sight, smell, hearing, touch, taste—or movement. You might try listening to a favorite piece of music, looking at a treasured photo, savoring a cup of tea, or stroking a pet.

Practice relaxation techniques. Mindful meditation, yoga, deep breathing, and other relaxation techniques can help lower your overall stress and tension levels and help you manage your urges. For best results, try practicing a relaxation technique regularly.

Tip 6: Make lifestyle changes to ease OCD

A healthy, balanced lifestyle plays a big role in easing anxiety and keeping OCD compulsions, fears, and worry at bay.

Exercise regularly. Exercise is a natural and effective anti-anxiety treatment that helps to control OCD symptoms by refocusing your mind when obsessive thoughts and compulsions arise. For maximum benefit, try to get 30 minutes or more of aerobic activity on most days. Ten minutes several times a day can be as effective as one longer period especially if you pay mindful attention to the movement process.

Get enough sleep. Not only can anxiety and worry cause insomnia, but a lack of sleep can also exacerbate anxious thoughts and feelings. When you’re well rested, it’s much easier to keep your emotional balance, a key factor in coping with anxiety disorders such as OCD.

Avoid alcohol and nicotine. Alcohol temporarily reduces anxiety and worry, but it actually causes anxiety symptoms as it wears off. Similarly, while it may seem that cigarettes are calming, nicotine is actually a powerful stimulant. Smoking leads to higher, not lower, levels of anxiety and OCD symptoms.

Treatment for OCD

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is the most effective treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder and generally involves two components:

  1. Exposure and response prevention, which requires repeated exposure to the source of your obsession, as explained above.
  2. Cognitive therapy, which focuses on the catastrophic thoughts and exaggerated sense of responsibility you feel. A big part of cognitive therapy for OCD is teaching you healthy and effective ways of responding to obsessive thoughts, without resorting to compulsive behavior.

Other OCD treatments

In addition to cognitive-behavioral therapy, the following treatments are also used for OCD:

Medication. Antidepressants are sometimes used in conjunction with therapy for the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder. However, medication alone is rarely effective in relieving the symptoms.

Family Therapy. Since OCD often causes problems in family life and social adjustment, family therapy can help promote understanding of the disorder and reduce family conflicts. It can also motivate family members and teach them how to help their loved one with OCD.

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Group Therapy. Through interaction with fellow OCD sufferers, group therapy provides support and encouragement and decreases feelings of isolation.

Is unresolved trauma playing a role in your OCD?

In some people, OCD symptoms such as compulsive washing or hoarding are ways of coping with trauma. If you have post-traumatic OCD, cognitive approaches may not be effective until underlying traumatic issues are resolved.

How to help someone with OCD

The way you react to your loved one’s OCD symptoms can have a big impact on their outlook and recovery. Negative comments or criticism can make OCD worse, while a calm, supportive environment can help improve the outcome of treatment.

Avoid making personal criticisms. Remember, your loved one’s OCD behaviors are symptoms, not character flaws.

Don’t scold someone with OCD or tell them to stop performing rituals. They can’t comply, and the pressure to stop will only make the behaviors worse.

Be as kind and patient as possible. Each sufferer needs to overcome problems at their own pace. Praise any successful attempt to resist OCD, and focus attention on positive elements in the person’s life.

Do not play along with your loved one’s rituals. Going along with your loved one’s OCD “rules,” or helping with their compulsions or rituals will only reinforce the behavior. Support the person, not their compulsions.

Keep communication positive and clear. Communication is important so you can find a balance between supporting your loved one and standing up to the OCD symptoms and not further distressing your loved one.

Find the humor. Laughing together over the funny side and absurdity of some OCD symptoms can help your loved one become more detached from the disorder. Just make sure your loved one feels respected and in on the joke.

Don’t let OCD take over family life. Sit down as a family and decide how you will work together to tackle your loved one’s symptoms. Try to keep family life as normal as possible and the home a low-stress environment.

Authors: Melinda Smith, M.A., Lawrence Robinson, and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D.

What You Need to Know About Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (PDF) – Including signs, symptoms, and treatment. (International OCD Foundation)

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in Children – Including common symptoms and behaviors. (KidsHealth)

Build a Fear Ladder – How to create and use fear ladders. (Anxiety Canada Youth)

(Video) Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – Explanatory video from Khan Academy and American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (YouTube)

Hotlines and support

In the U.S.: Call the NAMI Helplineat 1-800-950-6264. Or Find a Therapist.

UK: Call Anxiety UKat 03444 775 774.

Canada: Find services at Anxiety Canada.

Australia: Call the SANE HelpCentreat 1800 18 7263.

India: Call the Vandrevala Foundationat 1860 2662 345 or 1800 2333 330.

In other countries: Access a global database of OCD resources from the International OCD Foundation.

Last updated: August 29, 2022

FAQs

Can I treat OCD by myself? ›

Yes, to give a simple answer. Although lots of people find medication (usually serotonin reuptake inhibitors or clomipramine) helpful in making their obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) symptoms less severe, there are certainly ways to feel better without medication.

How do you stop OCD thoughts naturally? ›

6 Best Strategies to Combat Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  1. Practice mindfulness to manage stress. Two key characteristics of OCD are high anxiety and the presence of intrusive thoughts. ...
  2. Get plenty of exercise. ...
  3. Sleep well and enough. ...
  4. Avoid nicotine and alcohol. ...
  5. Reach out to family and friends. ...
  6. Find an ERP therapist.
7 Jan 2021

What are 5 of the main symptoms of OCD? ›

Symptoms
  • Fear of contamination or dirt.
  • Doubting and having difficulty tolerating uncertainty.
  • Needing things orderly and symmetrical.
  • Aggressive or horrific thoughts about losing control and harming yourself or others.
  • Unwanted thoughts, including aggression, or sexual or religious subjects.
11 Mar 2020

What is the root cause of OCD? ›

Experts aren't sure of the exact cause of OCD. Genetics, brain abnormalities, and the environment are thought to play a role. It often starts in the teens or early adulthood. But, it can also start in childhood.

Which drug is best for OCD? ›

Antidepressants approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat OCD include: Clomipramine (Anafranil) for adults and children 10 years and older. Fluoxetine (Prozac) for adults and children 7 years and older. Fluvoxamine for adults and children 8 years and older.

What medication helps OCD? ›

Medications for OCD
  • Clomipramine (Anafranil)
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem)
  • Fluvoxamine (Luvox)
  • Paroxetine (Paxil)
  • Sertraline (Zoloft)
  • Citalopram (Celexa)
  • Escitalopram (Lexapro)

What are the warning signs of OCD? ›

Key warning signs of OCD include:
  • excessively seeking reassurance.
  • resisting change.
  • spending too much time completing things, getting dressed or eating a meal (longer than would be expected for the child's age)
  • redoing tasks.
  • refusing to touch objects with bare hands.
  • excessively washing hands, body and so on.
19 Jul 2016

Can a vitamin deficiency cause OCD? ›

Vitamin B12 deficiency is a commonly overlooked cause of psychiatric and even some neurological illnesses. Common neuropsychiatric illnesses associated with B12 deficiency are dementia, neuropathies, depression, and irritability. Authors concluded that OCD was an early manifestation of B12 deficiency.

Is OCD a disability? ›

Under the ADA it considers a disability to be “a physical or mental impairment” that limits someone's ability to functioning in daily activities. It includes OCD to be a disability.

What it's like living with someone with OCD? ›

It can be difficult, demanding and exhausting to live with a person who has OCD. Family members and friends may become deeply involved in the person's rituals and may have to assume responsibility and care for many daily activities that the person with OCD is unable to undertake.

Who is at risk for OCD? ›

OCD is most commonly triggered in older teens or young adults. Studies indicate that late adolescence is a period of increased vulnerability for the development of OCD. Boys are more likely to experience the onset of OCD prior to puberty and those who have a family member with OCD or Tourette Syndrome are most at risk.

What are the most common OCD thoughts? ›

Common obsessive thoughts in OCD include:

Fear of being contaminated by germs or dirt or contaminating others. Fear of losing control and harming yourself or others. Intrusive sexually explicit or violent thoughts and images. Excessive focus on religious or moral ideas.

Can OCD lead to brain damage? ›

However, there have been reports of TBI-induced OCD being diagnosed months after the initial injury. In each case, localized brain damage may or may not be present when viewing a brain scan. Research has indicated that OCD following a TBI is usually accompanied by symptoms of major depression.

Can you see OCD on a brain scan? ›

OCD was one of the first psychiatric disorders in brain scans showed evidence of abnormal brain activity in specific regions.

What OCD does to the brain? ›

Research suggests that OCD involves problems in communication between the front part of the brain and deeper structures of the brain. These brain structures use a neurotransmitter (basically, a chemical messenger) called serotonin.

What are 3 ways to treat OCD? ›

Treatments for OCD
  1. Exposure Therapy. The psychotherapy of choice for the treatment of OCD is exposure and response prevention (ERP), which is a form of CBT. ...
  2. Imaginal Exposure. ...
  3. Habit Reversal Training. ...
  4. Cognitive Therapy.
21 Sept 2016

Can I treat OCD without medication? ›

Psychotherapy or talk therapy has been used effectively to treat OCD. This type of therapy works especially well when it is combined with medication. Your therapist may suggest cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to help with your OCD. Exposure and response prevention (ERP) is a type of CBT that works well for OCD.

Can OCD go away with age? ›

Obsessive-compulsive symptoms generally wax and wane over time. Because of this, many individuals diagnosed with OCD may suspect that their OCD comes and goes or even goes away—only to return. However, as mentioned above, obsessive-compulsive traits never truly go away. Instead, they require ongoing management.

How do doctors test for OCD? ›

Many healthcare professionals use a tool called a structured clinical interview to see if your symptoms are consistent with OCD. Structured clinical interviews contain standardized questions to ensure that each patient is interviewed in the same way.

Is OCD genetic? ›

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a serious psychiatric disorder that affects approximately 2% of the populations of children and adults. Family aggregation studies have demonstrated that OCD is familial, and results from twin studies demonstrate that the familiality is due in part to genetic factors.

What are signs of OCD in adults? ›

Compulsive behaviour
  • cleaning and hand washing.
  • checking – such as checking doors are locked or that the gas is off.
  • counting.
  • ordering and arranging.
  • hoarding.
  • asking for reassurance.
  • repeating words in their head.
  • thinking "neutralising" thoughts to counter the obsessive thoughts.

What are the 4 types of OCD? ›

OCD can manifest in four main ways: contamination/washing, doubt/checking, ordering/arranging, and unacceptable/taboo thoughts. Obsessions and compulsions that revolve about contamination and germs are the most common type of OCD, but OCD can cover a wide range of topics.

When do OCD symptoms start? ›

OCD can start at any time from preschool to adulthood. Although OCD does occur at earlier ages, there are generally two age ranges when OCD first appears: Between ages 10 and 12 and between the late teens and early adulthood. It typically starts between 18 and 25 but can begin anytime.

What are the 7 types of OCD? ›

Common Types of OCD
  • Aggressive or sexual thoughts. ...
  • Harm to loved ones. ...
  • Germs and contamination. ...
  • Doubt and incompleteness. ...
  • Sin, religion, and morality. ...
  • Order and symmetry. ...
  • Self-control.

Can vitamin B12 cure OCD? ›

Vitamin B12 and folate are thought to be effective in OCD treatment due to their associations with neurotransmitters.

Which hormone is responsible for OCD? ›

Some research studies have found evidence to suggest that oxytocin is associated with OCD. We review the growing evidence that suggests oxytocin and gonadal steroids might play a role in the pathogenesis of some forms of OCD.

Does coffee help OCD? ›

Based on the findings of our study, caffeine can reduce the severity of the symptoms of OCD and serve as an auxiliary treatment for OCD.

Is OCD a form of autism? ›

Autistic symptoms and OCD can look similar

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and OCD are two different conditions, however, it is true that some symptoms of autism overlap with those of other disorders, such as OCD, and can look similar (Højgaard et al.

Is OCD a mental illness or neurological disorder? ›

Once thought to be psychodynamic in origin, OCD is now generally recognized as having a neurobiological cause. Although the exact pathophysiology of OCD in its pure form remains unknown, there are numerous reports of obsessive-compulsive symptoms arising in the setting of known neurological disease.

Is OCD a chemical imbalance in the brain? ›

Is OCD Caused by a Chemical Imbalance? While studies in the past have shown possible links between chemical imbalances and deficiencies, including serotonin production issues, recent research has largely disproven any connection between an OCD diagnosis and chemical imbalances in the brain.

Are people with OCD controlling? ›

OCD is often related to control. The fear of losing control can result in behaviors that can disrupt your ability to function normally. If you are experiencing symptoms of OCD or the fear of losing control, reach out to your doctor or mental health professional.

What should you not say to someone with OCD? ›

What Not to Say to Someone With Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  • "Don't worry, I'm kind of OCD sometimes, too."
  • "You don't look like you have OCD."
  • "Want to come over and clean my house?"
  • "You're being irrational."
  • "Why can't you just stop?"
  • "It's all in your head."
  • "It's just a quirk/tic. It isn't serious."
  • "Just relax."
21 May 2015

How do you calm down someone with OCD? ›

Offer a hug or other emotional support instead of helping with a compulsion. Seek advice. If they are getting treatment you could both talk to their doctor or therapist about the best way to manage compulsions. Accept that sometimes it will be impossible not to offer reassurance or to help with a compulsion.

What are 3 major symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder? ›

OCD Types and Symptoms

Contamination, a fear of things that might be dirty or a compulsion to clean. Mental contamination involves feeling like you've been treated like dirt. Symmetry and ordering, the need to have things lined up in a certain way. Ruminations and intrusive thoughts, an obsession with a line of thought ...

Is OCD a form of depression? ›

Most people experience the symptoms of OCD first, but for a small percentage, the two conditions begin at the same time. It's rare for depression symptoms to precede OCD. For that reason, researchers often say that depression is part of OCD, but OCD is not necessarily part of depression.

What does God say about OCD? ›

If you're combatting this disorder, here are some bible verses for OCD that can help you cope with symptoms: 2 Timothy 1:7: For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-control. 1 Peter 5:7: Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.

Why do some people get OCD? ›

A number of different factors may play a part, including: family history – you're more likely to develop OCD if a family member has it, possibly because of your genes. differences in the brain – some people with OCD have areas of unusually high activity in their brain or low levels of a chemical called serotonin.

Is OCD due to lack of serotonin? ›

Obsessive compulsive disorder, or OCD, is an anxiety disorder which, like many anxiety disorders, is marked by low levels of serotonin. Serotonin, a type of neurotransmitter, has a variety of functions that make a deficiency a serious and anxiety producing issue.

Why is OCD so hard to overcome? ›

The bulk of the problems occurring within your OCD come from you. The main reason that compulsions seem so hard to stop is because you have rehearsed them so often that they have become very automatic habits that are easy to do without thinking. You get good at things you rehearse a lot.

Can OCD affect memory? ›

It has been reported that episodic memory seems to be impaired in patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) because the patients repeat a specific checking behavior, but it is still unknown if OCD patients show memory impairments associated with their unique symptoms or not.

Is OCD neurotic or psychotic? ›

Psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, can cause delusions, hallucinations, and other symptoms of psychosis. Non-psychotic disorders, which used to be called neuroses, include depressive disorders and anxiety disorders like phobias, panic attacks, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

What activities help with OCD? ›

If you have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), someone might have recommended that you try exercising.
...
How to do it
  • Go for a run.
  • Learn to jump rope.
  • Ride your bike.
  • Do some jumping jacks.
  • Take up rollerblading or roller skating.
28 Jan 2021

Can OCD be seen on MRI? ›

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans conducted to compare the volumes of different brain regions in people with and without OCD have found smaller volumes of the orbitofrontal cortex and the anterior cingulate cortex in individuals with OCD.

How does OCD affect communication? ›

Researchers know that OCD is triggered by communication problems between the brain's deeper structures and the front part of the brain. These parts of the brain primarily use serotonin to communicate. This is why increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain can help to alleviate OCD symptoms.

How do you stop OCD thoughts naturally? ›

6 Best Strategies to Combat Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  1. Practice mindfulness to manage stress. Two key characteristics of OCD are high anxiety and the presence of intrusive thoughts. ...
  2. Get plenty of exercise. ...
  3. Sleep well and enough. ...
  4. Avoid nicotine and alcohol. ...
  5. Reach out to family and friends. ...
  6. Find an ERP therapist.
7 Jan 2021

Can I treat OCD without medication? ›

Psychotherapy or talk therapy has been used effectively to treat OCD. This type of therapy works especially well when it is combined with medication. Your therapist may suggest cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to help with your OCD. Exposure and response prevention (ERP) is a type of CBT that works well for OCD.

How do I get over my OCD without medication? ›

25 Tips for Succeeding in Your OCD Treatment
  1. Always expect the unexpected. ...
  2. Be willing to accept risk. ...
  3. Never seek reassurance from yourself or others. ...
  4. Always try hard to agree with all obsessive thoughts — never analyze, question, or argue with them. ...
  5. Don't waste time trying to prevent or not think your thoughts.

How do I get rid of OCD permanently? ›

Therapy. Several types of psychotherapy can be used to help someone with OCD manage obsessive thoughts. The most common is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), specifically an approach known as exposure therapy. People with OCD are often treated using an approach called exposure and response prevention therapy (ERP).

Can I do ERP on my own? ›

It sounds difficult, but you don't have to go through it alone. It's best to do ERP with a licensed therapist who specializes in OCD and ERP. That person will have the knowledge and experience to help you understand your experiences, fears, and goals and teach you how to empower yourself.

What happens if OCD is not treated? ›

Left untreated, OCD can lead to other severe mental health conditions, such as anxiety and panic attacks, and depression. Untreated mental health conditions are also a significant source of drug and alcohol addiction. People will often turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with the distress of an untreated mental disorder.

Is OCD due to lack of serotonin? ›

Obsessive compulsive disorder, or OCD, is an anxiety disorder which, like many anxiety disorders, is marked by low levels of serotonin. Serotonin, a type of neurotransmitter, has a variety of functions that make a deficiency a serious and anxiety producing issue.

Why is OCD so hard to overcome? ›

The bulk of the problems occurring within your OCD come from you. The main reason that compulsions seem so hard to stop is because you have rehearsed them so often that they have become very automatic habits that are easy to do without thinking. You get good at things you rehearse a lot.

Is OCD a disability? ›

Under the ADA it considers a disability to be “a physical or mental impairment” that limits someone's ability to functioning in daily activities. It includes OCD to be a disability.

How do you break the OCD cycle? ›

How can you break the cycle of obsessive thinking?
  1. Distract yourself: Try distracting yourself by breaking the thought cycle: ...
  2. Enhance your self-esteem: Negative thoughts about yourself can lead to depressive thinking. ...
  3. Understand your triggers: When you start to have harmful thoughts, make a mental note of the situation.
13 Jul 2021

How do you break the cycle of obsessive thoughts? ›

Tips for addressing ruminating thoughts
  1. Distract yourself. When you realize you're starting to ruminate, finding a distraction can break your thought cycle. ...
  2. Plan to take action. ...
  3. Take action. ...
  4. Question your thoughts. ...
  5. Readjust your life's goals. ...
  6. Work on enhancing your self-esteem. ...
  7. Try meditation. ...
  8. Understand your triggers.

How serious is OCD? ›

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a chronic mental health condition in which uncontrollable obsessions lead to compulsive behaviors. When this condition becomes severe, it can interfere with relationships and responsibilities and significantly reduce quality of life. It can be debilitating.

Can OCD be caused by trauma? ›

Not a few patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) have experienced events that affected the onset. The onset of OCD is not limited to the original meaning of trauma; rather, traumatic experiences such as unexpected exposure to contaminants or various stressful life events often cause the onset of OCD.

What is living with OCD like? ›

Instead of focusing on school, work, family, friends, health or recreation, people with OCD end up spending their time and energy on compulsions. Most of them know this behavior is illogical, but this doesn't convince their brain that it can take a break. The thought terrifies you.

How long does ERP therapy take? ›

The length of treatment can vary based on the severity of symptoms, but on average, people receiving ERP virtually will require around 2 months of treatment to achieve clinically significant results—though some people with more severe OCD can still achieve significant results with a longer timeline.

How long should an ERP session last? ›

ERP treatment is typically completed in about twelve sessions, and is considered complete once the client has successfully faced their higher-level fears. Sessions often start at 60 to 90 minutes in length, and become shorter as time progresses. Connect with a therapist who specializes in treating OCD.

What is an example of ERP therapy? ›

For someone who is afraid of catching germs from a doorknob, for example, the way to overcome this fear using ERP would be for them to touch the doorknob. A clinician may then have the individual touch their face and their wallet to address the fear of spreading germs.

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1. You are not alone.
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2. 5 Sign that will tell you how ocd you are | Sound health Solution
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3. What is OCD? - Matcha Clinic
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4. Handling OCD
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5. Recover from an OCD Relapse
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6. البصمة - عالم الوسواس القهري | OCD
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