Living Well With Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a mental illness in which individuals become unwillingly fixated on images, thoughts and urges which cause anxiety and discomfort.
Among the most common disturbances OCD sufferers report are fears of coming into contact or becoming contaminated by germs, experiencing upsetting sexual thoughts and an unattainable need for perfection.
Those who suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder may also experience physical symptoms, such as headaches, stomach problems, dizziness, feelings of detachment from the body, a racing heart and shallow breathing. These physiological symptoms are often accompanied by anxiety, sadness, shame, guilt, and anger.
Repetitive behaviours are often used as coping mechanisms for troubling symptoms. For example, some sufferers may check their stoves, door locks and light switches a number of times before they’re able to fall asleep at night or leave their home. Some individuals may repeat words or phrases to themselves, or say numbers a certain amount of times in a particular order. Others may wash their hands or objects they come in contact with excessively.
OCD is said to affect approximately 2-3% of children and adults. According to the United States National Institute of Mental Health, OCD is first diagnosed in teens around the age of 19. The onset of this disorder, however, typically begins between the ages of 7 and 12 and females are more commonly diagnosed than males. However, that’s not to say symptoms of OCD can’t begin in adulthood.
How OCD Can Affect The Sufferer and Their Loved Ones
OCD can be difficult to understand for friends and family members of sufferers. The obsessions, compulsions and fears that can plague an individual can appear irrational or downright confusion. In this case, it can be hard for a loved one to understand how to help when the compulsions arise.
Even though OCD can be challenging, and those supporting the person may feel the individual isn’t grounded in reality, it’s important to offer compassion, rather than trying to argue with the sufferer and force a change in behaviour.
OCD can cause feelings of isolation and loneliness in those who are affected by it. Loved ones can ease the pain of these thoughts and feelings by learning to understand and recognize which situations are most triggering for a loved one’s OCD symptoms.
Depending on the nature of your relationship with a loved one with OCD, you may need to devote some extra time and energy to help a person get well, or draw boundaries with regard to what you’re able to sacrifice, and when professional assistance is required.
It’s suggested the neurotransmitter, serotonin, may play a role in the development of OCD symptoms because SSRI’s (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) have seen small amounts of success when it comes to treating patients with depression, which can occur simultaneously in patients with OCD. However, SSRIs may not be an effective treatment for the compulsions that occur with OCD.
Alternative medicine may be effective for treating symptoms of OCD, such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), a treatment that shows the patient how the thoughts, feelings and behaviours they experience work together. CBT can provide problem solving skills and stress management tools, and encourage realistic thinking and relaxation.
With the tools learned from CBT, a person can help reinforce the lessons from the treatment by practicing problem solving exercises at home, as well as working to understand the root cause of their anxious thoughts.
Individuals with OCD may also find relief by adopting a lifestyle with healthy habits for the mind, body and spirit. By engaging in a regular yoga and meditation practice, eating nutrient dense foods, exercising for at least 30 minutes each day and prioritizing proper rest, a person who suffers from OCD can begin to build a strong foundation for their overall health and wellness.
How our Team at The Paradise Valley Healing Center Can Help
At the Paradise Valley Healing Center, we recognize each person is unique. We work with individuals to explore what their personal challenges and struggles are, to determine what’s necessary for their healing. We also work closely with the individual’s support network, which can ease the stress in everyone’s lives and increase feelings of joy, equanimity and peace.
Contact us via phone or email with your questions and inquiries today. Our therapists are available to provide answers on how we may best assist you on your path to wellness. We look forward to hearing from you!