Managing Symptoms of OCD

How Can I Manage Symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder or (OCD) can be detrimental to those suffering from the disorder. You may have a child who is suffering from these symptoms. You may also have some of the symptoms yourself and may need some help in minimizing your symptoms in order to be there for your child. OCD can be confusing and even scary for those dealing with the symptoms. OCD can affect a person’s feelings of safety and security as they are plagued with their own “bad thoughts.” They may not trust themselves or feel uncomfortable when alone out of fear of succumbing to their darkest obsessions. They may struggle in social situations due to their anxiety about things needing to be “just right” or feeling the need to engage in ritualistic behaviors. To help yourself or your child deal with symptoms of OCD, keep some of the following tips in mind.

Remember: This Is a Disorder

Those who suffer from OCD may feel like flawed people. They may be ashamed of their “bad thoughts” or their compulsive behaviors. They may internalize these feelings and believe that they are abnormal or disturbed people. Being formally diagnosed can help relieve the person of this feeling of being unworthy or “less-than” others. When you understand that you have a disorder, you can begin to heal from it. You can start to separate yourself from your disorder. For those suffering from OCD, this realization can be incredibly relieving! They may have suffered from low levels of self-esteem and confidence, assuming that their disorder was a deeper part of their worst tendencies coming to fruition. Many of the tips for dealing with OCD revolve around this concept of separating the self from the disorder.

  • Stop trying to “think” your bad thoughts or obsessions away
    • Thoughts enter our minds constantly, even for those without OCD.
    • One of the differences between people with OCD and those without is the “filtering” of disturbing or bad thoughts.
    • People with OCD may have these bad thoughts that rise to the conscious level that never reach the conscious awareness of those without the disorder.
    • Remember that thoughts do not require your judgment or evaluation. They usually disappear when we let them pass by without judgment or focus.
    • Trying to control your thoughts gives them more strength and magnifies them.
    • Learn mindfulness and meditations to learn to let your thoughts go.
  • Compulsions are attempts of ridding yourself of “bad” thoughts
    • The compulsions in OCD refer to the irrational behaviors that a person with OCD uses to “get rid of the bad thoughts.”
    • Compulsions are a maladaptive means of attempting to cope with bad thoughts, as they only add to the person’s stress.
    • Compulsions can be outward behaviors (counting steps, entering and re-entering a room a certain number of times) or inward (compulsive thinking to “control” the thoughts that only gives them more power).
    • You may need to learn replacement strategies that lessen the stress of these thoughts or things that you can do to stay mindful and out of your head
  • Focus “in the moment”
    • Getting stuck in your thoughts and in your head can be common for those with OCD.
    • Focus on something in your immediate surroundings or on your five senses to “get out of your head.”
  • Make light of your bad and distressing thoughts
    • You might be giving your obsessive thoughts more strength by taking them too seriously.
    • Shrug your distressing thoughts off dismissively and with humor, “Oh well, I guess the world won’t end if I don’t put my hat on ‘the right’ way.’”
  • Pay attention to “flare-ups”
    • When you are feeling stressed, you may notice a decreased resilience to “bad” thoughts or an increased amount of them.
    • You may also notice an increase in your compulsive or ritualistic behavior, which is your maladaptive means of getting rid of these thoughts.
    • When this happens, check-in with yourself. This may be a warning sign that you are stressed and need to intervene.
    • Allow your disorder to work for you by treating it as a distress signal.
    • Check-in with your mental and physical health: are you getting enough sleep? Are you experiencing changes in your life that may be adding stress? (These can be good or bad changes; any change can bring stress!) Is there something else that you may need to address in your life?

Remember that you are not your disorder. Once you have a name for it and you can separate yourself from your OCD, you can reclaim where you begin and your OCD ends. You may want to seek professional help for your symptoms, especially if they are impacting your quality of life or causing other disorders, like depression, to occur. If your child is struggling with OCD, consider finding help for them and learn more about the disorder to support them as they heal.

Dealing with OCD can be challenging and even a little scary. People with the disorder may be reluctant to seek treatment for fear of exposing others to the problems that they are facing. They may have a difficult time being vulnerable and opening up to others. If your child has OCD, you can educate yourself further on the disorder and learn some common coping skills to help them. People with OCD may also experience other disorders, like depression, anxiety, or even addiction. OCD can cause a person to feel like they have little to no self-worth. They may turn to drugs or alcohol as temporary relief of symptoms. They may become withdrawn and have trouble connecting with others. If your child is struggling with OCD, you may need to get them help to treat their symptoms. Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Center is here for you and your child. Call us today at (303) 443-3343.

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