How to take the first step to overcome your OCD

Too scared to touch a pen at work, or constantly washing your hands or checking things?
Aware of your OCD, and want to know how to make small changes to overcome your OCD?

steps overcome OCD Obsessive Compulsive Disorder advice psychology

Distress. This is how you may be feeling. Knowing your OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) is dominating your day, however unsure of how to manage it.
How can you overcome your OCD?

OCD affects around 1.8% of people worldwide, and whilst males are more commonly affected in childhood, research shows females are more affected in adulthood*.


OCD can reflect either feeling overwhelming anxiety that something bad might happen if you don’t engage in a particular task, or knowing logically something bad will not happen, but you still feel the need to engage in the behaviour so that it “feels right”.


Feeling the need to engage in compulsions may be having a negative impact on friendships, relationships, work, or leisure –

  • Needing to constantly ask questions, seeking reassurance all the time from a partner.
  • Stress on your relationship – your partner may see a future with children in it, however if something spills on the floor, what happens to your anxiety?
  • Your family may become frustrated if you’re in the bathroom constantly washing your hands.
  • Effects on your work life if you’re too scared to touch a pen, making it challenging to do your job.
  • If you can’t leave a room without clicking the light on and off, what do you do at work when you leave the room?


You end up house bound, worried about people seeing your compulsions.

OBSESSIONSCOMPULSIONS
When you experience uncontrollable, unwanted thoughts or images, e.g. fear of germs.In response to these ‘obsessions’ or thoughts, you develop ritualised, repetitive behaviours or mental acts called ‘compulsions’.


You’re probably thinking, I logically know that these thoughts and compulsions are irrational, but I can’t resist engaging!
This is a result of so much anxiety surrounding them that it’s hard to bare.


Engaging in the compulsions reduces your anxiety.



What are the Implications of this?

Every time you engage in a compulsion, you strengthen the OCD tendencies. For example, if you wash your hands immediately after touching something, you are teaching your body that the reason you didn’t get sick, is because you washed your hands immediately. You’re not learning that you can actually touch objects without becoming sick, e.g. pick up a pen, shake another person’s hand.


Small Changes to Make at Home – Challenge Your Beliefs and Worries!

Slightly adjust the compulsion
e.g. If you wash your hands for 5 minutes each time you touch something, try next time to only wash them for 4 minutes. See what happens! This will help you test the validity of your thoughts or worries and show yourself that the compulsions were not necessary to keep you safe.

e.g. If you click a light five times before leaving a room because you fear that something bad will happen, try and click it only 3 times. Wait….then reflect on what happened and whether your original worry came true or not.


Change your mindset to overcome your OCD
Remember, it’s important to keep these steps small and achievable. If you don’t resist and engage in the compulsion, you risk strengthening your OCD – the opposite of what you want to achieve. It’s about small steps in the right direction, rather than trying to get rid of your OCD completely.


Not sure if you have OCD – take our checklist HERE.


Written by Kya Porter – Psychologist – www.creatingchange.net.au
*American Psychiatric Association, 2013

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