About 1.6% to 2.5% of Americans deal with obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD. A fraction of that number seeks and receives OCD treatment. Up to 60% to 70% of people who receive OCD treatment will recover. Just because you’re struggling with OCD now doesn’t mean you’ll struggle with it later, but as mental health treatment takes time, you must remember to be patient. Learning how to manage OCD can help you find relief, but it’s important to understand triggers or factors that can make OCD worse. Learn about five factors that make OCD worse.
What Is OCD?
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health condition that can affect anyone. People who develop OCD struggle with intense obsessions and compulsions. These feelings can dominate their thoughts and make it impossible to focus on anything else.
What Are Obsessions?
You’ve probably heard the term “obsessed” before. Most people use it to describe healthy obsessions. For example, a person may feel obsessed with a song, book series, etc.
Obsessions Are Uncontrollable
Really liking a movie is not the same as an OCD obsession. OCD obsessions make it difficult for people to live their everyday life. People with OCD deal with uncontrollable and reoccurring thoughts, images, and impulses that cause stress.
Obsessions Interrupt Life
In severe cases, these obsessions can get in the way of daily functioning. For example, an individual who swears someone wants to kill them may refuse to leave the house. They may miss work, school, social events, etc.
What Are Compulsions?
Compulsions are actions a person must complete. It’s normal to have a weekly home cleaning routine. It’s not normal to have a daily or hourly cleaning routine. People who obsessively think about illness may compulsively clean their homes this often.
Compulsions Interrupt Life
People who struggle with OCD obsessions typically look for ways to make them stop. They’ll often use repetitive behaviors or compulsions to cope. They may end up performing these behaviors instead of doing activities that they enjoy.
Compulsions Feel Bad
Another telltale sign that a person has a compulsion has to do with their feelings. Cleaning the house makes a person feel accomplished. OCD victims don’t want to do their time-consuming compulsions but feel like they must.
An OCD flare-up may also include a condition called a tic disorder. Tics are sounds or movements that people repeat compulsively. Motor tics are physical movements such as eye blinking, shoulder shrugging, and head jerking. Vocal tics are sounds that people make repeatedly. These often include sniffing, grunting, and throat-clearing sounds. OCD patients often find that tics are challenging to control.
Do you think you have OCD? Don’t try to self-diagnose. Go to a mental health professional to get an expert diagnosis. Mental healthcare professionals use medication, psychotherapy, and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to treat OCD symptoms.
People living with OCD should seek help, but they can also take smaller steps to lessen their symptoms. If you have OCD, it’s vital to follow an OCD treatment plan, but also avoid taking the following actions:
1. Not Managing Stress
Stress pretty much makes all mental health issues worse. OCD is no exception. Managing stress may alleviate OCD symptoms at least a bit. Eating healthily, doing yoga, and working out are all ways to manage stress. There are plenty of methods you can try.
2. Trying to Suppress Thoughts
If you try not to think of a white elephant, you’ll think of a white elephant. Don’t try to suppress your obsessive thoughts. Doing so will just cause more obsessive thoughts to appear. Instead, try to redirect your thoughts with another activity. Describe what’s around you, use an anchoring phrase, etc. Methods like these should help you deal with your painful thoughts.
3. Not Questioning Thoughts
Don’t try to fight your thoughts with kicking and screaming. Fight problematic thoughts with logic. Question if what the obsessive thoughts are saying is true. Remember that your thoughts are rarely your reality. Do you believe that someone will hurt your family? Think about if you have any real evidence that someone is coming to harm your family.
4. Being Hard on Yourself
Many people advocate pushing yourself to carry out a goal — this isn’t a good idea when dealing with OCD. Experts have found that comforting yourself can be more effective. Recognize that fighting OCD can be challenging. It’s not fair to judge yourself when you struggle. Point out what you do well and comfort yourself when things go wrong.
5. Getting Too Much Help
Yes, you need help, but remember that this is your battle and no one else’s. Don’t expect other people to fix your problems for you. You need to put in some work as well. Remember to follow the treatment plan your therapist gives you. Vent to your loved ones, but only as a last resort.
Get OCD Treatment
OCD can disrupt your life and cause extreme distress, but you must have hope. If you stay persistent, you should recover from OCD. If you need OCD treatment, we can help. At Comprehensive Wellness Centers in South Florida, we’ll stand by you in every step you take toward mental health recovery. Help is only one step away. Get help today.