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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Trastorn Obsessiu Compulsiu (TOC)

 

People with obsessive compulsive disorder have persistent and recurring thoughts which are generally unpleasant, known as obsessions.

These thoughts lead people to carry out repetitive actions or rituals which help them cope with the obsession. These are known as compulsions. Examples of compulsions would be: excessive hand washing, religious behaviour (such as saying a prayer exactly 15 times to stop something bad happening), counting and checking things (e.g. making sure the door is closed, the gas is off, etc.).

 

Description

People with OCD very often feel that something bad will happen if they don’t carry out these compulsive actions and so they feel "obliged" to do them. This creates a great deal of anxiety and distress, as they feel it is their responsibility to stop bad things happening.

They may withdraw from the activities of daily life or completely avoid them due to fears produced by their obsessions or compulsive behaviours.

They may also have difficulty with daily tasks such as cooking, cleaning, washing themselves, etc. and experience a high level of anxiety.

Following specific recommendations can help you to live with or overcome obsessive compulsive disorder.

However, if this advice is not enough and the disorder gets worse, you should speak to a PSYCHOLOGIST AND/OR A PSYCHIATRIST, who can complement it with other types of treatment such as cognitive behavioural therapy or medication.

 

 

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR COPING WITH OR OVERCOMING OBSESSIONS AND COMPULSIONS:

 

  • You have to believe you can overcome it and be determined to beat the problem
  • It is important to learn not to fear your obsessive thoughts and to allow them to go through your mind without being alarmed by them, as there is no real danger.
  • In terms of your rituals, you will have to change how you do them and be clear that the end goal is to get rid of them.
  • Any time that you think that something bad will happen to you or a loved one if you don’t do a particular ritual, try to recognise that this fear is completely irrational and untrue.
  • You will feel anxious for a while, but this will eventually decrease just as if you had carried out the ritual.
  • Notice that nothing bad has happened, even though you did not carry out the ritual you instinctively wanted to do.
  • Part of your mind completely recognises that these ideas are unrealistic and that nothing bad will happen if you do not carry out these rituals.
  • Rituals calm you down at the time you carry them out, but they worsen the problem in the medium and long term. Distract yourself in order to decrease your anxiety: call someone, go for a walk, practice relaxation techniques, and so on.
  • Accept your irrational thoughts and let them be. Don't fight against them. See them for what they are - unpleasant thoughts - but remember they don’t pose any danger and will get weaker and weaker until they eventually disappear.
  • Tell yourself that: having obsessions is okay, no matter how many unpleasant thoughts go through your head, nothing bad will happen
  • Write down and record these thoughts so you can listen back to them and see for yourself that they are completely untrue and cannot harm you.Focus on your normal life. By doing this, unpleasant thoughts will gradually disappear.
  • Don't feel guilty about having the obsession; accept it.

 

To try to reduce or eliminate compulsions or rituals:

 

  • Postpone or delay the ritual for a while. In the meantime, distract yourself by thinking about something interesting or doing something you enjoy, such as talking to someone, listening to your favourite music, playing with a pet, exercising, etc.
  • Do it more slowly. Taking several slow, deep breaths from the diaphragm will help.
  • Change some aspect of the ritual. For example, if you use a particular soap, change the brand; if you repeatedly touch an object, use a different one; if you do the ritual in a particular room, do it somewhere else; if you usually do it standing up, do it sitting down.
  • Add a consequence to your ritual. Give yourself an additional task to do that is unrelated to your compulsions every time you do the ritual. This should be something that requires effort and time which will help you to not carry out the ritual. For example, every time you do the ritual you then have to drive for an hour, clean the house, walk for 30 minutes, or do 10 press-ups, etc.
  • Take regular exercise. This will reduce your anxiety and therefore your obsessions and compulsions will decrease.

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