If you struggle with OCD, you're not alone. Often, this disorder is misdiagnosed, and many go years without the appropriate treatment. Please know that your OCD thoughts do not represent who you are, and I will never judge you based on your intrusive thoughts, obsessions, or compulsions.
Obsessions are unwanted thoughts, images, or urges that constantly pop up. These are highly distressing to someone with OCD and can involve shocking or disturbing content.
The intrusive thoughts send off alarm bells that cause intense anxiety, fear, disgust, or confusion. People tend to believe that the intrusive thoughts mean something about their character.
A person suffering with OCD will do specific acts (behaviors or mental rituals) to try and get rid of the emotional distress. These acts become repetitive and the person feels they must be done, even if the act isn't connected to the thought or doesn't make logical sense.
The OCD CYCLE
Although compulsions feel that they offer relief from the intrusive thoughts, the relief is temporary, and only lasts until the next intrusive thought pops up. The compulsions actually fuel the cycle and make the intrusive thoughts worse.
treatment for ocd
Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) is an evidence-based treatment that is considered the gold standard for treating OCD. ERP involves exposing someone to their feared thoughts/images/urges without acting on compulsions. This allows the person to learn that they can tolerate the uncertainty that comes from their obsessions, without doing anything to stop the obsession. By doing exposure, the brain will learn that the obsessions are not dangerous, no matter how uncomfortable they might feel at the time. With ERP, the "alarm bells" that OCD sets off become less loud and the person is more able to engage in their life without being consumed by OCD.
Types of OCD
People with this type of OCD fear that they may be sexually attracted to children. This type of OCD is prone to stigma, but the thoughts in no way represent the person's true desires. Often, people go without treatment for years due to the fear that they will be judged for these thoughts. Compulsions may include avoiding children, avoiding schools, reassurance seeking, and trying to look for evidence that the feared thoughts are not true.
sexual orientation OCD
This type includes the fear of being unsure about one's sexual orientation, the fear of being attracted to a certain gender, or the fear that they might be the "wrong" sexual orientation. Compulsions include avoidance of triggers, reassurance seeking, or "checking" whether arousal / sexual attraction is present.
Contamination OCD involves the fear of contracting or transmitting germs or other contaminants (chemicals, bacteria, feces, urine, blood, saliva, etc.)
Compulsions include excessive cleaning, avoidance of germs/contaminants, avoidance of public places, etc.
This type involves constant questioning of one's feelings about a romantic relationship. Compulsions include "checking" for feelings of love, focusing on real or perceived flaws in one's partner, obsessing about whether one's partner is "the one," comparing to other relationships, or analyzing time together to find evidence that the relationship is good/bad.
This type of OCD involves the fear of harming self or others, either physically or emotionally. Compulsions include avoidance of people, avoidance of places, and avoidance of items like knives. Some fear driving, because they are afraid they might hit someone and not realize it. This results in compulsive checking as well as avoidance of certain driving routes/areas with a lot of people.
symmetry or order ocd
This type of OCD can also present as "just right" obsessions and compulsions. People feel the need to have items ordered or aligned in particular ways, or they may have to touch items a certain number of times, perform actions multiple times, walk in a specific way, or re-do something a certain number of times.
Somatic OCD is concerned with bodily-related functions, such as blinking, breathing, heart rate, etc. People become overly focused on their bodily functions and fear they will always be aware of the sensations. They may also obsess over the idea that they are not performing these functions correctly.
People with this type of OCD fear that they have violated their religious, ethical, or moral beliefs. Compulsions include trying to figure out whether one has acted ethically, confessing wrongs to others, seeking reassurance, praying, or revisiting/analyzing memories.