If you suspect that you have obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) or you have been diagnosed with OCD – then you will probably want to know what that means and what available treatments exist for OCD.
In short, the most common obsessive compulsive disorder treatments are SSRIs (medication) and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). In this post I will explain both.
For a start, in the video below you can see how those two forms of treatment will help you live a life despite the OCD and will sooth both, the obsessions as well as the compulsions.
Should you take medication?
Essentially, nobody can answer that for you but here is an idea. I have seen many OCD sufferers, including those with incredibly paralysing OCDs, get incredible relief to the point of remission without medication. The reason for that is because the CBT treatment for OCD is absolutely excellent. However, I’d like to make a distinction within OCD that should guide you from the outset.
Do you suffer from obsessions (intrusive, ongoing thoughts) and compulsions (behaviours to sooth the obsessions) or just obsessions?
This distinction is vital. I can tell you as a therapist, that if you suffer from the former, which is both, then the CBT treatment is far easier, and you will make faster progress. In this case, I’d say start with some CBT such as through online-therapy and wait with the medication. See whether you are making progress without the meds. You don’t have to wait long, I would say after about 5 sessions you should already see a significant improvement. If you have strong obsessions without compulsions, you can also embark on CBT but the chance is greater that you may end up needing the meds to help you along.
My best advice is to start with CBT, and if you are not getting significant relief to use a combination of both, CBT and meds. That way, when you get off the meds, you will also have a skill and tool set to help you if the OCD pipes up again so you can nip it in the bud and make sure it doesn’t re-emerge in its full strength.
Any coping tools? Sure. Let me give you some coping tools. They might also be covered in the therapy sessions that you will get but this can help you already get started now.
Create a list of all your OCD behaviours/rituals/habits
Put them in order from most severe (most difficult to control) to easiest
Now at the bottom of your list is your easiest to control OCD behaviour which should be annoying but manageable
Now you have to make a decision whether to continue listening to the OCD bully that is running your life and continue to make him bigger and give him more authority by adhering to him or are you going to take control?
If you decide to take control, then you take that one point that is more under your control and choose not to give in to the compulsion anymore.
Short-term, the bully OCD won’t like it and will get more aggressive, telling you that you must adhere to him. But if you ignore him, you will see that after a while, he will leave you alone regarding this compulsion
Then you move up to the next one on the list and so on. As you eradicate one behaviour after another you will take full control back of your life and your bully OCD will become silenced
What if even my easiest one on the list is too hard? What you need to do is simple. Break it down. Say that your main compulsion is repetitive hand-washing again and again. You know its OCD and you’d like to get it under control. Great. You make a list but you either only have that one OCD issue or hand-washing is the easiest one on the list but still very difficult for you to control.Break it down into small pieces. Here is how it works. How long do you spend washing your hands now? Is it 5 min? 10 min? 30? So now on your list it would look like this – at the top of the list which is the most difficult for you to control, would be the current 30 min. Next on the list would be 25 min etc. So, if the next step would be that you think you can knock off 1 min, you start with that.
Main thing is to start punching the OCD. You have to start seeing the OCD as something external from you. As someone that is trying to control your life. Has he helped you so far? Has he ever really become satisfied with you? And mostly, doesn’t he always demand more? That is almost like an addict that always wants more. So how will it end? He’s never really happy anyway. Look back on your life, is the OCD worse now than it was half a year ago. I’m sure it is.
Because he always wants more and never really lets go. So, if you start with reducing the hand washing by one min. you have basically told him I am taking back control of my life!
Remember the rule – it first gets worse! At first, the bully won’t like it, why should he? He has been in charge until now, why should he just let it go? So he will become furious and shout from the rooftops how unhygienic you are for not washing properly etc. (adapt to your OCD ritual).
But you must remain steadfast and he will back off. It won’t even take so long. Once he realises that you are determined and that you are not budging, he will budge and stop nudging you. At that point, you go to the next point on your list. You will see that with some determination, you will be super pleased to look back and see your OCD diminishing and getting your life and your freedom back.Need a helping hand?If you feel that you could do with a therapist to guide you along with this, then online-therapy is a great choice.
I can also suggest an excellent book that you can get from Amazon that provides the worksheets for you and has helped thousands of people control their OCD. Clicking on the image will take you directly to Amazon to get the book: