Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental disorder that causes individuals to engage in physical actions or entertain thought patterns that seriously impair the ability of the individual to live a normal and happy life. OCD may manifest in repetitive actions, such as constantly washing the hands due to fear of germs, or becoming greatly distressed if forced to deviate from a typical routine. Fortunately, there are several strategies and treatments that can help control OCD and begin the process of healing from this type of emotional disorder.
One of the first steps in learning to control OCD is to identify the root causes for the unusual compulsion to think or act in a specific pattern. Many people find that working with a professional counselor can help to uncover those underlying motivations, making it possible to deal with events or concepts that led to the development of the OCD. At the same time, identifying these underlying causes helps to make the symptoms of OCD easier to understand, a factor that often make it easier to control OCD.
Many patients find that a particular therapeutic strategy known as cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) can help sufferers to control OCD symptoms. CBT seeks to help people with this disorder change the way they perceive their behaviors and thoughts, making it possible to slowly loosen the hold those obsessive thoughts and actions exert on their lives. The use of this approach is especially helpful if the individual is dealing with OCD and anxiety at the same time, since it helps to decrease the anxiety and minimizes the discomfort felt when attempting to change thought processes or compulsive habits.
Medication is also often helpful as a tool to control OCD. People who deal with depression and OCD may find that taking an anti-depressant helps to minimize the seemingly uncontrollable desire to engage in repetitive actions that serve no useful purpose. In like manner, an individual who is dealing with anxiety and OCD will sometimes find that the good feelings invoked by use of some type of anti-anxiety medication helps to lessen the need to engage in obsessive activities. When used in conjunction with counseling and therapy, various medications can often make it easier to control OCD on a day-to-day basis, while the therapy works toward achieving long-term freedom from the disorder.
Support groups are also very effective in helping to control OCD. People suffering with this condition often feel alone and isolated. Participating in a support group, either locally or online, helps to remind the individual that others are dealing with similar issues and that there is hope for improvement. The encouragement received from a support group is especially important when compulsive behavior or thoughts are particularly strong, and threatening to undermine the ability of the individual to function in social or other situations.
The exact combination of treatments used to control OCD will vary. OCD in children may or may not involve medication, and tends to focus more on counseling as a way to deal with the condition. When present in adults, medication along with therapy and support groups may be the ideal solution. Once a diagnosis for OCD is determined, planning a course of action with a health care professional is essential to dealing with and eventually overcoming obsessive compulsive disorder.