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Understanding OCD; Why It's So Debilitating!

I was teaching my students in one of my training schools this weekend about how OCD can show up and perhaps most importantly, how to help people to manage it. Some of my students were shocked at just how debilitating it can be for a sufferer as they’d only seen the stereotypes shown on TV (such as having to wash their hands or have things in order), and whilst that can be part of the symptomology of OCD, they hadn’t really seen the full impact of the disorder. This inspired me to create this blog to help people understand the condition better.


Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, commonly known as OCD, is a mental health disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. OCD is characterized by recurring and persistent thoughts or impulses (obsessions) that are difficult to control, and repetitive behaviors or mental acts (compulsions) that individuals feel compelled to perform. While some people may experience mild symptoms, for others, OCD can be severely debilitating, impacting their quality of life in significant ways.


OCD hand washing
Woman with OCD washing her hands

So, why is OCD so debilitating? There are several reasons:


1. The intrusive nature of obsessions: Obsessions are intrusive and unwanted thoughts or impulses that can be distressing and cause significant anxiety. These thoughts often revolve around themes such as contamination, harm, or morality, and can be difficult to shake off. For someone with OCD, the obsession can become all-consuming and interfere with their ability to focus on anything else.


2. The need to perform compulsions: Compulsions are repetitive behaviours or mental acts that are performed in response to obsessions, with the goal of reducing anxiety or preventing a feared outcome. While compulsions may provide temporary relief, they ultimately reinforce the obsessive cycle and can become time-consuming and interfere with daily life.


3. The impact on daily life: OCD can impact many aspects of daily life, including work, school, and relationships. For example, someone with contamination obsessions may avoid touching certain objects or shaking hands, making it difficult to interact with others or complete tasks. The need to perform compulsions may also disrupt daily routines, such as taking an excessive amount of time to complete a task, which can lead to difficulties at work or school.


4. The stigma surrounding the disorder: Unfortunately, there is still a lot of stigma surrounding mental health disorders, including OCD. This can make it difficult for people with OCD to seek help and support, which can exacerbate symptoms and make it more challenging to manage the disorder.


5. The co-occurrence of other mental health disorders: OCD is often accompanied by other mental health disorders, such as depression or anxiety. These co-occurring disorders can further exacerbate symptoms and make it more challenging to manage OCD.


All of these reasons and more can contribute to the severity of OCD and can play a part in your ability to get back in control of your life again. There are many treatment approaches out there and you’ll want to find the one that works for you. The approach that I take is a gentle and positive approach to building up your self-control, re-programming your subconscious mind using hypnotherapy and perhaps most importantly, it won’t involve me telling you that you have to face your fears head-on as you would in exposure therapy.


I hope that you’ve found this blog helpful and if you know someone who may benefit from reading it, please feel free to pass it on to them.

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