How to Deal with OCD

FEATURED
February 12, 2022

Nue Life

Nue Life
8 MIN READ

Top points

  • OCD involves persistent, unwanted thoughts and feelings that lead to compulsive behaviors that can significantly impact daily functioning.
  • There’s no cure for OCD, but you can implement tactics that help reduce intrusive thoughts and behaviors.
  • A recent study found that small doses of ketamine can immediately relieve OCD symptoms with sustained results.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder: it’s not as common as depression or general anxiety disorder, but its effects are pretty serious on those who do have it. It can disrupt a person’s life in many different ways.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to keep your obsessions and compulsions at bay. OCD doesn’t have to rule over your life. If you take the correct steps, you can find relief from your symptoms.

Today, we’re going to dive into the details of OCD and how it affects people. After we get a basic understanding, we can go through helpful tactics of dealing with symptoms and effective treatments that can help.

What Is OCD?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is an anxiety disorder. It causes a person to have worries and fears that can’t be controlled or reasoned with. The person then attempts to manage those worries and fears with certain habits or “rituals.”

Anxiety Disorder

OCD is a serious but somewhat common mental health disorder, and it’s a bit unique. OCD causes persistent, unwanted thoughts that rarely go away. These thoughts cause stress and alterations in behavior.

What Causes OCD?

Scientists are unsure what exactly causes OCD, but they know it is not limited to one cause. There are biological factors at play since OCD tends to be genetic.

But there are also potential environmental stressors that could contribute to OCD. Some studies even suggest that the streptococcal virus may trigger or worsen OCD.

How It Affects Daily Life

When these obsessions and compulsions get out of hand, they can affect daily life. An official diagnosis occurs once obsessions and compulsions become incredibly distressing and when they take up at least an hour of each day.

Many people with OCD spend several hours each day going through their ritualistic compulsions. OCD can also affect your life by causing avoidance of the things that stress you out.

The problem is that compulsions do not ease anxiety. They provide short-term relief, but in the long run, they only prolong the anxiety by convincing a person that something bad will happen if they don’t perform their compulsions.

Dealing With OCD

You are not a slave to your obsessions or compulsions— you can implement tactics into your daily life that may help you manage your OCD better.

Although the following are not cures for OCD, these tactics can help you to take a little bit more control over your thoughts and behaviors and make it easier to deal with your symptoms so that you can take a step toward healing.

Join a Support Group

An incredibly important step is to join an OCD support group. Being open about your stressors and symptoms can be incredibly useful. It can help you feel more comfortable about your OCD and feel less alone.

Being able to open up about your OCD to other OCD sufferers who understand what you’re going through can be a liberating experience. Talking about your symptoms in a safe environment free of judgment is a great way to experience freedom.

If it’s not possible for you to join a group like this, it’s still important to open up. Try confiding in a family member or close friend. It’s important to talk it out to feel more comfortable about your situation and work to remove the stress surrounding your OCD.

Minimize Stress

Reducing stress is a critical step in managing OCD. Because OCD is a stress disorder, you may experience an increase in your symptoms during times of intense stress.

This is one of the most challenging aspects of OCD. It perpetuates a vicious cycle. Upsetting obsessions give rise to compulsions that only work to further your stress. But the cycle of OCD can start to be broken if you work to reduce stress in other areas of your life.

Make sure you take time to relax and decompress every day. Spend time pursuing hobbies that you enjoy. Be with the people you love and who make you laugh. Maybe take up a relaxation technique like yoga or meditation.

All of these can help to reduce stress in other areas of your life, which can, in turn, potentially allow you to manage your symptoms.

Healthy Lifestyle

It’s also vital to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Part of this is to help reduce stress. But also, OCD is like any ailment or mental illness; a healthy lifestyle can make for a healthier you.

The three prominent aspects to consider regarding a healthy lifestyle are sleep, diet, and exercise.

Good exercise can help to promote health all around. And a healthy diet with balanced macronutrients can help you maintain balanced blood sugar, helping to keep your mood stable. It’s also important to make sure you’re drinking enough water to help with concentration, mood, and overall health.

But sleep is especially important in this category. A lack of sleep can aggravate most mental health conditions, including OCD, so you must develop a regular sleeping pattern. Go to bed and wake up around the exact time every day, and set up a nightly ritual to help yourself wind down at night.

Cutting out alcohol, caffeine, and sugary foods can also help to support healthy sleep. And make sure you avoid screen time for an hour before bed. Exposure to light can make it difficult to get quality sleep.

Treatment To Alleviate Symptoms

Sometimes, lifestyle changes aren’t enough to manage OCD, which doesn’t make you a bad person. It just means you need a little extra assistance in overcoming this obstacle.

Luckily, there are treatments available that can help you get your OCD to a manageable place. Let’s look at a few of them.

Behavioral Therapy

A couple of different types of therapy have proven to be incredibly effective in helping people manage their symptoms.

The first type is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT. In this method, therapists or psychologists help patients analyze their obsessions, find out where they originate and look at what behaviors they influence.

This therapy helps a person to change the thinking surrounding their obsessions or compulsions. This type of therapy can help you learn healthy coping mechanisms, thus creating new thought patterns and healthier behaviors.

The other type of therapy is called exposure and response prevention, or ERP. A therapist will expose you to things that trigger your symptoms and then encourage and help you to resist their compulsions. This resistance activates various brain parts and can help you learn new behaviors that don’t reinforce your OCD.

Therapy can be effective, especially in mild and moderate cases, but sometimes, additional treatment is needed.

Medication

Many people turn to medicine for assistance with their symptoms. Doctors commonly prescribe antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, to assist with OCD.

SSRIs are somewhat effective at reducing symptoms in patients who struggle with anxiety disorders. They target serotonin, which is commonly associated with positive mood and healthy thinking.

Although SSRIs can effectively reduce symptoms, there is a high rate of symptom relapse after treatment ends. Because of this, many patients require long-term maintenance treatment after SSRI treatment or have to stay on SSRIs for incredibly long periods. Not to mention, they take weeks to start working, so they don’t provide immediate relief.

These are two of the only treatments out there for OCD, which warrants implementing additional treatment options that offer more substantial, more sustained effects.

Ketamine Therapy

One such promising therapy is ketamine. Ketamine is a psychedelic that is commonly used as anesthesia.

In recent decades, scientists have discovered the benefits of ketamine for various mental illnesses, including treatment-resistant depression and anxiety.

Further study has shown that it is also an effective treatment for OCD. One study showed that small doses of ketamine could reduce OCD behaviors immediately and sustain that reduction.

Ketamine works as an NMDA receptor antagonist, targeting glutamate, one of the most prominent neurotransmitters in the brain. By increasing glutamate, ketamine helps your brain form new neural connections.

This gives you a chance to form new thought patterns and healthy behaviors. At Nue Life, we focus on holistic treatment to make sure you walk away from ketamine therapy with meaningful takeaways as well as new, positive neural pathways. With Nue Life ketamine treatment, you can take your thoughts back.

Conclusion

OCD is a complex condition to navigate, but it is not impossible. The symptoms of OCD don’t have to run your life. Things like therapy, medication or ketamine treatment, support groups, and stress management techniques can help you find the healing and wholeness that you deserve.

So take the next step. Make those small lifestyle changes that can help you manage your OCD symptoms and seek the right treatment for your OCD. Mental wellness is just around the corner. Run and get it!

Sources

How to Cope with OCD | Valley Oaks Health

Ketamine induces immediate and delayed alterations of OCD-like behavior | PubMed

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) | Johns Hopkins Medicine

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) | Symptoms & Causes | Boston Children’s Hospital  

SSRIs in the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder | PubMed

Growing consensus on link between strep and obsessive-compulsive disorder | NCBI

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