Not everyone who experiences anxiety or mild symptoms of obsessive-compulsive order needs – or wants – to take medicine to curb intrusive thoughts or preoccupied behaviors. Fortunately, other options exist. The first thing to do is educate yourself about OCD and then find self-help tips to manage symptoms and provide comfort.
What Is OCD?
“Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a common, chronic, and long-lasting disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and/or behaviors (compulsions) that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over.”
OCD often features specific themes (like fear of getting contaminated by germs). You may compulsively scrub your hands until they’re raw to ease this. If you experience OCD, you could be ashamed and humiliated by the condition, but therapy can be helpful.
Know The Symptoms
If you’re consumed by any of the following for an hour or more each day, you may be suffering from OCD.
- Unnerving thoughts or mental images
- Fear of shouting out vulgarities or insults
- Obsession with order, balance, or precision
- Recurring intrusive thoughts (noises, pictures, words, or numbers)
- You fear misplacing an important item
- Excessive, ritualized actions (such as bathing or brushing your teeth)
- Keeping household items polished
- A specific arrangement of certain items
- Repeated testing of locks, switches, or appliances
OCD Self-Help Tips
Suppose your odd or eccentric behavior leads you to believe you’re suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder. In that case, there are ways to manage the symptoms and return a semblance of control to your life. Here are OCD self-help tips that might help.
- Pay attention to your diet and eat regular, healthy meals. This means more nuts, seeds, eggs, beans, lean meat, fruits, leafy green vegetables, and whole grains and fewer helpings of processed food, foods high in sugar, caffeinated beverages or food, alcohol, tobacco, etc. and recreational drugs.
- If you’ve been diagnosed with OCD by a medical doctor or mental health specialist and have received a prescription for medication, take it as directed until told otherwise.
- Get a good night’s sleep. Restful sleep is the best way to rejuvenate your mind and body, so try following a regular sleep schedule and looking for ways to wind down before going to bed. You can try many things, and follow this advice on how many hours of sleep are needed for your age group.
- Stay active and try a little exercise or other enjoyable physical activity. One of the things we know about OCD and anxiety is that your body releases a hormone called cortisol in higher than needed levels. Your body needs to release serotonin – a “feel good” hormone to counteract that. This happens through exercise, which keeps cortisol in check and has numerous other health benefits.
- A characteristic of OCD is that it can send you into an endless loop of searching for answers or solutions to things that don’t need to be solved instantly, every day. The irrational part of your brain (the amygdala) works overtime when you’re anxious, and you need to convince it to do just the opposite.
- Stay connected. People who suffer from OCD will sometimes self-isolate to start and finish a particular task that their brain screams and tells them to “Just do it!” It can feel easier to ignore family and friends. But don’t – reach out to loved ones, accept that invitation to dinner, or just talk on the phone.
- Find a support group. There are many local and national support groups to help people with OCD. More information can be found here or here.
Diagnosis & Treatment
On the surface, diagnosing OCD may seem easy, but it’s hard and can be time-intensive. It normally involves a physical examination to uncover a medical cause for your symptoms, and then if there are none, a psychiatric assessment. During a psychiatric exam, you’ll be quizzed about your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors as triggers, as well as any personal or family history of mental illness. Your healthcare provider also will compare your symptoms with criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
Upon diagnosis, your healthcare provider may recommend ongoing care like psychotherapy, medicine, and treatment like ketamine.
If you suffer from OCD, medication isn’t your only option to combat the symptoms. Contact us today to learn more about innovative treatments that may help you find relief.