Living With OCD: How You Can Approach Treatment

how to manage OCD

Obsessive-compulsive disorder, more popularly known as OCD, is a mental health condition is characterized by a pattern of unwanted thoughts or fears (obsessions) that lead you to perform repetitive behaviors (compulsions). For example, a person with OCD who has an intense fear of germs may wash his or her hands until they begin to hurt.

Individuals with OCD need support from their parents, family, friends, and colleagues. Many people with the condition experience mild to moderate symptoms that they may be able to manage every day. However, some individuals suffer from severe symptoms, especially when they are under extreme stress and anxiety. 

There is no known cure for OCD. Fortunately, there are many available OCD treatments that can help people with the condition to cope. If you have OCD, here are a few the ideas on how you can approach treatment so that you can live a happy and prosperous life:

Accept Social Support

OCD symptoms may vary in intensity from person to person. In fact, some people have mild symptoms that don’t require professional care. If your symptoms are mild, talking to your loved ones about your condition may help you to keep your symptoms under control. Although you may feel embarrassed initially, knowing that you are with people who care for you and understand your situation may make you feel less anxious when you are with them. 

You can also benefit from joining online support groups. Support groups provide a safe venue to discuss your thoughts, problems, and challenges with other people who have OCD. Support groups may also provide with you helpful advice that may not be available elsewhere. You also have the opportunity to experience the joy of helping someone else who is struggling with OCD.

Make Home and Lifestyle Adjustments

Another way you can manage your obsessions, compulsions, and stress levels is by making home and lifestyle changes. For example, you can:

  • Practice meditation to help calm yourself during stressful situations.
  • Identify your triggers and stay away from them.
  • Try to get more restful sleep
  • Get physically active because exercise helps keep stress hormones in check.

Talk to a Licensed Therapist

Many people with OCD benefit from going to therapy. Although it is beneficial to speak with family members and friends about your issues, talking to a therapist is highly recommended as he or she is trained to deal with mental health issues like OCD. Your therapist may introduce you to effective therapeutic approaches such cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) is a component of CBT and it involves gradually exposing you to an object or situation you fear so that you can learn to resist the urge to perform compulsive rituals. Over time, these therapeutic approaches can help you to enjoy a higher quality of life.

Take Prescription Medication

People who have intense OCD symptoms may be encouraged to take medication and counseling. Antidepressant or psychiatric medication may be prescribed by your psychiatrist or doctor if you are unable to manage your OCD symptoms with psychotherapy alone. When taking medication, the goal is to control your symptoms with the lowest dosage possible. So it make take months for you to notice a significant improvement in your symptoms.

Antidepressant and psychiatric medications often have negative side effects. So it is important to speak to your doctor about the medication that is right for your needs and how you can minimize any side effects. You are strongly encouraged to stick to your prescribed dosage when taking medication. Of course, alcohol, smoking and illicit drugs should be avoided.

Try Comprehensive Treatment Programs

Sometimes the combination of therapy and medication may not be enough to deal with severe OCD symptoms. For cases like these, participation in an intensive outpatient program (IOP) or partial hospitalization program (PHP), deep brain stimulation (DBS), or transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) may be effective. However, it is highly recommended that you speak with your doctor about the advantages and disadvantages of each type of treatment before you make a decision.

The Bottom Line

People diagnosed with OCD need to realize that there is no known cure for the condition. However you can effectively manage this mental health issue with positive lifestyle changes, therapy, and medication.