Understanding OCD and Its Impact: How to Break Free

Our minds can sometimes play tricks on us, making us believe that we have to perform certain rituals to suppress our negative thoughts and keep ourselves or our loved ones safe.

Understanding OCD is the first step to breaking free from its grip.

What is OCD?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD is a form of anxiety disorder. It involves unwanted and uncomfortable thoughts that return (obsessions) and drive a person to do something repeatedly (compulsion).

OCD impacts around 1 in 10 adults and 1 in 100 children, or 2.3 percent of the US population.

If your obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors are making your life difficult, psychotherapy can give provide a safe and supportive place to learn how to deal with your OCD and regain control of your life.

What are Obsessions?

Obsessions are recurring, disturbing thoughts, images, or drives that create tremendous distress. The most common obsessions involve:

  • Organization and order
  • Fear of contamination or aversion to dirt
  • Fear of causing damage to others
  • Religion
  • Sex.

What are Compulsions?

OCD sufferers use rituals or compulsions to reduce the anxiety that obsessions cause. But while compulsions may temporarily relieve tension, they are ineffective, consuming a great deal of your time and interfering with your emotional and physical well-being.

You may experience obsessions, compulsions, or both. If you don’t get help for your OCD, it could get worse and seriously impact your well-being.

How Do You Know If You Have OCD?

We all have random thoughts that pop into our heads. But obsessions are entirely different from fleeting thoughts that cross our minds regularly. What sets them apart is their upsetting ability to invade every waking moment, refusing to go away and leaving you feeling distressed. Then you feel the urge to do something to make these distressing thoughts disappear.

So, whenever you enter the room, you turn the light on and off five times because something terrible could happen. When doing your work, you must erase and rewrite words 20 times until they look “just right,” or else you’ll feel all uneasy and stressed out.

But compulsions make things worse because they eat up so much of your time and mess with your work, relationships, and everyday life.

Even though you are aware that these behaviors don’t make sense, you nevertheless feel like you must perform them.

Why? Because OCD is never a choice.

But you’re not alone in this struggle. It can be incredibly overwhelming, but there are ways to cope with these thoughts and ease the distress they cause.

What Causes OCD?

While research suggests that OCD runs in families, genes are not solely to blame. Instead, it is more likely that a combination of hereditary and environmental factors causes OCD. Sometimes stress from life transitions or traumatic events, such as the death of a loved one or abuse, can trigger OCD.

How to Manage Your OCD: The Benefits of Psychotherapy

Counseling for OCD may help if you struggle to manage your symptoms and go about your regular life.

Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is an effective treatment for OCD that may help you:

  • Identify your triggers.
  • Acknowledge your negative thoughts and behaviors.
  • Develop strategies to replace them with more positive ones.

Most of the time, OCD symptoms get better with cognitive-behavioral therapies such as exposure response prevention, or ERP, which involves repeatedly exposing yourself to the source of your worry until you learn to accept the distress your obsession causes without resorting to compulsions. CBT techniques are sometimes paired with medication.

Self-Care for OCD

You may, however, develop strategies to control your obsessive-compulsive disorder symptoms, such as the following:

  • Prioritize self-care to reduce stress and improve your mental health.
  • Surround yourself with positive people.
  • Practice mindfulness to increase self-awareness and learn to observe your thoughts without becoming overwhelmed.
  • Engage in activities that help you feel positive and relaxed.
  • Exercise regularly.


Obsessions may be highly irritating and upsetting since you have no control over your thoughts. You may adopt routines to cope with OCD thoughts and reduce the torment they cause, but these activities may not provide long-term comfort and add to your stress.

However, it is possible to free yourself from obsessions and compulsions. Psychotherapy, medication (in certain circumstances), and self-care strategies help reduce OCD symptoms and assist people in breaking free from OCD.



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