What it’s Like Living with OCD

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health condition that can negatively impact your quality of life. If left untreated, you might experience difficulties at work, in your social life, and maintaining relationships with your family and others. You can treat OCD with the help of mental health professionals, and you can learn coping skills to live a full and happy life with this condition.

What Is OCD?

OCD is a mental health disorder usually classified under the umbrella of anxiety disorders. OCD is defined by obsessive thinking and compulsive behaviors that cause distress and anxiety. Your OCD might look different from others. While most with OCD have both obsessions and compulsions, you might have one characteristic without the other.

Signs and symptoms of OCD include:

  • Fear of contamination or sickness that includes excessive cleaning or hand-washing
  • Excessive feelings of doubt and trouble with uncertainty that lead to obsessively checking things like locked doors or ensuring that an appliance is turned off
  • Feeling intense stress and anxiety when things are not in a specific order
  • Worries about losing control over yourself and engaging in violent behaviors toward others or yourself
  • Unwanted thoughts and mental images, usually around taboo subjects, like aggression, sexuality, or religion
  • Irrational fears about acting inappropriately while in public
  • Patterns of behavior that revolve around completing tasks a specific number of times before moving on
  • Repeating a particular phrase, word, or prayer to yourself throughout your day over a fear of bad things occurring if you don’t

In most cases of OCD, compulsive behaviors are a result of obsessive thoughts and worries. The compulsive behaviors of those with OCD are a maladaptive strategy to reduce anxiety around uncontrollable thoughts. You might engage in a specific behavior until things “feel right” and you can move on with your day.

Unfortunately, these compulsive behaviors could take up a lot of your time and energy while also increasing feelings of shame and insecurity. Most people with OCD realize that these behaviors and thoughts are irrational, yet they cannot help themselves. 

What Is It Like to Live With OCD?

Living with OCD can be challenging and even debilitating if you don’t get treatment for your symptoms. According to the National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH), “Symptoms may come and go, ease over time, or worsen. People with OCD may try to help themselves by avoiding situations that trigger their obsessions, or they may use alcohol or drugs to calm themselves.” 

Avoidance behaviors and substance abuse as a form of self-medicating for OCD can negatively impact crucial areas in your life. Your symptoms might decrease your overall quality of life and your ability to maintain healthy relationships.

OCD’s Effect on Important Relationships

People with OCD might need constant reassurance from romantic partners in an attempt to overcome self-doubt. Romantic partners might find this overwhelming, needy, or clingy. They might also struggle to form meaningful connections with others when OCD symptoms occupy most of their thoughts.

In addition, those with obsessive thoughts regarding violence or unwanted sexual imagery often have family members and loved ones as the subject of these thoughts. Their family members or romantic partners could trigger these thoughts. People might feel guilty about having them, even though these thoughts are beyond their control.

Struggles at Work With OCD

You might struggle to focus or advance at work if you have OCD. Obsessive thoughts can be distracting and could get in the way of studying to advance your career. Since your symptoms might not be readily apparent to others in your workplace, your employer might think you are doing a poor job.

OCD and Your Social Life

You might struggle to make new friends or meet other people due to OCD. Your symptoms could flare up when in unfamiliar places, making it difficult to meet new people or attend social activities. Since OCD causes feelings of doubt, you might believe that other people won’t like you, limiting your confidence when making friends or dating.

What Causes Flare-Ups of OCD?

Symptoms of OCD might flare up during triggering situations or times of stress, much like other mental health conditions. Mental health disorders like OCD can be treated and managed throughout your lifetime. You might have periods of little to no symptoms mixed with times of increased or new symptoms.

You might have a flare-up of OCD in some of the following situations:

  • Unexpected life changes, like losing your job, moving, or a breakup
  • Drug and alcohol abuse could worsen your symptoms
  • Life transitions, like graduating from college, getting a new job, entering a romantic relationship, or having a child
  • Traumatic experiences, like physical or sexual assualt, a car accident, or a natural disaster

OCD is generally treated with medication, usually antidepressants, cognitive-behavioral therapy, or a combination of both. During treatment, you will also form coping strategies to manage flare-ups of OCD, like journaling, meditation, and peer support. When you get treatment for OCD, you can learn to manage your symptoms and live the high quality of life you deserve.

Treatment for OCD in South Florida

Stop letting your OCD dictate your life; it’s time to get help. Neuroscience Institute of South Florida is here to help you manage symptoms and flare-ups of OCD, so you can live the life you have always dreamed of. Call us today or visit our admissions page for more.

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