It isn’t always easy to understand a friend or family member with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Many people with loved ones who have the condition wonder, “What does it feel like having OCD?” From the outside looking in, your loved one’s obsessions and compulsions don’t seem to make much sense. They also know their compulsions are illogical but that knowledge alone isn’t convincing enough to calm their obsessions.
Getting an idea of what it feels like to have OCD is a good first step toward empathizing with your loved one. They don’t intend their behavior to be frustrating; they simply cannot alleviate their anxiety until they take action. Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a debilitating condition and can keep people from living productive lives when left untreated.
How does it feel to have OCD?
Categorized as an anxiety disorder, OCD is characterized by patterns of obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are unwanted, intrusive thoughts, and compulsions are the behaviors carried out to alleviate the obsessions. Compulsions include counting, lining up items, cleaning incessantly, or checking things like locks or the stove.
People with OCD describe the condition as feeling like they are not in control of their brains. Their intrusive thoughts involve distressing and horrendous images that they can’t shake. They include things like someone breaking into their home, family members dying, or something bad happening to them.
Then their mind insists that these bad things won’t happen if they act on their compulsions. The thoughts force them to check the locks on their doors, ensure they didn’t leave the stove on or rearrange items on the shelf a certain way or a specific number of times. There may be no real connection between the obsession and the compulsion (i.e., my mother will die if I don’t clean my room properly), but that doesn’t make the paralyzing anxiety any less real.
Can you overcome OCD?
Following through on compulsions provides short-term relief from obsessions but only makes the condition worse in the long run. The longer a person avoids seeking help, the deeper the cycle of obsessions and compulsions runs. Thankfully, treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder is a helpful solution. While there is no “cure” for OCD, over time, treatment equips people with the skills needed to relieve obsessions without acting on compulsions.
OCD treatment typically involves a combination of psychotherapy and medication. There are no FDA-approved medications specifically for OCD, but anti-anxiety medications are a useful tool. They provide some relief from the intrusive thoughts so people can incorporate the skills they learn in psychotherapy.
Some therapeutic approaches, such as exposure and response prevention, were developed primarily for people with OCD. These specialized techniques recognize the complexities of the condition and adapt treatment methods appropriately.
Lifeskills South Florida is a mental health treatment network that understands the intricacies of obsessive-compulsive disorder. We recognize that not everyone benefits from a singular approach to care. Instead, we provide highly individualized treatment plans based on each person’s needs.
If you or a loved one are struggling with obsessive-compulsive disorder, we can help. The programs at Lifeskills South Florida are designed to lay the foundation for sustained recovery. To learn more about our facilities, please call us at 866-321-9430 or complete our contact form to connect with an admissions counselor today.