Effects of OCD: Living with OCD
Effects of OCD Devastating
The effects of OCD can wreak havoc on an individual's life. The obsessions and compulsions can burn up many hours in a person's day, which interferes with family life and social activities. Obviously, this can also have an adverse effect on success at school and work. It's important to remember that getting OCD therapy from a mental health professional can alleviate many of the effects of OCD. OCD will not resolve on its own. You must seek help.
Living with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
People living with obsessive-compulsive disorder experience a number of detrimental effects due to their condition. Some of the possible outcomes of living with OCD and pure OCD include:
- Thinking you're crazy – when you keep having obsessive thoughts that intrude on your everyday life, coupled with strong urges to perform certain behaviors and rituals, you may begin to think you're crazy if you don't understand the condition. A therapist can provide treatment for these problems and get your brain working more normally.
- Isolation – Isolation represents one of the effects of OCD on relationships. The person with OCD is under an immense amount of pressure to complete their rituals. The time spent performing these compulsive behaviors is also exhausting. Both the pressure and exhaustion make it difficult to interact with others in social situations, leading to isolation and loneliness. Isolation worsens when the individual avoids leaving home because some public situations may trigger the need to do rituals.
- Depression and low self-esteem – the longer you suffer with the effects of OCD without help, the more you'll feel powerless and out of control. Feeling this way leads to depression and a degraded self- esteem.
- Anger – it's common for the person suffering from OCD and his or her family members and loved ones to experience some form of anger due to the disorder. Some family members may blame the person with OCD for his behaviors as if they were a choice. This represents one of the most adverse OCD effects on family because it puts the blame on the mentally ill person.
- Resentment – family members often have resentment toward the OCD sufferer because they feel they must isolate themselves from friends to avoid embarrassment because of their child's or spouse's compulsive behavior. This need to hide the illness fosters the resentment.
- Co-opting family members – family members, living with someone with OCD, can become involved into enabling his or her compulsions, allowing the victim to remain in ill. In these cases, the enabling family members also need therapy along with the OCD patient. Therapy can help the enabling family member to shift his mindset from resentment and anger to understanding and support.
Physical Effects of OCD
The long-term physical effects of OCD can negatively impact a person's health. Individuals living with OCD experience incredible pressure as they feel an intense urge to perform their rituals and perform them properly. Long-term, this pressure and the exhaustion due to working the rituals for hours each day can lead to heart disease and ulcers. Those whose ritual involves hand washing 100 times per day or more can develop serious skin lesions and infections. Other people may wash their hair so fervently and often that they end up with lesions on their scalp that could become infected.
How to Live with OCD
Some of the best advice on how to live with OCD urges people to educate themselves about their condition. As with any chronic illness, becoming an expert about your disorder will help you to cope with it more effectively. Read up on obsessive compulsive disorder information and how others have learned to cope.
- Learn triggers that worsen your symptoms – you've got to identify specific triggers that set off the obsessive thoughts before you can come up with effective coping strategies.
- Everyday life stress frequently triggers OCD symptoms – people with OCD have a lower tolerance for everyday stress than others. Avoid allowing yourself to become overly stressed with the pressures of everyday life.
- Get enough sleep – stress effects sleep deprived people more than it does those who've had enough relaxing time and sleep.
- Eat a nutritionally sound diet – eat food that's rich in nutrients and low in preservatives and additives. Come up with a menu plan that includes an array of fresh foods you enjoy and that you can prepare with ease. Keep healthy snacks on hand like a snack bag of almonds or pistachios.
- Break big problems down into small chunks – even the most carefree, easy going person can become stressed and overwhelmed when trying to tackle a large problem all at once, even more so for those living with OCD. Break a daunting problem down into manageable chunks. If you have a huge work project, take one small part and do it while putting the rest aside. Then move onto the next small portion.
- Deal with issues immediately – If you're having an issue that's causing you to OCD symptoms, deal with the issue immediately and directly. If you're having a disagreement with someone, calmly and deliberately talk it out until it's resolved. If you've put off an important task or assignment, stop procrastinating and get it done. Once you do this, the stressor is neutralized.
- Address emotions – Sometimes emotional situations can trigger OCD symptoms. Addressing your emotions mindfully can alleviate the OCD symptoms. If you're feeling afraid about an upcoming meeting, go over your preparations to remind yourself that you're ready. If you made a mistake and it's upsetting you, sit down and make a list of the positive things you learned from the mistake. Talk to a friend if you feel sad, depressed, or angry about something for which you can't find resolution. Invite your friend to go somewhere or do somewhere with you to remove yourself from the situation.
People with typical OCD and pure OCD can live successful, happy lives. Your mental health professional can determine the level and type of treatment you need. He or she can give you strategies and other tools to help you cope with the effects of OCD when on your own. Using the tools and strategies consistently can help you maintain your composure, make living with OCD easier and greatly improve quality of life.
Last Updated: 03 February 2017
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD