How to Stop OCD: Overcoming and Dealing with OCD
How to stop OCD symptoms is your primary concern if you're living with OCD. As you probably already know, many people have trouble dealing with OCD. A number of factors influence the intensity of symptoms in people with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Remember that up to 80 percent of all people have strange and bizarre thoughts on a regular basis. Since this indicates that having these unwanted thoughts is normal, what really matters is your reaction to them, not the fact that you have them.
How to Stop OCD Thoughts
Learning how to stop OCD thoughts before they start to cause intense anxiety represents the first step in overcoming your OCD. Before you can stop the obsessive, intrusive thoughts, you need an understanding of how they begin. This will greatly help in dealing with OCD. Imagine this scenario:
You may believe that having a disturbing thought, such as hitting someone with your car equals the moral equivalent of actually doing it. You may think that just by thinking about it, you may lose control while driving and hit and injure a pedestrian. Because of this, you might begin to think these thoughts pose a danger to others and begin to scrutinize them closely. You may try to push these thoughts you perceive as dangerous out of your mind or suppress them.
Studies indicate that this cycle of close thought scrutiny and subsequent attempts to suppress them can lead to the development of obsessive thoughts. If you allow this thought process to continue, unchecked, your anxiety will magnify and you may feel the urge to perform a compulsive ritual to stop the repetitive, disturbing thoughts.
Tips for Dealing with OCD Thoughts
One way of dealing with OCD thoughts involves thinking about them in a new way, often called mindfulness. Try to remember that your thoughts just represent a string of words generated by the brain. A string of words is not inherently dangerous and cannot cause anything to happen without accompanying physical action. Remember that you do not have to take thoughts seriously simply because they popped into your mind. Most importantly, consider that unwanted thoughts don't necessarily represent your true character, values, or morals. Research shows that, more often than not, OCD thoughts represent things that the person having them finds the most repulsive and disgusting. Think about it. If the thoughts didn't disturb you, you wouldn't think them dangerous or obsess over them and try to suppress them. Mindfully working to form a more objective view of your thoughts will help you in dealing with OCD.
Other self-help tips for overcoming OCD symptoms and thoughts include:
- Get enough sleep
- Identify disturbing thought triggers
- Express your emotions
- Keep a thought journal
- Reach out to others for support
It's also important that you talk to a mental health professional and ask for information about how to stop OCD thoughts and symptoms. A physician or therapist with experience in treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder can develop a complete strategy to help you with your condition. This may involve prescription drugs, cognitive behavior therapy, and mindfulness exercises like the ones above.
Last Updated: 03 February 2017
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD