All You Need to Know About OCD


Alyssa Belisle, Healthy Living

Have you ever been unable to let something go? Lee goes through this multiple times a day. Constantly obsessing over simple things that aren’t a big deal is very overwhelming. It started off with wanting organization and cleanliness, to spending hours moving furniture around a room until everything is perfectly spaced and cleaning rooms and countertops over and over again. After that she started worrying about germs and the health of herself and others. This included counting to a certain number while washing her hands again and again until they were dry and starting to rash and bleed.

Like Lee, Harry has obsessive thoughts and compulsions too. Harry constantly worries about accidentally saying something wrong or offending people. When turning a light on or off Harry would flick the switch 10 times. Harry often felt that if he didn’t follow out certain compulsions that someone terrible would happen to him or someone he loves. If a piece of a game was missing he would feel high levels of anxiety and frantically search for it until it was found. Eventually, Harry became too anxious to leave this house and engage with other people.

OCD, short for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder should not be ignored. It affects approximately 1 in 100 children. This mental health disorder occurs when people experience obsessions followed by compulsions. A diagnosis is not made unless the obsessions and compulsions become extreme, time consuming, and get in the way of important activities.

OCD can occur at any age, though the most common age ranges are between 8-12 years old and between the late teenage years and early adulthood. Living with OCD can be difficult, but it can be cured by Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and/or medication. Healthy coping mechanisms can help as well.

Most adults with OCD are able to tell that their thoughts and actions are unrealistic, but most children can’t. Some signs of OCD can include hoarding, frequent handwashing, checking appliances, looking for constant reassurance, overzealous cleaning, counting, organization, fear of violence or misfortunes, and more.

Psychiatrist Jeffrey Schwartz suggests recognizing that your intrusive obsessive thoughts are a result of OCD, realize the intrusiveness of your thoughts or urges are caused by OCD, work around those thoughts by focusing on something else that interests you, and tell yourself that your thought has no meaning and not to pay attention to it, as solutions for conquering obsessive thoughts.

Relaxation techniques such as yoga, breathing techniques, and meditation are very helpful as well as getting enough sleep each night.

If you struggle with OCD please remember that you are definitely not alone. Unfortunately many others struggle with OCD as well. Support groups can be a great way to share your thoughts with someone who understands, make some friends, and overall receive help.

Some more methods for ridding obsessive thoughts are:

1.       Write it down: Writing down your thoughts and feelings can be a good way to recognize how realistic your thoughts actually are and how repetitive they can be.

2.       Distract yourself with something you enjoy: My favorite things to do in my spare time are listen to music, hang out with friends and family, and watching shows. Doing something that makes you happy can distract you from unwanted thoughts and feelings.

3.       Talk to someone you trust. Confiding in a good friend, family member, teacher, or counsellor can make you feel much better. Even if they don’t have a solution to your worries, just confiding in them can make you feel less anxious.