OCD: A Balance of 3
Seeking help for OCD can be extremely difficult for a number of reasons. For some sufferers, telling others about their intrusive thoughts is scary and embarrassing. Once they do, loved ones may not be supportive in their search for help. Others, live in countries or communities where OCD treatment is nearly impossible to find. Even if they reach diagnosis, there are no systems in place for helping them afterwards. Fortunately, in the age of the internet, more and more online resources are popping up.
Leading a happy and healthy life with OCD is very possible. However, doing so, requires a balance of three things: Education, Healthy Living and Treatment. There is no one size fits all approach for treating OCD. Creating this balance will be different for every person. The key is getting started on the right path and setting realistic treatment goals for yourself.
The right resources will empower you. Every sufferer should educate themselves on the symptoms, science and treatment options of OCD. In doing so, you’ll find the strength to share your story with friends, family, practitioners and the greater OCD community. You’ll also gain the confidence necessary to play an active role in your treatment plan, which is critical to your success. Education can also include reading OCD stories from other sufferers. Many people are comforted by learning about experiences that are similar to their own. It can bring to light unique coping mechanisms and provide an important sense of support.
As you research your condition, you may be tempted to seek reassurance you are not capable of acting on your thoughts. Instead, focus on accepting the uncertainty of your condition and seek professional treatment.
Healthy lifestyle choices matter. Experts agree that mindfulness practice, creative expression, nutrition and exercise may have positive effects for sufferers of OCD. We recommend that you start by meditating for 10 minutes, twice a day. The practice of meditation can be as simple as focusing on your breath, observing your thoughts and choosing not to judge them. Not only will meditation help relax your nervous system, it will serve as a powerful adjunct to Exposure Response Prevention (ERP) therapy. It is important to remember that while many sufferers are able to manage OCD or anxiety by relying primarily on mindfulness tactics, many people do require intensive therapy or medication as well. Do not compare your treatment plan to another’s. Just make sure that you are working healthy habits into your daily life.
Make sure to consult a clinical psychologist to ensure that your healthy choices are part of an integrated treatment plan. And remember that no matter what you pursue, you should never assign any meaning or value to your intrusive thoughts.
The path to treatment starts with you. There are numerous treatment options for OCD, however, the most trusted option is Exposure Response Prevention (ERP) therapy. ERP exposes you to the thoughts, images and objects that trigger anxiety, and gives you the tools you need to prevent yourself from responding to anxiety with compulsions and rituals. When seeking professional help, we recommend you work with a behavioral psychologist with expertise in OCD and ERP therapy. You should feel empowered to ask prospective psychologists about their qualifications, expertise and experience in treating patients with OCD. If, for any reason, you can’t find a local professional in your area, Skype or phone therapy can be an equally effective means of therapeutic treatment. As mentioned, ERP is the standard but it is not the only option. See below for information on additional types of OCD therapy and OCD medication.