Rarely Interacting Affects the Brain
- Keep persistent fears from manifesting
- Relieve the distress caused by the constant invasive thoughts.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder SymptomsThere are two main symptoms that characterise OCD—compulsions and obsessions. You can have one or the other or you can have both. Unfortunately these are time consuming and significantly impact your day-to-day life. They can affect you at work and at school. In fact, OCD can prevent you from leaving the house. You logically know your obsessive thoughts are not true and that acting out your compulsions will not help. But you just cannot help yourself.
Unwanted Obsessive ThoughtsUnwanted obsessive thoughts return no matter how much you try to ignore them. Because of their persistence it makes you feel as if what you are thinking is true, or could come true, if you do not do something to stop them. Obsessive thoughts can vary but the following are some common themes:
- The need to have certain things aligned or in a certain order or something bad could happen.
- Worried about throwing anything away.
- Obsessing about dirt, germs or getting sick.
- Worrying about hurting someone or yourself.
- Explicit thoughts of violence or sex.
- Worrying about you or your family’s health
- Fearing you will say something obscene or offensive.
- Wondering about your sexual orientation or desires.
Compulsive BehavioursCompulsive behaviours are a response to obsessive thoughts. You feel compelled to act them out to relieve the anxiety or to keep your thoughts from coming true. And you may feel the need to repeat the actions over and over again until you feel everything is alright or perfect. It can become a ritual. And, if you make a mistake, you can feel that you need to start over from the beginning. Everything has to be perfect to get relief. OCD compulsive behaviours can include:
- Constantly seeking others’ reassurance.
- Continually washing your hands, other body parts or objects.
- Needing to have objects aligned in a certain way.
- Continually thinking about what you did to make sure you have not hurt someone.
- Collecting certain things or buying more than one of the same thing.
- Repeating phrases over and over again.
- Hiding things that you may use to hurt someone or yourself.
Causes of Obsessive Compulsive DisorderIt is unclear what causes OCD, but a family history could mean you have a chance of also developing the condition. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, some imaging studies of the brain showed that people with OCD had differences in their brain’s subcortical structure and frontal cortex. There appears to be a connection between this and OCD but there are ongoing studies to further understand it. Also there appears to be some evidence of links between how your brain reacts to serotonin and OCD. Serotonin regulates your sleep and moods, and is a neurotransmitter that has other important functions.
Who is at Risk?While genetics may put you at risk of developing OCD, there are other risk factors:
- Childhood abuse and trauma Studies show there are links between childhood abuse, neglect and trauma and developing OCD.
- High levels of stress. High levels of stress at home, school or work can make OCD symptoms worse or put you at risk.
- A brain injury. Some research shows that OCD symptoms may appear after a brain injury.
- Personality traits. If you have certain personality traits, such as perfectionism, trouble dealing with uncertainty or feel overly responsible for what happens around you, may be factors that put you at risk of OCD.
- Eating disorders
- Major depressive disorder
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
- Social anxiety disorder
- Tourette syndrome.
Tips to Help YouThe two best ways to deal with OCD is therapy and self-care. Here are some tips that may help you.
Get MovingAnxiety causes your body to release too much cortisol. While it can be good in moderation, it can be harmful when you get too much. Get regular exercise to keep your cortisol levels under control when you are anxious.. Exercise has multiple benefits including keeping you in good shape and reducing anxiety.
Eat Well and RegularlyWhile it is important to eat a healthy diet, it is also important to eat regularly. Your blood sugar drops when you are hungry. This can make you irritable and tired. Make sure you start the day with breakfast. And replace large meals at lunch and tea time with several small meals during the day. Try to eat:
- Fruits and vegetables high in complex carbohydrates and whole grains that work to maintain blood sugar levels.
- Proteins such as meat, eggs and beans that help keep your body stay better balanced.
- Seeds and nuts that are full of healthy nutrients.