How do you stop OCD thoughts

Obsessive-compulsive disorder

Characteristic of obsessive-compulsive disorder (engl. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, OCD) are obsessive thoughts and / or compulsive actions that the person concerned has to repeat over and over again without being able to control their number or intensity. These compulsions can trigger anxiety. The compulsive actions and thoughts impose themselves, the person concerned has little or no control over them. The activities are usually not experienced as meaningful.

It is very difficult for those affected to defend themselves against them. After the compulsions have been carried out, there is only a temporary relief, which is replaced by fears, feelings of guilt and shame, which in turn can trigger the obsessive thoughts and actions. Obsessive-compulsive disorder affects approximately 1% of the population.

Typical obsessive-compulsive symptoms are:

  • Fear of contagion (obsessive hand washing).
  • Fear that something bad could happen to someone or to yourself (spending hours coloring in disaster scenarios).
  • Unwanted / forbidden thoughts (sexuality, religion).
  • To have to put things in a certain order.
  • Collecting things that are unnecessary.
  • Having to continuously check and control certain things or processes.

Everyone knows situations like this: You are going on vacation and on the motorway suddenly the thought occurs to you: “Have I turned off the gas / light? Is the stove still burning? Have I locked the apartment? ”Normally, at some point you can stop these thoughts with some rational thought (or verification: you call your neighbor and ask him to check it out). You practically stop yourself from thinking: “But now these ideas are over!”.

It's not that easy with obsessive-compulsive disorder. One cannot ignore or control these thoughts. The thoughts or actions follow their own internal logic. You experience them as your own thoughts, but they do what they want. A control or regulation is only possible with great effort, and also only for a short time.

The quality of life of those affected is often considerably restricted and all actions and actions revolve around the obsessive-compulsive symptoms or attempts to prevent them. Ultimately, this leads to a handicap in important areas of life such as work, study and family.

If you have the following observations with you very often queue up and have been struggling with it for a long time, then it would make sense to visit medical professionals:

  • Do you wash or clean a lot?
  • Do you control a lot?
  • Do you have nagging thoughts that you want to get rid of but cannot?
  • Do you need a long time for everyday activities?
  • Are you concerned about order and symmetry?

Again: everyone has thoughts and tendencies in everyday life that are perfectionist or repeat themselves in a ritualized manner. The extent (how much, how often, how strongly the normal course of life is impaired, how much can I still regulate my thoughts) and the impossibility of using these tendencies flexibly make the problem.

Advice and therapy options

After a proper diagnosis by the psychiatric specialist, the dual strategy of drugs (antidepressants) and psychotherapy (behavioral therapy) has proven its worth. In psychotherapy, for example, one practices gradually unlearning certain stimulus-response couplings or overlaying them with other activities. The effectiveness of this method, especially for compulsive actions, is around 65-75%. Psychotherapy should include relapse prevention with so-called booster sessions, i.e. refreshing and strengthening strategies. Visiting a self-help group is advisable and helpful for many of those affected. An inpatient stay is important when there are suicidal thoughts and when there is serious neglect of areas of life.

In Passau, inpatient treatment would be possible at the district hospital. (Wörthstrasse 5, 94032 Passau).

In the process, it is important to trust the specialist staff. A diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive disorder cannot be made in a five-minute conversation. It is equally important to speak openly with family and close friends. Close reference persons can be helpful in the daily implementation of strategies developed in psychotherapy - and last but not least: you can confide in your loved ones and no longer have to try to hide!

All therapies take time and patience - but in many cases it is worth it!