(BlackDoctor.org) — OCD—obsessive-compulsive disorder—causes people to become fixated on anything from germs to accidents to injuries, which, in turn, leads to developing rituals to calm these obsessive thoughts. Some people with this anxiety disorder develop intrusive thoughts that they will inadvertently harm someone else.
If you’re struggling with OCD, here are some tips that can help:
Explore your anxieties. Be honest about subjects that provoke your anxiety and then explore which fears are truly realistic and which aren’t. Anxiety loves ignorance, and anxieties are generated by these images in one’s mind. The imagery becomes so intense that you start to believe it. Challenging the validity of your obsessions can help offset some of your fear and discomfort.
Make a list. Write down your obsessions and compulsions, and slowly try to reduce your compulsive behaviors. Actively try to cut back on these behaviors: If you check the door 10 times before bed, try checking it only twice.
Acknowledge what is happening. Becoming aware of the negative impact that compulsive behaviors have on your life means you’re ready to get help. OCD can affect your job, family and social life, and may quickly expand beyond your initial obsessions and compulsions. When you recognize that every day is disrupted by your rituals, it’s time to seek therapy.
Face your fears with therapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy uses repeated exposure to anxiety-provoking objects and situations to help desensitize you and alleviate your symptoms. Slowly you’ll face and eventually overcome your fears. If you see that nothing bad happens even when you don’t wash your hands 20 times, you can slowly take control of your compulsive behaviors. Additionally, your doctor may prescribe anti-anxiety medications to help you through this process.
While living with OCD can be challenging, it is a disorder that can be managed effectively. When you want to take back control of your life, reach out for help.