Obsessive Compulsive Disorder plagued sufferers with thoughts that are uncontrollable and unwanted. Behaviors range from repeated handwashing to flipping light switches, checking locked doors repeatedly, or a strong need for extreme symmetry. However, mental disorders rarely exist in a vacuum. Most are comorbid with other disorders.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder is one of the most common disorders that runs along with OCD. This can be difficult to detect in the face of the larger of the two giants. GAD is often represented with irrational fears tied to non-threatening situations and circumstances, but what exactly does this look like?
- What if I’m not good enough?
- Does my best friend think I’m creepy?
- What if my boss thinks I’m a bad worker?
- Do my parents think I’m a failure?
- What if I’m not what I’m talked up to be?
- Am I secretly a narcissist and a bad person?
Sound familiar? Thoughts such as these are common with the general population, but are particularly bad for those who suffer from OCD-tendencies. These worries are often nearly impossible to control, and can negatively impact the sufferer’s life.
The common treatment for OCD is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (otherwise known as CBT). In CBT, the goal is to expose the patient with their fears without allowing them to perform anything that relieves them of the stress that it causes. In excessive handwashing, for example, CBT will force the patient to touch dirty surfaces without allowing handwashing afterwards. This exposes the patient to their greatest fear and forces the brain to grapple with it.
At first, this exercise is almost always extremely uncomfortable. Over time (during the span of several weeks), the anxiety subsides, and the compulsive thoughts begin to lose their power.
In social anxiety, this can have a similar effect. If the sufferer remains convinced that of irrational beliefs about himself or herself, CBT can help the patient to face these fears.
How this works:
- Imagine your absolute worst-case scenario
- Don’t perform any “rituals” or otherwise comforting measures.
- Allow yourself to feel the fear of this worst case scenario.
After a period of a few weeks, the anxiety will begin to subside. The sufferer will learn to answer your fears with “So what?” These are some of the most powerful words in the universe. They are the words of acceptance. They are the words of relinquishing power to uncontrollable circumstances, letting them be as they are. Soon, these compulsive fears begin to lose their power.
The brain is a marvelous thing. Obsessive compulsive disorder short-circuits the brain and forces it to compulsively rely on undesired thoughts. By facing these fears and taking the power away from unwanted thoughts, you can reclaim your life and reclaim your peace. And all too often, you’ll realize that the reality was much better than you had feared.