If you have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), it’s normal to feel anxious, embarrassed or even ashamed of your thoughts and compulsions. However, it’s important to remember that there’s nothing to be embarrassed about, and that OCD is relatively common — so common that it affects millions of American’s everyday.
Furthermore, even people without OCD experience intrusive and unwanted thoughts from time to time, which means you’re definitely not alone in your experience. It’s especially important to note that in treatment, the right therapist will never judge you for your symptoms.
No matter the type of obsessions you experience, you may be able to recognize that your thoughts seem irrational, which might make you assume that others would find them just as irrational or even label them as crazy. But it’s important to remember that no matter how irrational your obsessions may appear, they feel very real to you — and that’s okay! Having obsessive thoughts is not indicative of your character, nor does it make you crazy.
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All it means is that you have OCD, an extremely common mental health disorder. Receiving an official diagnosis may seem scary, but it allows you to receive validation of your experience and begin learning to better manage your symptoms.
A common subtype of OCD is called harm OCD, and it’s marked by an obsessive-compulsive cycle of unwanted thoughts about harming others. If you have Harm OCD, you likely experience great fear that you could act on your obsessions and hurt someone, even if you have no history of prior violence.
Beyond Harm OCD, there are other subtypes that may seem unsettling, such as Pedophilia OCD (POCD). People with POCD have unwanted sexual thoughts about children and worry whether they would ever act on them.
With both of these subtypes, you will likely worry about your overall character and question what kind of person you are. Understandably, this can be extremely overwhelming and isolating. Because your thoughts center around things that are highly stigmatized, it can be scary to tell anyone what you’re going through. However, there is successful treatment for OCD, and the thoughts OCD gives you are not reflective of your character as a person. If you seek treatment, you could end the cycle of obsessions and compulsions and regain control over your life.That’s why it’s important to discuss your experience with a therapist that specializes in the treatment of OCD. In fact, it is unlikely that a therapist who treats OCD will be surprised by the content of your obsessions– they’ve heard it before!
Unfortunately, we’re aware that not everyone has had a great first experience with therapy, especially for those dealing with OCD. Studies suggest that as many as half of people with OCD are misdiagnosed, meaning it can be hard to get the help you need if your therapist doesn’t recognize the signs and symptoms of OCD.
If you’ve had a negative experience with therapy — whether you felt uncomfortable with your therapist, they referred you elsewhere because they don’t treat people with aggression, or they even launched an investigation or submitted a report to Child Protective Services — we hope you give therapy another try. While some therapists may have missed the mark in the past, the right therapist with experience in treating OCD will never judge you for what you’re experiencing. If you need help finding a trusted therapist, our team is always here to help.
As mentioned before, a good therapist will never judge you for any of your thoughts or compulsions. They are here to help you and teach you how to better cope with your fears and anxieties. The best way to achieve that is through a form of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) called exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy.
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ERP works by providing a safe space for you to experience your obsessions alongside your therapist. During this process, your therapist will teach you how to identify and cope with your obsessions so you can resist the urge to enact the associated compulsions. Over time, you’ll learn how to let your obsessive thoughts simply exist, which can help you feel less obligated to engage in any compulsive behaviors.
Thankfully, ERP is now more accessible than ever, including through NOCD’s nationwide network of therapists. Every NOCD therapist specializes in treating OCD with ERP, offering you the most effective form of treatment for your symptoms. If you’re ready to explore treatment options for your OCD, you can begin by scheduling a free call with the NOCD clinical team. After being matched with a therapist, you can start therapy from the comfort of your home through video sessions or phone calls.
If you’re worried or uncomfortable about discussing your symptoms and thoughts with anyone else, remember that OCD is highly treatable. You don’t have to suffer in silence, and many people find relief in sharing their experiences, and — over time — you can learn how to live your life free of fear and compulsions.