Sunday, June 23, 2024

Methods to Cease OCD Habits


By Andrew GottWorth, IOCDF Advocate

For those who stumbled upon this text, you most likely know that it’s not doable, or not less than very very arduous to “simply cease”. In actual fact, it may be fairly arduous to cease OCD habits, however there are potentialities and confirmed methods to scale back the compulsive urges of OCD. It’s even doable for big components of your life to remove these OCD compulsions! 

In my expertise, I might be cautious of anybody that guarantees a simple strategy to cease OCD habits. It’s not an in a single day remedy, however there are steps we are able to take to assist enhance our expertise with it.


First, let’s begin with a quick primer about what OCD is, and what the gold customary of remedy is for OCD. OCD is obsessive compulsive dysfunction and it isn’t at all times what you see in Hollywood or on TV. OCD can present up as contamination fears and as needing order and symmetry. It could actually additionally present up as intense worrying and compulsive habits round your relationships, about your morals and values, about your physique and somatic sensations. It could actually present up mentally via existential worries or ruminating itself! It’s possible you’ll discover that there’s a vast number of ways in which OCD can intervene with somebody’s life, so how can we cease OCD habits?

Properly, the gold customary remedy is known as publicity and response prevention remedy (additionally referred to as ERP for brief or typically you’ll see ExRP). This has been confirmed in quite a few research to be efficient and is held by the Worldwide OCD Basis as the primary line remedy for OCD. Personally, I used to be in “common remedy” for 10 years earlier than discovering ERP, and it was a sport changer in my restoration and my capability to cease OCD habits!

Let’s break down the 2 components of that phrase. The primary half is publicity. Publicity, to me, means experiencing issues which are distressing. For folks with totally different classes of OCD, this might be exposing your self to germs, exposing your self to an uncomfortable relational second, it might be exposing your self to a film that talks about demise when you’ve gotten existential fears, and so on. It may be actually something that you simply and your therapist speak about as an publicity. 

Then the subsequent half – “response prevention” is tremendous, tremendous essential!

For those who just do the publicity with out the response prevention then, properly, nothing modifications. Response prevention means you’re stopping your regular response. Let’s have a look at among the examples I discussed and the way they confirmed up in my very own life. If I had an uncomfortable relationship second/occasion/factor with my accomplice or a coworker or good friend, my compulsion could be to keep away from it – to run away, decrease it, not cope with it, and so on. The response prevention is to as an alternative stop operating away and keep there within the distressing time and proceed to show myself to that uncomfortable state of affairs repeatedly in order that with time and with assist of a therapist, I can cut back the misery or the urge to do a compulsion.

In my very own life, and in my very own remedy, I did ERP via an intensive outpatient program for 10 days, then twice every week, then as soon as every week, then each different week, and so forth. By way of remedy, I noticed that OCD was affecting many components of my life and never simply those I initially thought of after I went in. It could actually really feel overwhelming early on in remedy considering “how am I going to cease OCD habits for all of this stuff?” With time, every OCD habits, one after the other, obtained simpler in my life.


I’ve this vital second in my reminiscence of my first day of remedy with an OCD therapist doing ERP. She requested one thing alongside the traces of “How typically do you are feeling the urge to do a compulsion, and then you definitely don’t do it?” I believe I mentioned, “What? I didn’t know you possibly can. So I suppose zero?”

For some folks and for some compulsions, merely studying which you can cease the habits and do one thing else is sufficient. As soon as I noticed that’s the mechanism that was taking place, it might cease OCD habits in some areas. As an illustration – I see a crooked image body and have an urge to straighten it, then suppose “Oh – that’s an OCD urge, gotcha.” Then I transfer on.

Different areas of my OCD had been way more troublesome.

I say this to not scare you, however to know that in case you are nonetheless struggling, it’s okay! It took years for our brains to study these guidelines, and most gained’t go away in a single day.

For these tougher features, I slowly made progress with the concept of non-engagement. It seems, I’m fairly expert at arguing with my mind, and you might be too! So if I’ve a thought pop in – “Oh, she didn’t reply to my message, she have to be mad at me.” Then if I have interaction with it, it solely will get stickier. 

Inside dialog:

“Properly, it might be that she is busy”

“However you already know her, and he or she doesn’t reply that means, she have to be upset. It’s best to textual content once more and ask for reassurance”

“Perhaps. However possibly somebody interrupted her and he or she simply hit ship?”

“However she would have adopted up. Ship one other textual content to test to make sure”

So then I might often give in and ask for reassurance. An alternative choice that doesn’t work properly is to attempt to push it away.

“She have to be mad at me”

“No, don’t suppose that. Take into consideration one thing else. Soccer. Suppose soccer. Scoring a purpose….”

“I wager she’s mad although”

“Scored a purpose, gained the sport. Purpose purpose purpose”

“Textual content her, I wager she’s mad”

Plainly pulling it in and arguing, or pushing it away, solely made the thought come up extra. 

Lastly, with observe and steering from my therapist, I obtained higher at not partaking. 

“She have to be mad at me”

“Perhaps, possibly not” *shrug*

“It’s best to textual content her”

“Thanks mind. I hear you, however I’m going to go to the grocery retailer”

Once more – this was not an in a single day answer, however studying to observe this – to note it and transfer on, actually helped me to cease OCD habits.

Hierarchy and Successes

Hopefully now you might be satisfied to speak to a therapist and work via ERP. Whenever you do, you’ll create a hierarchy about your OCD and the extent of misery/discomfort it brings. You’ll begin decrease down on the hierarchy and work your means up. For me, I discovered quite a lot of success in all kinds of domains! Listed here are some examples which may present you some encouragement. 

woman with idea on how to stop ocdOne factor we labored on was my avoidance round blood and knives. I prevented washing cutlery, getting my blood drawn, serving to a liked one with a wound, having issues contact my wrist or again of my hand, watching a film with blood, and so on. To work via that, we first simply had a knife within the room throughout remedy. Then the subsequent session, I held it. After that, I felt my veins. The following session, I felt my therapist’s veins. I practiced doing the dishes and feeling my veins at house whereas working towards non-engagement statements. Now, I can put on a watch (which touches my veins), get the again of my hand stamped, use and clear knives, watch films with blood and so on. My discomfort round these has additionally dropped tremendously. Though I nonetheless have discomfort round a blood draw, I can now try this as properly!

A type of compulsive avoidance for me was leaving early: I might discover causes to depart work early, depart conferences, depart a celebration, depart an occasion and so on. This performed on just a few OCD fears of getting too sizzling, being uncomfortable in costume garments (some somatic OCD), social/relationship OCD, and rumination on “one thing will go fallacious / worsen”. So I practiced staying at a celebration longer than I might usually. I sat in the course of a sales space at a restaurant on goal, in order that I can’t simply rise up and escape the second. I went again to work part-time, then full-time, working towards once more among the ERP methods after I wished to depart. All of those ultimately granted me extra social time and great reminiscences with pals and allowed me to maneuver on to a job that I like. 

Listed here are a set of “smaller” OCD behaviors or guidelines that I’ve been in a position to cease doing over the previous few years:

  • Should put on matching socks
  • Should not put on purple
  • Should put dishes in the suitable spot
  • Should take heed to music to go to sleep
  • Should not take into consideration demise
  • Should have a water bottle with me at all times
  • Should have a lightweight on in no matter room I’m in
  • Should not put on tight garments

There are numerous extra I can speak about, however you’ve learn this far and now it’s time to lookup an OCD therapist in your space! Go to  You can begin discovering some reduction quickly.


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