Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (known as OCD) is an anxiety disorder that causes a lot of distress for sufferers and can have a debilitating effect on many aspects of your life.
It’s a condition that can feel impossible to break free of, given the amount of control it has on day-to-day life. Here’s some good news though: OCD is something that you can successfully overcome with the right treatment(s) and in this post, I’m going to talk about how hypnotherapy can help.
What is OCD?
There are two aspects to OCD: intrusive thoughts and compulsive behaviour.
They often go hand in hand as the intrusive thoughts that suddenly pop into your head out of the blue will usually encourage compulsive, repetitive behaviours that are performed in an attempt to reduce the anxiety, fear and unease that these thoughts cause.
Compulsions can come in a lot of different forms but they are almost always repetitive. This can involve things like switching lights on and off, checking that taps or appliances are turned off, washing your hands repeatedly, counting, reciting certain phrases or mantras and arranging objects in perfect symmetry.
You may feel a bit of relief in the short term but this tends not to last and it’s not long before another intrusive thought enters your mind.
Instead of making you feel better, these compulsive actions actually exaggerate your anxiety.
This can start a vicious cycle in which you don’t feel totally sure that the lights are off or the door is locked so you feel compelled to keep making sure.
The worry or fear that you have overlooked something takes precedence over the reality of the situation (for example, that the door is definitely locked).
In your mind, a negative picture has already formed as to what will happen if you don’t perform the ritual, whereas someone without OCD will form a much more positive picture in their mind after checking the same thing.
This will often continue to keep forming even though you have just checked and found that your doubts were unfounded. The uncertainty creeps back in again the scenario repeats itself.
It’s often completely irrational but this doesn’t detract from the frequency or intensity of the intrusive thoughts.
Many OCD sufferers feel as though something awful will happen if they don’t perform these rituals, even if this is very unlikely in reality. This can include fears that someone close to you will die if you don’t perform the ritual.
This helps the intrusive thoughts to gain complete control of you and many OCD sufferers find that their compulsions have a massive effect on their well being. It’s not at all uncommon for OCD symptoms to affect your work, relationships, social life and pretty much every part of their life. At its worst, OCD can literally consume you and take over your life.
How Can Hypnotherapy Help to Treat OCD?
There are a few different treatment options for OCD, including psychotherapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy (ERPT) and medications.
If you haven’t had any success in treating OCD through these methods or you aren’t sure whether they will work for you, you may be interested to know how hypnotherapy can work for OCD.
Hypnosis can change the thinking patterns that trigger OCD behaviours and reduce the anxiety that they create. Your hypnotherapist can encourage you to adopt new thought processes in place of the negative ones that are fuelling your OCD so that you don’t feel the same compulsion to perform rituals.
Hypnotherapy can alter your thoughts on an unconscious level whereas CBT therapy uses the conscious part of the brain.
This offers a lot more potential to change your mindset as OCD thoughts and behaviours are deeply embedded in the subconscious mind.
The compulsions triggered by intrusive thoughts come from the unconscious part of your brain, which is why hypnotherapy can be very successful in helping people to overcome OCD.
Ultimately, hypnotherapy can bring control back to you, rather than you feeling that your thoughts are dictating to you.
Hypnotherapy can be used alongside other options as part of a wider treatment plan. Some people choose to use hypnotherapy alongside medications or psychotherapy, for example.