You are probably familiar with the situation when an obsessive song gets stuck in your head, or when you are so anxious about an upcoming event that you can’t think of anything else, or when you repeatedly dwell on certain memories. This is normal and something all people experience occasionally. However, in some cases, obsessive ideas become pathological, turning into phobias and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Today, we will discuss who is susceptible to this, why it happens, and how to combat it.
- Obsession: Concept Characteristics
- The Nature of Obsessive Ideas (Thoughts)
- Intrusive Thoughts of an Anxious (Frightening) Nature
- Popular Phobias
- Mechanism of the Onset of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Example of How Obsessive Thinking Can Manifest
- Impact of Anxiety on Health
- Primary Symptoms of Obsessive Neurosis
- How to Get Rid of Obsessive Thoughts: Diagnosis and Treatment of the Disorder
- How to Get Rid of Obsessive Thoughts and Fears Independently
- Methods to Get Rid of Obsessive Thoughts
- Can Any Disease Be Overcome by the Power of Thought?
- How to Treat the Disorder
- How to Get Rid of Obsessive Thoughts and Fears Independently
Obsession: Concept Characteristics
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), or the neurosis of obsessive states, is a mental pathological condition in which a person is forced to constantly perform the same mental operations. Usually, this is associated with an internal conviction that something bad will happen. Neurosis reduces quality of life and interferes with normal lifestyle. OCD is studied by clinical psychology and psychiatry.
The Nature of Obsessive Ideas (Thoughts)
Obsessive thoughts themselves can be both good and bad. It could be a strong desire to acquire something, achieve something, pleasant or unpleasant memories, fantasizing about how a situation might develop, or a desire to get rid of or forget something (although the opposite effect occurs). For example, you might think about how to get rid of obsessive thoughts about a person you love. But this is a different topic – unrequited love.
Thoughts differ from obsessive-compulsive disorder. They are not always pathological. But they are dangerous if they pull a person out of reality, turning into phobias, delusional ideas, and manias. For example, a scientist can become so obsessed with an idea that they forget all principles of ethics. History knows many cruel experiments on humans.
Intrusive Thoughts of an Anxious (Frightening) Nature
Obsessive bad thoughts, ideas, memories, fears can arise at any age and have any intensity. Often, they arise against the backdrop of psychological trauma, but other predispositions can be identified – personality traits:
- Anxiety as a character trait;
- Tendency to self-analysis;
- Susceptibility and suggestibility;
- Dependence on someone or something;
- Lack of sleep;
- Psycho-emotional, intellectual, and physical exhaustion;
- Chronic stress;
- Unstable situation in society or the life of a particular person (material, financial, social uncertainty);
- Life changes (moving, new job, etc.);
One of the popular phobias is thanatophobia, or the fear of death. Different obsessive thoughts about death come to mind: about an accident or suicide, murder of someone. You should not immediately run to a psychiatrist. First, consider this as a psychological defense. The brain helps you, hinting that it’s time to rest. Examples:
- Everyone has had the questionable desire at least once in their life to jump off a bridge into a river or step in front of a car. It sounds scary, but there is a deep psychological reason behind it: fatigue or unwillingness to go to work, home.
- Some people have terrifying thoughts about killing someone, for example, a rowdy alcoholic husband. Nothing surprising: a tired psyche suggests primitive solutions. But if you calm the fear, stop blaming yourself for bad thoughts, and think rationally, you can find a more acceptable and equally accessible solution: leave the husband, seek help from friends and social services.
- And the fear of the death of loved ones speaks of strong material, moral, and physical dependence on them, fear of loneliness. Are you sure you fear for them, not yourself?
Interesting! Those who are really prone to suicide and ready for suicide attempts do not have fear. They calmly accept this decision and plan the method. But if you are scared, it means you really want to live, but something in life contradicts your inner self. It remains to understand what is dissatisfying, or what you are tired of. In Louise Hay’s disease table, the psychological meaning of suicide is a pessimistic view of life, unwillingness to find another way out of the situation.
Other popular phobias are also common. For example, hypochondria – fear of getting sick. It can develop against the backdrop of personal negative medical experiences or due to the illness and death of a loved one, as well as under the influence of the media (remember how scary and obsessive phrases like “Are you sure you don’t have AIDS?” sound).
The mechanism of phobias can have both a direct character of associations and an indirect one. For example, claustrophobia can develop in childhood when a child had to wait a long time for parents in a small room. Essentially, nothing terrible happened, but the child experienced strong stress from waiting and separation. And the brain associated this with the small space, not with the separation.
Mechanism of the Onset of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
OCD consists of two similar neuroses. Obsessions are intrusive thoughts. Compulsions are repetitive actions. The development mechanism of the disorder is simple: to neutralize the negative impact of thoughts and prevent the misfortune they predict, a person invents rituals. These rituals become compulsions. The mechanism can be described as: as long as I do this, I am safe, I control the situation.
Example of How Obsessive Thinking Can Manifest
There are thousands of variations of OCD. Let’s look at a few popular examples:
- A person fears germs, i.e., suffers from mysophobia. Voices in the head insist that germs are everywhere. To protect themselves, the person invents a ritual: wash hands five times in one go, and repeat after every contact with a contaminated surface. They also wash all products and even packaging from stores. Daily cleaning of the house takes several hours. In severe cases, a person may shut themselves in their home or invent additional attributes for contact with the world: gauze bandage, antiseptic, wipes, etc.
- Another common form of neurosis, at first glance illogical, is also prevalent. A person fears that something bad will happen to their loved ones. To neutralize this and feel control over the situation, they invent a ritual: get up in the morning only on the right foot, turn the key in the lock 10 times, etc.
- Other people with the neurosis may spend hours or even days in the shower, just waiting for the water to ‘wash out’ the bad thought from their head.
One could endlessly continue with examples, but the essence is clear: a bad thought is neutralized by a good action. This way, a person regains control over the situation.
The main cause of the syndrome is fear, lack of control. In this disorder, everything is interconnected. Obsessive bad thoughts are born against the backdrop of psychological trauma. To regain control, a person chooses what is accessible (rituals can be very diverse).
Example: As a child, a woman witnessed her mother’s death (from cancer). The girl felt powerless and unable to control the situation. She could do nothing but wanted to help. Her mother died, the girl developed a psychological trauma, along with an obsessive fear of death. Later, the girl invented several rituals that helped her feel safe and in control again. Initially, she even liked it, but over the years, the rituals became more complex, leading to complete isolation within the walls of her home and constant repetition of the same actions.
Impact of Anxiety on Health
Anxiety negatively affects mental and physical health. Constant stress leads to a decrease in immunity and the destruction of the body’s protective systems. Against this backdrop, a person starts to get sick often, and chronic diseases worsen. In general, all diseases are from nerves, and nerves are from thoughts.
Primary Symptoms of Obsessive Neurosis
The main symptom is constant, repetitive, irrational thoughts and fears that cannot be expelled from the mind. Some patients even recognize their irrationality but still cannot control themselves.
The brain perceives the imagined threat as real and reacts accordingly:
- Increased blood pressure;
- Trembling of limbs;
- Shortness of breath;
- Dry mouth;
- Accelerated heartbeat;
- Release of cortisol and adrenaline, further increasing tension and anxiety;
- Panic attacks;
In such moments, a person may talk to themselves, say something out loud, ‘freeze’, or ponder over something. They replay the same images in their mind. Due to neurosis, productivity and work capacity decrease, and sleep problems occur.
How to Get Rid of Obsessive Thoughts: Diagnosis and Treatment of the Disorder
Rituals calm down temporarily, but they are not a solution to the problem. In severe cases, one can completely fall out of life. The disorder requires treatment, but first professional diagnosis. A commonly accepted diagnostic tool is the Yale-Brown scale. Additionally, the doctor compares the disease’s manifestations with criteria from the international disease manual. After that, optimal treatment is selected.
How to Get Rid of Obsessive Thoughts and Fears Independently
We have already said that the mechanism of fear formation can be indirect. Therefore, identifying the psychological meaning of the disease on your own can be difficult. It is better to consult a psychologist. This increases the chances of permanently solving the problem.
In the meantime, we have prepared several tips to help get rid of pesky thoughts. How to independently get rid of obsessive thoughts in your head and overcome fears:
- Accept your fears and obsessive ideas. Do not try to throw them out of your head. The more you try to run away from them, the more persistent they become. Allow yourself to think about it.
- Try to understand what lies behind the thoughts. In moments when obsessions start to win, try to discern the true psychological problem.
- Write down or visually represent your thought. Sometimes this helps to realize its irrationality. Visualization always aids perception.
- If it’s about fear, depict it and try to ridicule it. This method is more suitable for children, but adults can try it too.
- Relieve physical tension through sports. This will help lower adrenaline levels and increase endorphin levels.
- Perform breathing exercises. Concentrating on counting will help get rid of thoughts, and the breathing itself will allow you to calm down.
Many people benefit from the visualization method. Imagine taking your fear and placing it in a box, which you then lock. Or imagine the fear tearing into many pieces and disappearing.
Methods to Get Rid of Obsessive Thoughts
Before a psychotherapy session and for self-help, you can try some exercises to overcome diseases and anxiety of a nervous nature:
- Prayer. An affirmation analogue for people who believe in God.
- Creativity. Pour out everything that has accumulated on paper. Tear or burn the paper. Or model the fear from clay and break the figure.
- Shift attention. Think about something else. It could be a task or just fantasizing, a specific object or image.
To independently get rid of obsessive thoughts before sleep, determine what they are related to. Perhaps the anxiety is caused by reluctance to go to work, the approach of a new day.
Can Any Disease Be Overcome by the Power of Thought?
Yes, a disease can be overcome by the power of thought. We attract what we think about. But in addition, our thoughts influence our perception. Learn to reason. Let’s recall the example with the fear of death of loved ones. How to get rid of obsessive thoughts about death: become an independent and self-reliant individual. Yes, we will never be ready for such a separation, but if you know that you will not be lost, the anxiety will subside. And death itself should be accepted as inevitable. Everyone dies. It’s just one of the stages of the life cycle.
Another method can be tried. Determine the true cause of fear, and then create an affirmation for it. Repeat the statement twice a day. For example, you constantly doubt whether you turned off the stove, iron, water. Repeat: “I am attentive and notice all the details and nuances that surround me.”
You can find and read suitable affirmations in the book “Heal Your Body” (Louise Hay) and in the work of the same author “101 Power Thoughts”. The books can be found online, read and listened to online. In “Heal Your Body,” Louise Hay talks about how to overcome disease with the power of thought: “The thoughts we choose are like the paints with which we paint the canvas of our life.” This is just one of the author’s valuable thoughts. Reading the entire book, you will surely get rid of fears and anxieties. With thought and joy, even incurable diseases can be removed. Louise and her works help in self-healing from all diseases.
How to Treat the Disorder
OCD is difficult to treat independently and requires comprehensive therapy: medication + psychotherapy sessions. Only a psychotherapist can prescribe medications. Treating OCD involves the use of antidepressants, tranquilizers, sedatives, and anti-anxiety drugs.
Important! Self-medication is not advisable. Only a specialist can select the right drug, its dosage, and treatment course. Self-treatment can worsen the situation.
Among psychological methods in treating phobias and obsessions, cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy is effective. The psychotherapist recreates the traumatic situation with the client, analyzes it objectively, and concurrently, the doctor and client devise new ways of coping with stress. Afterward, the client is placed in frightening conditions and encouraged to reinforce the new behavioral model.
In addition to cognitive therapy, neurolinguistic programming (NLP) is used. Its essence is that a person is advised to mimic the actions of some authoritative, successful individual. In simple terms, you need to play the role of someone. Gradually, this becomes a habit, and the brain reprograms.
How to Get Rid of Obsessive Thoughts and Fears Independently
The only way to get rid of fears is by confronting them. However, doing this on your own is very risky. But comprehensive work on consciousness is beneficial.
How to Get Rid of Obsessive Neurosis:
- Develop positive thinking. Switch to positive thoughts every time you catch yourself being negative. Over time, this will become a habit. But, as we’ve said, don’t try to run away from problems. Thinking positively means acknowledging the problem and thinking, “I can handle this, and to do so, I will do this.”
- Learn “anchoring”: mentally return to a time and situation where you felt strong and happy, where it was safe. Remember this state. Choose an “anchor” (a scent, music, object) that will remind you of this event. Every time you feel insecure, hold onto your “anchor.” The emotions from that state will automatically transfer to the present moment.
- Don’t dwell on worries and fears, don’t succumb to despondency. Challenge yourself.
- Find a hobby that brings positive emotions.
- Learn to relax, master relaxation and self-regulation techniques.
Do not hesitate to seek help. Finding a specialist and talking about the problem is also self-help. Nowadays, help can be found online. Consultations can be anonymous, written, via Skype, and more importantly, you can find free help and support.