Enduring intrusive or obsessive thoughts is one of the symptoms of those suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder and although everyone is plagued by irritating thoughts at one time or another, most of us can easily ignore them and get on with our daily activities. Unfortunately, for those who are afflicted by the characteristic obsessions of OCD, learning how to get rid of obsessive thoughts will probably require professional intervention.
What type of obsessive thoughts does a person with obsessive compulsive disorder have?
The obsessive thoughts experienced by a person with OCD are different to the random thoughts that pop into most people’s heads at inappropriate times (for example the pornographic images you imagine every time your favorite secretary wanders past on her coffee break—such thoughts do not mean you have OCD tendencies; they simply mean you are a normal person with a health libido).
Intrusive or obsessive thoughts are an entirely different kettle of fish, although they can often take on a sexual theme. In a person suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder, such thoughts are impossible to vanquish and they can cause a great deal of emotional and psychological distress.
Common themes of obsessive thoughts include the following:
- Sexual images and urges—such thoughts often relate to inappropriate people and cause the sufferer to be consumed with guilt and self-loathing.
- Preoccupation with religious or moral issues can lead to irrational fears and anxieties.
- A preoccupation with germs and contamination—many OCD patients become obsessed with cleaning, which can manifest in a relentless cleaning regime at home, or repeated hand washing or similar compulsive behavior patterns.
- A fear that something awful will happen to a loved one—OCD patients often have irrational fears that harm will befall someone they love. For example, the patient might worry that they did not turn an appliance off, which leads to compulsive checking.
- Images of excessive violence are common in OCD patients. Rather like the inappropriate sexual images, such thoughts can cause great anxiety and self-loathing.
Obsessive preoccupation with order and symmetry is common in OCD sufferers
The main difference with the occasional inappropriate random thoughts suffered by the majority of people and the obsessive and intrusive thoughts that affects OCD patients is the level of anxiety and suffering they cause. Whilst the rest of us can ignore such thoughts, an OCD patient cannot, and when such thoughts begin to interfere with normal life, the patient requires treatment.
Learning how to get rid of obsessive thoughts will require behavioral therapy and medication to control the anxiety related symptoms. The severity of obsessive compulsive disorder can vary considerably, but in most cases a treatment plan of cognitive behavioral therapy combined with antidepressants will help to break the pattern of obsessive thoughts.
How to get rid of obsessive thoughts using cognitive behavioral therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy in OCD patients usually takes the form of exposure to the source of anxiety followed by a controlled response. By allowing the patient to confront their anxiety under controlled conditions, the patient learns to overcome their anxiety and avoid falling into the compulsive behavior patterns.