How to overcome Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Suicide OCD vs Suicidal Thoughts

Suicidal thoughts are a significant health concern in the U.S. today. In 2008-2009, 8.3 million people over age 18, corresponding to 3.7% of adults, reported having suicidal thoughts during the previous year. Based on self-report, this is undoubtedly an underestimate as many are hesitant to admit having such thoughts.

Sometimes what appears to be suicidal ideation is actually a form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. There are a number of factors differentiating suicidal thoughts and suicidal obsessions, yet given the high degree of overlap, determining the scope of the problem for each individual requires a comprehensive evaluation and regular follow-up.

Exposure therapy is the crucial ingredient for overcoming any form of OCD. The idea behind it is this – if we repeatedly expose ourselves to feared “triggers,” our mind will eventually learn that the anxiety response is no longer warranted because the feared consequence never occurs. Putting ourselves in uncomfortable situations is not enough. We need to refrain from performing compulsions. This is the “response prevention” component of exposure therapy. Think of a child that sleeps with a stuffed animal at night because they are afraid of the dark. Instead of clinging to stuffed animals, OCD sufferers look to things like reassurance seeking, avoidance behavior, and rumination to bring about comfort in times of intense anxiety over obsessive thoughts. When we remove the compulsions, we disrupt the OCD circuit allowing the mind to see that compulsions don’t actually prevent any consequence from happening – because it doesn’t actually exist.