62: OCD vs Anxiety
Frequently, our distressing thoughts may cause impulses, repetitive behaviors, or compulsions, leading to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). As a response to stress or other perceived threats or danger, we get anxious because of how uneasy we feel about some circumstances.
Many people get confused with the two disorders as they often go hand in hand. In today's episode, we'll distinguish OCD from anxiety to help everyone better understand the two mental health issues.
What are the symptoms of anxiety?
Compared to the regular stress we experience daily from things that bother us or make us uncomfortable, anxiety is when something significant builds up. Our nervous system gets stuck in a dysregulated state.
Anxiety is now the number one mental health issue in America across all ages. As early as age 6, which is the average age of the onset of an anxiety disorder, you can already see a lot of symptoms exhibited by an individual.
Most people tend to be more emotional when they're anxious. But when we talk about anxiety, it can be a wide range of symptoms. Sometimes, the individual suffering from anxiety may look like a depressive person who has shut down and withdrawn from connecting with others.
Anxiety can flood the system and trigger your body's fight, flight, or freeze response. It can be triggered even in situations without immediate danger or threat for people with anxiety. So, they experience varied reactions like fear, panic, unease, and other symptoms like sweating, increased heart rate, difficulty breathing, and more.
What are the symptoms of OCD?
Everyone always thinks of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) as physical compulsions like constant hand washing and sanitizing, but more often, it always starts with intrusive thoughts or impulses. Most people with OCD may engage in repetitive behaviors or feel compelled to do compulsions to prevent their fears.
We must keep in mind that people can look good on the outside, yet they're suffering from mental health issues silently. In the case of your kids, grades are not benchmarks for mental health. So it's always good to check your kid's mental health or step back and observe.
OCD can be displayed in many symptoms, including the constant fear of harm or danger and worries about the order or placement of things. It can also be exhibited through repetitive behaviors in counting, washing, and even repeating phrases or words.
How to break the cycle of OCD
If you or your kid has OCD, you shouldn't lose hope despite how challenging it is to break the cycle of OCD because there's a way to reverse that power, the negative reinforcement cycle.
What happens is that anxiety spikes up, and then there's a belief that if I do this, the bad thing won't happen. So it becomes a habit. The more you do it, the more it will happen. But when we start accommodating OCD in this negative reinforcement cycle, it spirals out of control.
Every time you do the behavior, the baseline increases, and breaking the cycle becomes harder. Additionally, OCD is tricky and secretive, which makes it even harder for us to stop it.
What is the best treatment for OCD?
I've always emphasized the importance of calming the brain and regulating your system. It dramatically helps deal with many mental health issues, and you'd be surprised by its positive impacts.
Our clinic uses neurofeedback, PEMF, supplements, and other science-backed tools to help calm the nervous system down. We also use ERP, which is exposure and response prevention, breaking the negative reinforcement cycle.
No matter where you are in your journey, we have resources to help you:
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