OCD and Coronavirus: How To Help Manage Their Concerns

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) can become especially bothersome during Coronavirus times. It’s important to recognize that the Coronavirus pandemic can significantly affect individuals struggling with OCD. 

Public health experts are right when they advise steps to prevent the spread of the virus. Steps such as hand washing, social distancing, avoiding sick people, and disinfecting things you touch often are important to do. 

Individuals that are struggling with OCD may find that managing all of these steps is difficult. This can cause anxiety and distress to those who feel that their compulsory habits are out of control. 

Each individual is unique so the Coronavirus may be affecting one person with OCD more than the next. Regardless of your situation, learning more about OCD and how to manage anxieties can help to alleviate many pains and discomfort. 

Keep reading to learn more about OCD and symptom management during Coronavirus times.

What is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder in which individuals have recurring, unwelcome thoughts, ideas, or sensations (obsessions). These obsessions then cause them to repeatedly take part in certain actions (compulsions). 

Repressive actions like hand washing, checking on things or cleaning, can significantly get in the way of an individual’s ability to function daily. It’s not unnatural for people to have certain compulsions that come out from time to time. 

We all have our little quirks and habits. However, it is crucial not to downplay OCD. Individuals that struggle with OCD have persistent, unwanted routines and behaviors that cause significant distress.

An OCD diagnosis requires that the presence of obsessions and/or compulsions consume more than an hour of the person’s day. It also requires the OCD to cause major distress, and negatively affect work, social as well as other important areas in an individual’s life.

Fortunately, understanding OCD management, especially during Coronavirus times, can help alleviate a lot of discomfort for you or a loved one. OCD may be bothersome, but inaction is far worse.

We encourage you to have hope and take the necessary steps to improve your OCD! Keep reading to learn more about OCD and how to manage it during Coronavirus times.

Types of OCD and Their Symptoms

OCD comes in a variety of forms. However, most cases fall into at least one of four general categories:

  • Checkings, such as locks, alarm systems, ovens, or light switches, or being convinced that you have a medical condition like pregnancy or schizophrenia
  • Contamination, a fear of things that have germs and are dirty or a compulsion to clean. Mental contamination includes the feeling of being treated like dirt.
  • Symmetry and order, the need to have things specifically lined up
  • Ruminations and intrusive thoughts, an obsession with a line of thought. These thoughts may be violent or disturbing.

Obsessions and Compulsions

Many individuals struggling with OCD are aware that their thoughts and habits don’t make sense. These thoughts feel involuntary as if they can’t control them. 

These thoughts can feel like intruders. Examples of obsessive thoughts include:

  • Worries about yourself or others getting hurt
  • Constant awareness of blinking, breathing, or other body sensations
  • The suspicion that a partner is unfaithful, with no reasoning behind the belief

Compulsive habits can include:

  • Completing tasks in a specific order every time or a certain “good” number of times
  • Counting items, such as steps or bottles
  • Fear of touching doorknobs, using public toilets, or shaking hands

What are Signs that OCD is Spiraling during the Pandemic?

It’s important to be aware of your behaviors and habits so you can best prevent OCD symptoms from worsening. OCD management is a key step in helping to manage those symptoms.

 It’s time to take the necessary steps to manage OCD if you feel that triggers are constantly causing you stress. Behaviors that indicate spiraling OCD include:

  • Time: The amount of time you’re spending on compulsive behaviors has increased. Take note of how many minutes or hours you’re spending in compulsive behaviors. If this is increasing substantially or consistently, you may be spiraling.
  • Impact: Your behaviors are impacting other factors in your life including your interpersonal relationships, work, and ability to sleep, exercise, or eat.
  • Anxiety: Your anxiety level is not decreasing even after your compulsive behavior. 
  • Concern: Your loved ones have made comments to you about your recent behaviors.
  • You feel like you’re approaching (or have met) your breaking point.

Tips for OCD Management

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to manage OCD. OCD management is all about being aware of triggers and working through them. 

Some of our tips for OCD management include:

Cut back on constant news watching

The news can trigger a lot of anxiety and fear. Individuals struggling with OCD may feel the need to constantly check the news. The key here is to restrict the amount of time you watch the news each day. 

Set guidelines for news watching that work for you. For example, you set a rule of only watching five minutes of news a day. Or, maybe five minutes of news once every other day.

Keep up with recommendations and guidelines for health behaviors, such as wearing a mask when you’re outside

Individuals in OCD treatment are trying to reduce compulsive cleaning rituals. People in recovery may have hand washing and other hygiene routines that are less rigorous to keep their compulsions in check.

However, because of the Coronavirus pandemic, permit yourself to follow World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.

OCD management is crucial, but so is keeping yourself and loved ones safe. You can still manage your OCD while taking the necessary precautions for Coronavirus.

We encourage you to create a goal that restricts yourself to following valid guidelines, while also not over-doing it. For example, you could wash your hands as directed by the CDC/WHO but no more than that. 

Seek online resources such as teletherapy 

Telehealth treatment has become especially useful during Coronavirus times. You can receive the highest quality of treatment from the comfort of your home. Online resources can help tremendously with OCD management as we move along the pandemic.

Research has shown that cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can be effective for individuals with OCD. You can find CBT therapists at a treatment center that will not only provide you with teletherapy but also create a personalized treatment plan. 

With the right resources and support, OCD management becomes possible.

Take care of future travel plans reasonably

Taking the necessary precautions and following guidelines will help lessen a lot of the fear and anxiety you may be feeling. Taking care of future travel plans will help you have peace of mind knowing that you’re doing everything you can to stay safe.

If you have a trip planned in the future, look into getting a refund or rescheduling the dates. Once you take care of any changes, don’t stress about it! We know it’s easier said than done, but it helps to do your best to let go of what you can’t change. 

If you’re feeling especially bummed about travel plans getting canceled, think of hobbies and activities you can do at home or in your backyard! There’s plenty of resources online to help you cure that boredom bug.

Be compassionate with yourself

It’s important to be compassionate with yourself during these times. This took all of us by surprise so we’re learning to deal with it as we go along. 

If you’re experiencing an increase of OCD symptoms, don’t judge yourself harshly! Forgive yourself and move forward with a plan of action.

It’s not your job to be perfect all the time. Rather, make sure you’re improving and progressing towards a positive direction each day.

Keep in mind that we will all get through this

The uncertainty of the situation has caused many individuals to struggle with anxiety. It’s natural for uncertain times to trigger symptoms of mental health disorders, such as OCD and anxiety. 

You’re not struggling alone. There are many others with OCD symptoms that are in the same boat. 

Together, we’ll use this situation to make us stronger, tougher, and build more character.

Summary of Tips for OCD Management During the Coronavirus Pandemic

It’s natural to have anxiety over the pandemic. However, worsening OCD symptoms are a sign that it’s time to take action. 

To summarize our tips about OCD management, kindly see below:

  • Remember, most people who get COVID-19 don’t have serious complications.
  • Follow guidelines for social distancing, but don’t isolate yourself more than you need to.
  • Obtain information from reliable sources rather than social media.
  • Limit your news intake.
  • Take a creative approach to manage your anxiety, such as investing in a new hobby. This can include something arts and crafts related, skill-related, or even learning to cook a new meal.
  • Take time to partake in activities you enjoy: connect with family and friends when you can while following guidelines, listen to music, read good books, get some fresh air, sing or dance, and always practice gratitude!

Reach Out to Us for More Information Today!

There are many tools out there to help you manage your OCD during these times. We encourage you to reach out for more information about how we can help you get started on OCD management. 

We also offer an unmatched rehab experience at Unity Behavioral Health and can provide you with the highest quality of resources. Contact us right away here to learn more about OCD management.

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