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Obsessive Thoughts


I am struggling with intrusive and obsessive thoughts which greatly affect my functioning. How can I tell if this is a part of PTSD or if I might have another disorder such as OCD?
I am struggling with intrusive and obsessive thoughts which greatly affect my functioning. How can I tell if this is a part of PTSD or if I might have another disorder such as OCD?
@EveHarrington, thank you for reaching out. Intrusive and obsessive thoughts are common symptoms of both PTSD and OCD, and it can be challenging to differentiate between the two. The presence of these symptoms can significantly impact daily functioning, and it's essential to receive a proper diagnosis and treatment.

The DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for PTSD includes intrusive re-experiencing symptoms that include recurring, involuntary, and distressing memories, dreams, or flashbacks of the traumatic event. In contrast, OCD involves recurring, unwanted thoughts or obsessions that lead to intense anxiety, stress, or discomfort. The obsessions may lead to behaviors or rituals (compulsions), aimed at reducing the stress or anxiety.

Given the overlap of symptoms between PTSD and OCD, it might be helpful to seek an evaluation from a mental health professional who can conduct an assessment and help with a proper diagnosis. Please take time to identify a mental health professional specializing in cognitive processing therapy or exposure therapy, which are effective treatment options for PTSD and OCD.

It's important to understand that you're not alone, and there's hope for recovery with proper therapeutic intervention, so please consider reaching out for additional support.
I do not have an appointment to see a therapist for another 2 weeks. Are there coping skills that I can use in the meantime to help with my obsessive thoughts?
I do not have an appointment to see a therapist for another 2 weeks. Are there coping skills that I can use in the meantime to help with my obsessive thoughts?
@EveHarrington, I can understand how distressing obsessive thoughts can be, and it's great that you are looking for coping skills to manage them. Here are some coping strategies that may be helpful:

1. Mindfulness Meditation: This practice is proven effective in helping people with depression, anxiety, and PTSD. It can help individuals become more aware of their thoughts and feelings and increase the ability to observe them without judgment. You can start with breathing exercises or guided meditations to help you feel centered and more focused.

2. Distraction: Engage in activities that you enjoy, such as listening to music, reading a book, watching a movie, or doing exercise. Doing activities that you enjoy can help to redirect your attention away from the obsessive thoughts.

3. Grounding Techniques: Bring yourself back into the present moment by using grounding techniques, such as focusing on your senses, like feeling a texture that is hard or soft, hearing a sound or a smell, and seeing your surroundings. This can help to pull your mind away from obsessive thoughts and help you focus on your surroundings.

4. Challenge Negative Thoughts: Try to challenge negative thoughts by analyzing them logically. Ask yourself these questions: Is this thought true? Is there any evidence for it or against it? What is the worst thing that could happen? What evidence do I have that supports that idea?

5. Self-Care: Make time for yourself daily, such as taking a bath, going for a walk, or doing something that helps you feel relaxed and calm, like practicing yoga or meditation.

Remember that these coping strategies can be helpful in managing obsessive thoughts, but they may not work for everyone. It may be beneficial to work with a therapist to identify strategies that are most effective for your unique situation. Please know that help is available and that you're not alone in this.
Do you have any suggestions for dealing with obsessive thinking that centers around a negative self worth?
Do you have any suggestions for dealing with obsessive thinking that centers around a negative self worth?
@EveHarrington, negative self-worth is a common theme in obsessive thinking and can significantly impact an individual's emotional well-being. Here are some suggestions that can be helpful in dealing with obsessive thinking:

1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT is an evidence-based therapy that can help individuals manage negative self-worth. The aim of CBT is to identify and challenge negative thoughts and beliefs and replace them with positive ones. CBT interventions, such as cognitive restructuring techniques, can help individuals to become aware of their thoughts and challenge them by questioning them rationally.

2. Positive Affirmations: Practice saying positive affirmations to yourself daily, such as "I am deserving of love and happiness," "I am capable of success," or "I am worthy of respect." Repeating positive affirmations to yourself daily can help to change the narrative of negative self-talk and increase feelings of self-worth.

3. Journaling: Write down positive things that happen in your life or write down three things you're grateful for each day. This can help to shift your focus from negative self-talk to positive experiences and help you develop a more positive self-image.

4. Engage in Self-Care: Practice self-care activities such as taking a warm bath, wearing your favorite outfit, or taking a walk in nature. Doing activities that nourish your body and spirit can help you to feel more positive about yourself.

5. Seek Support: Engage with friends or family members or join support groups. Talking with others who also experience obsessive thinking and negative self-worth can help you feel less alone and provide a non-judgemental space to vent about issues.

Remember, these strategies may be helpful in managing negative self-worth, but it's important to understand that they may not work for everyone. Working with a mental health professional specializing in CBT or exposure therapy can help you develop personalized strategies that better match your unique situation.
Are you familiar with ERP to treat OCD?
Yes, @EveHarrington, I am familiar with Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy (ERP), which is an evidence-based treatment for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

ERP therapy involves exposure to feared situations, thoughts, or objects, and then the individual is asked to resist engaging in compulsive behaviors to reduce anxiety, such as excessive hand washing.

During the exposure phase, individuals are confronted with the anxiety-inducing situations, thoughts, or objects in a controlled and safe environment. The goal is to expose themselves to these triggers gradually while resisting the urge to perform their usual compulsive behaviors, allowing their anxiety to peak and then naturally subside.

By repeatedly exposing themselves to anxiety-inducing stimuli, the individual can learn to reduce their anxiety response and decrease the need to engage in compulsive behaviors. This process can be difficult, but with the guidance of a mental health professional experienced in treating OCD, individuals can learn how to manage their OCD symptoms.

ERP therapy can be challenging, but it has been shown to be highly effective in reducing OCD symptoms. It's important to note that recovery from OCD is not always complete, but individuals can learn coping mechanisms to better manage their symptoms and maintain a good quality of life.
I am not sure if I have compulsions. Do you know about Pure O OCD?
Yes, @EveHarrington, Pure Obsessional OCD, also known as Pure O OCD, is a subtype of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) that involves experiencing distressing, intrusive thoughts or obsessions, without the typical physical compulsions that are typically associated with OCD.

People with Pure O OCD may experience obsessions related to harming others, sexual thoughts, religious themes, or intrusive thoughts related to their own safety, among other things. These mental obsessions can cause significant distress, anxiety, and emotional turmoil, leading to various emotional and physical symptoms such as depression, anxiety, and panic attacks.

Although Pure O OCD does not involve compulsions, the individual experiencing these symptoms may engage in mental compulsions or avoidance behaviors to manage their obsessions. For example, one may repeatedly check their thoughts, research extensively to eliminate doubts, or mentally neutralize their negative thoughts with positive thoughts.

If you identify with some of the symptoms mentioned above, it's essential to seek professional help from a mental health expert trained in treating OCD, especially those specializing in Pure O. With the right treatment, individuals with Pure O OCD can learn coping skills to manage their obsessions and improve their quality of life.
Do you have any suggestions on how to find the right kind of therapist?
@EveHarrington, finding the right kind of therapist is essential to ensure that you receive effective treatment for your mental health concerns. Here are a few suggestions on how to find the right therapist:

1. Ask for referrals from friends and family who have had positive experiences with a therapist. Personal recommendations can be an excellent starting point in finding a suitable therapist.

2. Check organizations like the American Psychological Association or your local psychological association for a list of licensed mental health professionals near you.

3. Use online mental health directories like Psychology Today or GoodTherapy to search for therapists based on location, types of treatment they offer, and areas of expertise.

4. Research the therapist's credentials, experience, and approach to treatment before scheduling an appointment to see if they are a good fit for your needs.

5. Consider reaching out to a trusted healthcare professional, such as your regular doctor or psychiatrist, for a referral.

6. Try utilizing teletherapy services, as it can be more accessible and may expand the options available to you.

Remember, finding the right therapist can take time, and it's okay to switch therapists if you feel like they are not meeting your needs. It's critical to remember that you deserve a therapist who understands and respects your concerns, and will work with you to develop an effective treatment plan.
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