Worry and Anxiety: Becoming the Captor, Not the Captive

Understanding Anxiety Does Not Have to be Complex

I Need to Lose Weight. What Could I Do?

Have you recently thought to yourself, “I need to lose weight”? If so, perhaps you want to know what you could do. The truth is you may know what you could do. You may have a wealth of knowledge and you might have even followed the advice of various experts.

Perhaps you know where you struggle — you start off strong, but struggle to sustain outcomes. This article is written to get you thinking and maybe even curious about translating those thoughts into action while feeling great.

With serious health problems, increased medical costs, epidemic rates of obesity, and a general sense of knowing I “should,” why do so many struggle?

The 50+ million internet articles would like to tell you, or just sell you. It’s hard to know what is true anymore. We now know obesity is a medical condition. The Body Mass Index, a height and weight ratio, has been one measure to define overweight and obesity, though it seems body fat percentages, body’s muscle, bone, fat, water percentages, and bioimpedance metrics are quite common.

We also know there are drugs, procedures, programs, fads, and I tend to think it seems almost anyone can call themselves an expert based on the many tools and services claim they understand. I want you to ask: What is best for your health, happiness, and vitality?

A healthy weight is an important part of health, wellness, and vitality. We have all experienced or know of a family member with weight-related health conditions like high blood pressure, high blood sugars, sleep problems, high cholesterol, pain, depression, anxiety, and hormone dysregulation.

Turns out, there are many reasons to lose weight, including health, wellness, or maybe even someone else that you care about. Yet, even knowing a healthy weight is an import part of health, wellness, and vitality does not equal a lifestyle of healthy choices.

It can be difficult to decide what to do for one reason because they all tell you how fantastic and effective they are. Did you know that the studies have shown that just about any diet can result in weight loss?  That when you look at most programs, they address weight loss and management, and include fitness, nutrition, behavior, and some kind of behavioral change?

What most do not point out is the abundance of evidence towards a healthy lifestyle is practicing a whole food, plant-predominant diet with regular physical activity, restorative sleep, and stress management.

Instead we have articles running the gamut on how to lose weight fast, quick, naturally, with this or that eating habit, or this frequency, intensity, time, or type of exercise.

So maybe instead of arguing about how the programs differ, we can unite in what worked for you. I would love to hear what worked, what did not, why, and see if we could use this strength because I believe you have the ability.

At this point it is no wonder that one in three Americans are obese. The media content is confusing. The messaging can stray from the fundamental evidence and maybe at the end of the day it really does not matter who or what works as much as are you meeting your objectives. The good news is that you could treat, prevent, and even reverse your health problems and start feeling well and vibrant. Luckily, change does not have to be drastic.

Diet, exercise, and behavior change are undeniable influences on health. Sure, it matters what you eat, but how and when you eat are equally as important. Knowing what to do versus how to do it are different. Remember all that knowledge does not always translate into action but what you likely do know is it is hard to lose weight and keep the weight off. It is much easier to eat 500 calories than burn off 500 calories.

Losing weight can be confusing, frustrating, and outright difficult. My weight fluctuated from 160 lbs to 240 lbs as a 6’2″ male. At 160 lbs I was training for triathlons and playing tennis six plus hours a day. At 240 lbs I welcomed a bottle of a Napa Cabernet, steak, and cheesecake followed by a breakfast burrito just to start the next day off right.

I felt fantastic at 160 lbs but I never had my “six pack.” I felt terrible at 240 lbs and even today that meal sounds fantastic. I had personal trainers, dietitians, meal delivery, and physicians telling me what I could do, but no one asked me how I felt. No one knew that the Cabernet, steak, and cheesecake was a reward. I was lonely but not with my wine.

I had hypertension, heart disease, obesity, shortness of breath, depression, anxiety, and felt hopeless. After two hospitalizations, I finally got it. See, during the first hospitalization, I was not ready. The second one stays with me to this day. My mom was at the end of the bed. She did not say a thing. We did not exchange any words. We did not have to. That was all I needed to initiate a change. Sometimes we change for ourselves, other times health; for me, I started for my mom.

Steps to Take Toward Losing Weight

So what could you do to get started? Below are a couple ideas to think about.

You could:

  • Identify what stage of readiness for change you are in.
  • Find the Transtheoretical Model (Stages of Change) here: www.prochange.com
  • Initiate change with small attainable steps focusing on what you could do today.
  • Work towards SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely
  • Start with a specific action today. Then create goals for the week and month that are measurable. Need help? Just ask. I would be happy to help.
  • Ask yourself, what has worked for you? What have you done well?

Sometimes we forget to focus on what we do well. Other times we disqualify the positives. The emphasis here is on your abilities, potential, and values.

What are your values? Why are you doing this? I initiated change for my mom. I sustained change for me. Maybe health and feeling happy are one of your values, you just aren’t where you want to be.

  • Do you need accountability? Do you need reinforcement?
  • Could you eliminate a certain food group? What would happen if you went through the house and threw out the sugars, salts, and alcohol?
  • We can focus on how to differentiate physical from psychological hunger later. I think this is very important.  Do you know how?
  • Can you identify your triggers or the antecedents that contribute to you making a poor diet choice?
  • Are you an emotional eater? Do you reward yourself with food?
  • Do you forget to eat? Are your eyes bigger than your stomach? Do you make the wrong choices when you are stressed?
  • Do you hate the gym?  Do you have the right clothes to exercise in?  What type of activity do you like?
  • Do you track your intake? How do you track your exercise or dietary habits?
  • Is tracking problematic for you? Maybe you perceive tracking as a chore? Do you utilize any technology? Keep in mind that tracking does not have to be a long-term objective.

Knowing what to do and knowing how to do it are different. Some believe this begins with what you are thinking. The hard part is slowing down enough to identify when those problematic thoughts get in the way.

Google or search with your favorite browser “cognitive distortions.” These are thinking patterns. It may be difficult to determine thinking patterns in the moment. Ultimately, we want to connect the thoughts to a feeling and action. Sound difficult? I can help, it does not have to be.

Quality sleep can be pivotal. Water consumption can be pivotal. Do you know how to start?

Could you apply a SMART goal to drinking more water? I think so.

Chances are, if you have read this far you probably relate to something written. Are you looking for new tools? Are you looking to initiate change and share your story? Maybe you want to stop yo-yo success. Whatever the reason, I believe I can educate, enable, and empower the attainable change you desire.

Still worried if I am a good fit? This is one reason our initial appointment could be FREE. For all I know, you may not like my colorful socks. I want to make you comfortable by being helpful, nourishing success, creating safety, and guiding through to resolution.

Schedule an appointment today.

Photos:
“Be able to love”, Courtesy of Lesly Juarez, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Man at the Crossroads”, Courtesy of Vladislav Babienko, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Change”, Courtesy of Ross Findon, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Together, We Create!”, Courtesy of “My Life Through A Lens”, Unsplash.com, CC0 License

Learning to Love Yourself When You Don’t Feel Lovable

Do I Have OCD? Signs and Symptoms to Watch For

Have you ever asked yourself the question, “Do I have OCD?” If so, continue reading, because this article is for you.

First of all, what is OCD? Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) causes people to experience frequent, recurring and unwanted thoughts, beliefs and sensations. It affects a large number of people across the United States and is one of the many disorders recognised by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth edition (DSM-5).

People with OCD find that their recurring thoughts and ideas compel them to repeat certain actions – over and over again in some cases. Some well-known examples of OCD-related behavior include washing hands to an excessive level and cleaning multiple times a day. The compulsive nature of these behaviors tends to escalate to the point where the person’s daily life is being severely affected and their quality of life deteriorates.

Not all people who have symptoms similar to OCD experience a severe impairment in the quality of their life. In some cases, OCD-like symptoms are milder, and these people are able to live relatively regular lives, albeit a life regimented by some kind of repetitive actions. These people do not meet the criteria to be diagnosed as having OCD, however. Invariably, clinical OCD has a significant impact on a person’s daily life functioning.

The rigidity of the compulsions that are the hallmarks of OCD makes life difficult for people suffering from the disorder. Generally, the compulsions are not helpful and if the person is somehow prevented from completing them, they experience significant distress. They may understand that their thoughts and obsessions are unhelpful but find it stressful to try to stop the thoughts and behaviors.

How is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Diagnosed?

As with many other mental disorders, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder has a number of criteria that a person must meet in order to get a diagnosis.

DSM-5 defines obsessions as:

  • Thoughts, urges or images that are both recurrent and persistent, and which the person experiencing them finds distressing and intrusive. These kinds of thoughts and urges cause a significant level of anxiety and distress.
  • The person with obsessive thoughts and urges makes attempts to deal with them by performing some kind of action, known as a compulsion.

Compulsions are defined as:

  • Behaviors that are completed repetitively, such as checking and re-checking doors, repeated hand washing, ordering items alphabetically or numerically.
  • Mental activities that are performed repetitively, such as counting, praying, and repetition of words sub-vocally.
  • These are actions that the person feels compelled to complete due to a particular obsession or extremely rigid rules that they apply to their lives.
  • These behaviors have the purpose of reducing the individual’s anxiety or distress levels or may be perceived as a means of preventing some feared situation from happening.
  • These behaviors are not logically or realistically connected to the situations that the person believes they will prevent, and/or are performed in a highly excessive manner.

Other things that are considered when a clinician is assessing a person for OCD include the types of obsessions and compulsions and the amount of time that is spent on them.

Generally speaking, for a diagnosis of OCD, the obsessions and compulsions would be required to take up at least an hour a day or have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life in terms of distress, social impact, a person’s ability to work, and the impact on family life. The way that a person with OCD functions on a day to day basis is an important aspect of diagnosis.

Do I Have OCD?

If you’re wondering, “Do I Have OCD?” it’s important that you take an evaluative look at your life. For example, someone who has addictions to drugs, alcohol or prescription medications would not fit the diagnostic criteria for OCD, especially if the behaviors are caused by the addictions.

Likewise, underlying medical conditions need to be considered as a cause for obsessive or compulsive behaviors, and other mental health disorders need to be ruled out. It is not helpful to be diagnosed with OCD if it is another mental health issue causing the symptoms.

One example of mental health disorders that can be confused with OCD is body dysmorphic disorder. People experiencing body dysmorphia are obsessive about their appearance. Only a mental health professional is adequately qualified to differentiate between mental health disorders that may resemble OCD.

Examples of Compulsions in OCD

  • Cleaning the home repeatedly
  • Washing excessively
  • Counting
  • Excessive re-checking of things – for example, locks, door handles, switches and appliances.
  • Excessively checking in with friends and family members to make sure they are safe.
  • Repeatedly ordering or re-arranging things into a specific order or what you perceive as “perfect.”

Examples of Obsessive Thoughts in OCD

  • Being afraid of being infected by germs
  • Being afraid that you might hurt yourself or someone else
  • Experiencing intrusive thoughts and images of a violent or sexual nature
  • Excessive focus on superstitions – things that you regard as either “lucky” or “unlucky.”

Treatment Options for OCD

With OCD, one of the most effective treatment options is therapy. Some therapists would argue that therapy is essential if you want to understand and overcome your obsessions. There are a variety of therapy options that are suitable for working through the issues associated with OCD.

A common therapy option for OCD is known as exposure and response prevention (ERP). Therapists who specialize in the treatment of OCD tend to use this form of therapy more than any other type. ERP is actually a type of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). ERP has two primary components. Exposure, as the name suggests, requires someone to expose themselves to the same situations, thoughts, objects and so on that trigger the anxiety and compulsive behaviors.

The response prevention stage of ERP is about choices. When exposed to a compulsion trigger, you have a choice whether or not to begin the compulsive behavior. The goal of ERP, therefore, is to work with a therapist in order to reach the point where you can choose not to begin the compulsive actions. Once you can choose not to engage in compulsive behavior with the therapist, you can work on making that same choice on your own.

Some people are alarmed by the idea of deliberately exposing themselves to the things that trigger their obsessive compulsive behaviors. It is a frightening prospect since the disorder is a result of maladaptive coping mechanisms designed for avoidance. With ERP, you have to make an active choice to face the triggers head on. Despite the fear this may cause, ERP is actually a very effective means of developing a range of tools to help you cope with your OCD.

Medication for OCD

Therapy is very effective for OCD, but another treatment option is medication. You can talk to a Psychiatrist about what medications can be prescribed. Even if you decide not to use medication, it is still helpful to explore the options available.

The type of medication most frequently prescribed for OCD belongs to the SSRI class – medications that are usually prescribed to treat the symptoms of depression. SSRIs have been shown to be effective in helping people to manage the symptoms of OCD. When SSRIs are used to treat OCD, however, higher doses tend to be needed than when treating depression. These higher doses are still safe and do not usually increase the side effects.

Helping Yourself When You Have OCD

Working through the issues surrounding your OCD with a professional is a great start in treating the disorder, but professional help is only part of the solution. Generally, therapists will ask clients to complete homework exercises, such as practicing the techniques learned in sessions.

Additionally, there are other things that you can do that will have a positive impact on your overall wellbeing as well as your recovery from OCD. Finding ways in which you can relax, discovering successful distraction techniques and spending time on activities that take your mind off both your disorder and your treatment are all beneficial.

Yoga Meditation

When it comes to relaxing, yoga and meditation can be an excellent place to start. You may find that your OCD treatment can become exhausting, particularly when you’re working on the more challenging exposure aspects. Practicing yoga and meditation can help you to learn how to quiet your mind when you’re feeling anxious or distressed.

Mindfulness

Calming your mind can also be achieved through the practice of mindfulness. It is a technique that is sometimes learned during therapy sessions, but once you understand the principles, you can practice whenever you feel the need to. Your therapist can give you advice, and there are also books that you can use to expand your understanding of mindfulness.

Exercise

It’s a well-known fact that exercise is beneficial for a wide range of mental health conditions – including OCD. When you exercise, you have an outlet for feelings of frustration, and there is the additional benefit in the release of endorphins. When endorphins are released, your body is flooded with chemicals that trigger positive feelings. You don’t have to go to the gym, either. Simply going outside for a brisk walk is just as effective.

Be your own cheerleader and advocate

It can be tempting to look to other people for acceptance and/or praise, but it is important that you don’t rely on others in that way. It’s much better for your recovery if you learn to self-affirm by praising yourself as you progress along the recovery journey. Be your own best cheerleader. It’s also important that you advocate for the things that you need, too.

Don’t wait for perfection before adopting an attitude of gratitude

This advice doesn’t just apply to people with OCD. In all areas of life, you should learn to stop waiting for some kind of perfection or completion before you allow yourself to be grateful. You don’t have to be fully recovered in order to feel grateful. Celebrate where you are on the journey, and the small victories as well as the big ones. You can be grateful for today instead of only focusing on the future.

Talking to God and Looking to His Word

Whatever trials that we face in life, it’s important to remember that we can always lean into God for support. God is always available to offer comfort and gives us the hope that we need in difficult times. The Bible can offer a lot of help when you are struggling. Here are some examples.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and loving kindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. –  Psalm 23

What this Scripture is saying is that the Lord, who is our Shepherd, will guide us to find everything that we need, including water, food, love, and work – in the same way, that a shepherd would with a flock of sheep. God helps us even when we deviate from what is right. When the psalmist says, “I shall not want,” it’s a clear reference to the fact that God promises to take care of our needs. God protects us; therefore, we have no reason to worry.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5-6

This verse from Proverbs is a great source of comfort for many people, particularly during difficult times. God says that He will direct our journey through life, but we have to make a complete commitment to Him. When we focus on God and His Word, we’re allowing Him to lead us and depending fully on Him. To fully focus on God, we have to be intentional about turning our thoughts to Him (rather than focusing on our struggles, such as obsessions).

Some other Scriptures you may find helpful are:

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. – 1 Peter 5:6-8

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. – John 14:27

Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. The Lord be with you all. – 2 Thessalonians 3:16

Faith Without Works is Dead

It is certainly true that God will always be there to support, comfort and guide us, and we can put our trust in His faithfulness to us when we seek Him. A short verse in James 2:26 reminds us that “Faith without works is dead.” Every Christian needs to consider this verse, no matter what you are facing. While we absolutely need to be reading the Bible and praying and trusting in God to help us in our difficulties, we have to put in the work ourselves, too.

There is nothing wrong with praying to God and asking Him to help you on your journey towards recovery from obsessive compulsive disorder. However, it’s important that you remember that while God will help and support you, you have to put in the work yourself, too. When you combine God’s guidance with your own efforts (both alone and with a therapist) to recover from the symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, you are in a much stronger position.

In Summary

Although Obsessive Compulsive Disorder can have a huge impact on people’s lives, it is very treatable. There is hope of recovery for everyone who is struggling with the distressing symptoms. Don’t be afraid to reach out to a Christian counselor to help you work through the difficulties that you’re facing. Recovery can be a big challenge, but when you lean on the support of God and others around you, it is possible to walk free from OCD.

Photos:
“Eye,” Courtesy of Guiliamar, pixabay.com, CC0 License; “Day 021” Courtesy of Holly Lay, Flickr.com, CC BY 2.0 License; “Meds”, Courtesy of Jessica7191, Pixabay.com; CC0 License; “Prayer”, Courtesy of Reenablack, Pixabay.com, CC0 License

How to Actively Fight Depression

When depression strikes, it infiltrates every area of life including your thoughts, feelings, and actions. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are more than 300 million people who suffer from depression across the globe.

Depression has a way of preventing people from even seeking out healthy ways to combat its effects. For the person experiencing depression, it can literally feel like nothing will make your situation better. However, there are some practical steps to actively fight depression in your life.

Depression is serious and identifying a proper treatment plan and finding help is going to improve your chances of recovery significantly. Unfortunately, depression is multifaceted and simply trying to “change your attitude” often isn’t the remedy for such a dynamic disorder.

The first step is to understand the common symptoms of depression and determine if you are experiencing these systems regularly. These symptoms must be present for at least two weeks to be diagnosed. Some symptoms of depression described by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) are:

  • Depressed, negative or sad mood
  • Dwindling interest or excitement in things you once enjoyed
  • Serious weight loss or weight gain
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Energy levels plummet
  • Feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt
  • Difficulty staying focused
  • Indecisiveness and suicidal thoughts

These symptoms can interrupt your abilities to work, complete personal tasks, or interact with friends.

Depression is extremely common and is not a sign of weakness. Many of those who suffer from depression battle the disorder in isolation due to feelings of being ostracized by others. Unfortunately, a big stigma around depression still exists today.

When a person is in a car accident and injured, family and friends might gather around at the hospital to show their support. However, because depression often isn’t defined in tangible ways, people find it hard to discuss it with others. Many people who would have compassion on someone with a broken arm, don’t have the same compassion on someone facing a mental disorder.

People learn to suffer in silence instead of searching for someone they can trust to share their experiences with. Every individual is unique and finding ways to overcome depression might look different than someone else’s approach. Find safe people in your circle that you can confide in and extend grace to yourself as you learn to actively fight depression. The good news is that many people are finding ways to cope and hope is not lost.

Identify Fact vs. Opinion

Everybody has an opinion about depression and how to manage the disorder. Usually, people who have never experienced depression or interacted with someone who has, believe people can just shake depression off and suck it up. Misinformation is circulated frequently about depression and how it influences people.

If depression were that simple, then millions of people wouldn’t find themselves struggling with it daily. You can’t just stop being depressed on command. If someone has told you to stop feeling depressed or that if you just had more faith you would be healed, it is unfortunate that you were subjected to such narrow-minded perspectives.

God does not love you any less because you are battling depression. He is with you. He hurts to see you hurting. He can help you on your journey toward recovery.

9 Ways to Actively Fight Depression

It’s important to note that this journey requires patience. Everybody experiences depression symptoms differently and each person will discover the process that works best for their unique circumstances.

Allow your mind, body, and spirit to heal the way that is best for YOU. Refrain from comparing your journey to someone else’s journey. Let’s take a look at what other people have done to fight their depression.

Avoid isolating yourself

This is major. It’s natural to want to isolate yourself when you’re depressed. It’s almost like keeping to yourself becomes the default during a depressive state. Your thoughts become trapped in your mind and you avoid connection with others.

Depression can worsen when you are around joyful people. You begin to wonder if you’ll ever be that person enjoying an abundant life. You are not alone in this way of thinking and behaving. Isolation increases the severity of depression.

You will have to push through your discomfort to connect with people. This can be hard and feel like you are going against the grain, but having face-to-face time with those that care about you eases the symptoms of depression. Find those that remind you that you are loved and valuable.

It’s okay to have time to yourself, but don’t be afraid to bring your whole self to the dinner table with a friend. A genuine friend cares about you during the valleys and mountaintops. Getting outside of those conflicting thoughts and talking to someone else will help.

Leave your house

Many people who are experiencing depression lock themselves in their house, pull the covers over their head and watch shows that aren’t beneficial in their current state. Do what you can to get out of the home and participate in a life-giving activity. Even if you don’t feel any different, removing yourself from isolation helps gradually over time. Even if it’s taking a walk in a nature park or driving to a place you’ve never been. Staying in the house is comfortable, but counterproductive to your healing and progress.

Don’t believe the lies in your head

The mind is a battlefield and a constant tug-of-war between good and evil. Being lost in your own thoughts is incredibly dangerous in a depressive state. It’s easy to succumb to lies during this time. These thoughts might sound like, “Nobody likes me,” “Why am I even still here,” “I’m worthless,” or “I’ll never get anything right.”

Our internal dialogues determine our direction. These thoughts are not from God and can derail your healing. Lies can be hard to reject when depressed. It’s important to have someone else who can speak truth into your life and remind you who you are in Christ. Other people will be able to pinpoint the thoughts that are blatant lies. These lies can consume your mind and eat away at your mood.

Get active

Even on a good day, most people dread exercising. It’s normal to have to give yourself a pep talk to make it to the gym. That being said, incorporating movement in your day is going to be challenging, but critical to fighting depression symptoms. Exercise is known to release your body’s chemicals that help you feel better.

Depression makes it incredibly hard to get motivated because of a lack of energy. Even if you can lace up your tennis shoes and walk around the neighborhood for 15 minutes. That is a great start to getting moving. This movement, when done consistently, will benefit you tremendously. Fresh air, a dose of sunlight, moving and immersing yourself in nature boosts moods. You might even want to invite someone else along to keep you accountable.

Practice proper nutrition

Food is fuel. What we put into our body contributes toward our overall health emotionally, mentally and physically. If we fill our bodies with unhealthy food or drinks we can’t expect that our body will be efficient. Our bodies will become sluggish as a result. Adding enough protein, vegetables, fruit and eating balanced meals is important. Hydrating yourself with water is also a big deal.

I know this suggestion might seem elementary, but often when people are depressed they skip meals or binge on food that isn’t healthy. When energy levels are low, attempting to cook a meal for yourself seems like an insurmountable task. Find prepared foods that are healthy that you can rely on to fuel you.

Some people turn to alcohol or drugs to numb their pain or make them feel alive. Alcohol is a depressant and will make things worse. Any substance that alters your mood should be avoided. If you are self-medicating, please know that other options exist to help manage depression and overcome its power.

Talk to God

Depressed people often drift away from God instead of clinging to him. You might begin to question why God would let you suffer from depression or why he won’t just make your pain go away. God doesn’t want you to live a depressed life. He wants you to live an abundant life.

He is by our side in the good and bad times.

When depression hits, it’s more important than ever to seek him minute-by-minute to be your strength and guide you every step of the way. If you are involved in a church, reach out to your community to provide comfort and encouragement. You might want to look for a church program like Celebrate Recovery to get involved with. Don’t give up asking God and His people for help. Believers are here to comfort those with the same comfort they have received.

Read God’s Word

Absorb God’s Word and meditate on his promises. God gives us life-giving words on the pages of the bible that we can access and apply. Here are a few verses that display God’s promises.

I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him.Psalm 40:1-3

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.Psalm 34:17

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. – Psalm 147:3

A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.Isaiah 42:3

Try Therapy for Depression

It can be useful to have an outsider’s perspective on depression. A trained therapist has the experience to help you navigate the complexities of depression and even uncover the source of the pain. Therapy is another good tool to use in addition to the others mentioned in this article.

A professional therapist has years of experience and training and can give you resources custom-tailored to your situation. A therapist also provides a safe place to share and be vulnerable without any repercussions. Talking is an important way to combat depression.

Talk with a medical provider

If you find medication is the best solution for you, this does not mean that you’ve failed or even that you will need to take medication forever. Many people I know have weaned themselves off medication after some time. Medical intervention is necessary at times and not something to be ashamed about.

There are also other options to treat depression that a professional medical provider could review with you. Remember, using medicine doesn’t mean that you aren’t still trusting God for your healing. God can provide healing in a variety of ways.

Christian Counselors are Ready to Help

Christian counselors are ready to talk with you today in a judgment-free environment. You are not alone and you do not have to battle this alone either. Now is the time to find someone you trust and begin the journey to actively fight depression. Find someone who will be by your side no matter what. Reach out today to a trusted friend, family member or professional. Help is only a phone call or text away.

Photos:
“Depressed”, Courtesy of Rawpixel, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Down”, Courtesy of Ethan Sykes, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Depressed”, Courtesy of Nathan Cowley, Pexels.com, CC0 License; “Help,” courtesy of Ben White, unsplash.com, Public Domain License

OCD Treatment: What are My Options?

Although most people will have heard of OCD, many do not really understand what it is, leading to some misconceptions. This article gives you an overview of what OCD is and what types of OCD treatment are available to you.

OCD Definition

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is more commonly referred to as OCD. To receive a diagnosis of OCD, someone would need to experience obsessions and compulsions.

An obsession is defined as certain urges, or thoughts, or images that you experience frequently and which you struggle to avoid thinking about. Obsessions are unwanted, and they also cause a great deal of both distress and anxiety when you experience them.

When someone experiences the intrusive thoughts, images and urges associated with OCD, they try to disregard them, subdue them or in some way neutralize them by replacing them with a different thought or behavior.

For example, someone with OCD may be consumed by anxiety associated with the thought that they are going to be involved in an automobile accident, or that some tragedy will affect someone they care about.

The replacement actions that someone with OCD uses to neutralize their obsessive thinking are known as compulsions. Examples of compulsions include types of repetitive actions or mental acts. Someone with OCD may repeatedly wash their hands, or be compelled to clean the house constantly or check several times that doors and windows are locked.

Examples of mental acts that are part of OCD include repetitive prayers, repeating words over and over, and counting. Mental and behavioral compulsions are controlled by the obsession that the person has or by certain rules that they believe they have to follow strictly. The person uses the compulsions as a means of reducing anxiety levels or preventing anxiety entirely, or, in some cases, as a means of preventing some awful tragedy from occurring.

The important thing you need to understand about the compulsions is that they are not based on logical or realistic thinking. An example that illustrates this is the way that someone with OCD may be compelled to switch the light on and off three times every single time they leave a room because they believe that this will prevent their house from catching fire.

To meet the diagnosis of OCD, obsessions and compulsions must consume a lot of time – specifically more than one hour each day – as well as have a profound effect on the person’s ability to function normally.

Someone who only experiences obsessions without compulsions, or compulsions without obsessions, or otherwise doesn’t meet the diagnostic criteria, so it is unlikely that they have OCD. They may, however, have another mental health condition. When mental health professionals perform diagnostic interviews, they use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) to differentiate between different mental health disorders.

The DSM contains different diagnoses for each mental health condition; these are helpful suggestions that the mental health professional can use in deciding which diagnosis to make. Other diagnoses, for example, may more closely match what a person is experiencing, or there may be conditions that have very similar symptoms. With OCD, the specific differential diagnoses that the DSM suggests include major depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, psychotic disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

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Although anxiety is a part of OCD, anxiety disorders, including phobias and social anxiety disorder, can be differentiated from OCD because they tend to focus much more on fears of places, situations, and objects, and avoiding the feared things is the means by which they hope to reduce anxiety. There are also other types of obsessive-compulsive type disorders that do not meet the criteria for OCD.

These include body dysmorphic disorder – in which obsessions and compulsions are centered only around physical appearance, trichotillomania – where the compulsion is pulling out hair, and hoarding – in which a person experiences distress concerned with discarding items, even broken items.

Psychotic disorders that involve delusional thoughts and poor insight into the psychosis can resemble OCD but can be differentiated from OCD due to additional psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations. Compulsive-like behaviors, such as addictions to substances, can appear to be compulsions, but substance abuse is something which people find pleasurable, whereas OCD is driven by anxiety and distress.

Although obsessive-compulsive personality disorder sounds close to OCD, it presents in an entirely different way. Instead of intrusive thinking and urges, and repetitive behavior, obsessive-compulsive personality disorder involves dysfunctional levels of perfectionism and strict control over life.

Signs and Symptoms of OCD

Physical symptoms form a part of the presentation of OCD. These include compulsions, ritualistic actions, repeating words, agitation, impulsive actions, and isolating from others. Compulsions can present in a variety of different ways, but these tend to be consistent (the person’s compulsions do not change over time). Compulsions are always, in the mind of the person at least, means of alleviating anxiety.

Someone who has OCD will tend to become agitated if, for any reason, they are prevented from completing the compulsive behavior or mental action. OCD can also be apparent in people who hoard things – but in the case of hoarding, there must be distorted beliefs involved, such as thinking that a tragedy will occur if they have to throw something away.

While social isolation is a common symptom of a number of different mental health conditions, it is also a physical sign of OCD. For example, someone with OCD may isolate themselves socially due to obsessive thoughts about catastrophic events happening if they go outside or travel anywhere. This aspect of OCD can lead to depression in addition to OCD.

People with OCD tend to experience certain mood states more than others. Anxiety, of course, is the primary mood that leads to the compulsions, but anxiety can increase when something happens to prevent a compulsion being completed. This anxiety is usually severe and disabling, and may manifest in both physical and psychological symptoms.

Anxiety associated with OCD can prevent the person from doing the things associated with normal life, including holding down a job, going out for a walk, and even leaving their home. When anxiety is persistent, it can cause panic attacks, especially when a person with OCD cannot complete their compulsive actions.

Guilt is another common problem for people with OCD. For example, a person who has the obsessive belief that their father will become sick if they don’t speak to him every single day will experience guilt if, for whatever reason, they cannot call their father one day and he becomes sick. They will believe, however irrationally, that they are to blame.

In psychological terms, people who have OCD are affected by depression and intrusive thoughts that they believe they have no control over. While other symptoms of OCD are more obvious to others, these psychological symptoms are less discernible because they are internal.

That being said, internal feelings can emerge as behaviors such as anger or agitation. When someone with OCD is experiencing these symptoms, it’s important that they feel supported and able to discuss their struggles with friends and family.

What Can I Do About OCD?

If you think that you may be suffering from OCD, it’s best to speak to your doctor about it. Talking with your doctor about the symptoms that you’re experiencing and the way that you are feeling can help you to begin the process of managing your condition.

You may want to discuss with your doctor whether it would be helpful for you to be referred to a psychiatrist. Your doctor may also be able to recommend a therapist who is experienced in working with people who have OCD. Seeing a therapist can be beneficial for helping you manage symptoms and giving you tools to help you cope better with daily life. Another option that can help you is joining a support group, where you can discuss your struggles with other people who experience symptoms of OCD.

Parents of children who have, or are suspected of having, OCD need to offer non-judgemental support to their child, and do their best to try to understand the struggles that their child is experiencing.

You need to understand the levels of anxiety that your child is dealing with, and also appreciate that the obsessions they have may be difficult for them to put into words. While their behaviors may seem irrational and frustrating to you, remember that OCD is a mental illness that your child is not in control of.

You need to be patient with your child and help them to express how they feel about the things that are causing them anxiety. If you suspect your child is experiencing OCD, you should seek help as soon as possible.

Early intervention can give you and your child the support you need to better cope with the symptoms of OCD. Taking your child to a psychiatrist or pediatrician is one means of early intervention; another is to seek the help of a therapist who works with children with OCD.

You should look for a child therapist who has experience in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). These therapeutic interventions have been shown to be most effective for OCD.

Teachers who observe behaviors and other symptoms that may suggest OCD can discuss their concerns with the school psychologist, who will be able to begin a process of getting help for the child who is struggling.

It is important to remember that a child with OCD isn’t being deliberately disruptive in class, and you should be patient and supportive when dealing with behaviors associated with OCD. The school psychologist should be able to give you guidance on how best to respond to the child with OCD.

What OCD Treatment Options are Recommended?

There are several different OCD treatment options that are commonly used to help manage the symptoms of OCD. These are Evidence Based Treatments (EBT) that have been proven to be effective for people with OCD. The two major OCD treatment methods are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). These are often used in con junction with support groups.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy aims to challenge maladaptive thinking patterns and help people to change the way that they feel and behave. For OCD, CBT is effective because it can directly challenge the obsessions that are illogical and irrational. By changing thoughts from the irrational to the rational, people with OCD experience changes in the way that they feel and may not feel so controlled by their behaviors and compulsions.

Exposure and Response Prevention therapy (ERP) is a process by which therapists who have trained in ERP techniques will effectively expose their client to a situation or object that normally causes anxiety and help their client to respond in a different manner – i.e. to respond without engaging in the compulsions. ERP is a treatment that takes time as it can only be done in small increments after the person has developed techniques to control their anxiety.

For example, in a situation where a person believes that if they don’t back in and out of their parking spot three times before they turn off the engine, they will kill someone on their next journey, ERP would first focus on giving the person a range of coping skills.

Then, the therapist would start with something small such as starting the car and then turning it off again without going anywhere. Starting small like this gives the therapist the opportunity to assess anxiety levels and to reinforce the coping skills in order to bring anxiety levels down to a manageable point. In small increments thereafter, the therapist will aim to get the person to be able to pull into a parking spot and immediately turn off the car.

Support groups provide people with OCD the opportunity to meet with other people who understand their difficulties and help them to realise that they are not alone in what they experience. Another benefit is being able to learn coping skills and to have hope for better levels of functioning by seeing how others are better able to manage their symptoms.

Although therapeutic treatments are the most effective for OCD, medication is also an option that can be discussed with your doctor or psychiatrist. Medication is not right for everyone, and your doctor will take individual factors into consideration before prescribing.

Now What?

If you are looking for help in managing your OCD, or are worried about someone close to you who is struggling with OCD symptoms, it is advisable that you consult a doctor who can put you in touch with a therapist experienced in treating OCD. The road to healing is much easier when it is walked in conjunction with a trained professional.

A Christian counselor can help you to heal and be transformed, in conjunction with both God’s presence and your own efforts to challenge your thinking. Secular therapists can also help if you’re not able to work with a Christian counselor due to insurance restrictions. If you’re unsure what your insurance will cover, your provider will be able to give you a list of approved therapists.

Many Christian therapists will offer a risk-free initial consultation, and when you are looking for the right therapist for you, it can be helpful to make several risk-free appointments with different therapists so you can find the therapist you are most comfortable with.

Photos:
“OCD”, Courtesy of Airpix, Flickr.com, CC BY 2.0 License; “Venetian Blinds”, Courtesy of Sheila Tostes, Flickr.com, CC BY 2.0 License; “Day 021” Courtesy of Holly Lay, Flickr.com, CC BY 2.0 License; “Sunbeam Landscape”, Courtesy of Lars Nissen Photoart, Pixabay.com, CC0 License