Unraveling the Connection Between OCD and Physical Sensations
OCD – Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a mental health diagnosis that most of us are well aware of. We’re all aware that the symptoms caused by obsessive-compulsive disorder can cause severe mental and emotional distress, but were you aware that OCD can also cause physical sensations? The physical sensations brought on by OCD are not well recognized but that does not mean they don’t exist.
These OCD physical sensations can also be called distorted body sensations. When most obsessions could be recognized as physical sensations, it can be challenging, especially for people living with obsessive-compulsive disorder to resist acting out the compulsions.
If your obsessions are physical or not, with the right understanding of the symptoms, the right intervention, help, and support, it is possible to treat them.
In this blog, we’re exploring more on what is the link between OCD and physical sensations, how can it be connected with intrusive thoughts, and how one can cope with them.
OCD Physical Sensations: Is There a Link?
While OCD can cause physical sensations, it is found that those physical sensations often focus on the ones that already exist. If you have OCD, then you might suddenly become hyper aware of your heart rate. You may not be able to focus on other things, but your heart rate. You may also begin to worry about it, feeling that something is wrong with your heart.
There are also instances when people living with OCD experience somatic sensations that don’t exist. Here’s a common instance;
If you live with OCD, then you may begin to have a body sensation that makes you feel like your limbs are dirt-covered. You might even “feel” the dirt, even if it isn’t there.
This is one of the types of physical sensations that people with OCD frequently experience. Some other examples can include;
- Hyper-awareness of the need to go to the bathroom
- Unable to stop focusing on one’s breathing
- Feeling “crawling” sensations
- Unable to stop focusing on how many times you blink
- Seeing dots in front of your eyes
- Feeling “burning” sensations
- Feeling an obsessive need to itch or scratch yourself
People who experience OCD physical sensations have a more difficult time controlling their compulsions, suggests a recent study. It is also believed that OCD physical sensations can be tricky to diagnose. In any case, these body sensations are all types of obsessions, and often like any other obsessions, they might all lead to compulsive actions.
OCD And Intrusive Thoughts
In some cases, OCD physical sensations can be linked to intrusive thoughts, caused by OCD. Obsessions (unwanted, intrusive thoughts) can often elicit feelings of anxiety, distress, and fear in a person.
Intrusive thoughts can also do that. Some common examples can include;
- “There’s dirt on my hands. Anyone who will touch them will fall sick.”
- “I am not blinking enough. If I don’t do that, I’ll go blind.”
- “My arm won’t stop itching. Am I allergic to something?”
- “If I throw up, someone will slip and die.”
- “If I don’t go to the bathroom, I might wet the bed.”
In other circumstances, these thoughts are just thoughts, but for someone living with OCD, it could be something they truly believe in, especially when they are accompanied by physical sensations.
Can it be Related to Psychosis?
Well, it is believed that OCD physical sensations act like “quasi-hallucinations”, a link with psychosis. Hallucinations are something you hear, smell, and see – something that is not there. OCD isn’t a psychotic disorder. People with OCD are aware of their body sensations more than what can be said for people with psychosis.
With OCD, there’s a logic to things along with anxiety, and physical sensations they feel can just be an accompaniment to that fear and anxiety. People with OCD are quick to realize that their obsessions are irrational. People with psychosis are not self-aware and might often believe that their hallucinations are real.
What Causes OCD?
There are no certain causes of OCD but it is said that factors such as genetics, neurological underdevelopment, brain chemical imbalance, and environmental factors can contribute to OCD.
Now, talking about physical sensations in OCD, there is even less evidence to prove what causes it. In a 2015 study, it was suggested that people with OCD’s somatic sensations may be caused by poor self-awareness and self-insight. However, there are no particular causes found yet.
How to Cope With OCD Physical Sensations?
One of the most recommended treatments for OCD physical sensations is exposure and response prevention therapy. ERPT is one of the most effective treatments for obsessive-compulsive disorder. In ERPT, you can track your obsessions and compulsions and see how much distress each thought causes. Then, as the treatment progresses, you learn to resist the urge to engage in your compulsions. This helps you eventually stop reacting to your obsessions.
Another way to treat OCD can be medications. Antidepressants can be used to treat the severe symptoms of OCD. Only a professional can prescribe medications so be careful and do not take any OTC medications without consulting a physician.
Other self-help strategies that can help you control your OCD symptoms can be;
- Avoid reacting to your compulsions
- Join an OCD support group
- Try relaxation techniques such as deep breathing
While OCD physical sensations can be challenging to live with, they can be treated as any other OCD obsession. Addressing and treating them is the same as addressing and treating any other obsessions or compulsions. With the right interventions and treatments, you can treat OCD and physical sensations effectively.
I hope this blog helped you understand what OCD physical sensations are and how to treat them. For more, feel free to write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or DM us on social media.