Dealing with OCD

Obsessive compulsive disorder can have a massive impact on your life and, as Dr Lynda Shaw explains, it can emerge in later life through feelings of isolation and lack of purpose after retirement.

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It is common for us all to have a bit of a panic about whether we have locked the front door before we left the house or if we remembered to unplug the iron when we have finished with the laundry every now and again. But if you find these thoughts are consuming you then you may be suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, which often occurs when we are feeling overwhelmed and perhaps have feelings of being out of control.

Neuroscientific research continues to try to understand structural and chemical changes that occur in the brain when someone is affected by OCD. For instance, studies reveal that dopamine and serotonin are involved in OCD, but other researchers believe that a range of neurochemical systems may be active.

When coping with OCD the best place to start is to understand your obsessive thoughts and where they come from. If you can recognise that your thoughts have become obsessive and are limiting you, then you may be able to manage your reactions more effectively. Writing down your thoughts can help you see the repetitiveness in them and allow you to discover exactly what it is you need to deal with.

It’s always easier said than done, but talking about your compulsions will help you feel better and is another opportunity for you and others to understand your disorder. It may be hard to find the right person to talk to. Whether it is a support group, friends or family, ensure that there is always someone nearby that you can rely on. We also often become more isolated upon retirement. If you become isolated your OCD symptoms and compulsions may become aggravated.

Whether you are 20 or 70 years old, 30 minutes of suitable exercise per day can help relieve stress and release endorphins making you feel healthier and more positive, which in turn can have a direct effect on OCD.

Whether you’re a ‘Washer’, a ‘Triple Checker’ or a ‘Hoarder’; here are a few more tips to help you cope with your obsessive tendencies:-

  1. If the compulsions of your OCD means that you have to double or triple check whether you have locked doors, windows or turned off appliances, a trusted technique is to say what you have done out loud after the first time you have done it. By saying “I have locked the door” or “I have turned off the oven” you will mentally paint a picture of yourself doing the job and eliminate the need to double check.
  2. One of the most effective ways to reduce the number of OCD compulsions is to gradually face your fears or triggers. Firstly you must understand what these triggers are. Next try to expose yourself to these triggers whilst resisting engaging with your compulsions.
  3. Try to focus your thoughts somewhere else. Rather than concentrating on your obsessions and compulsions focus on what your weekend plans are or what you might have for dinner.


Last modified: June 10, 2021

Written by 5:13 pm Health

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