What causes OCD? (video)

When it comes to the question of what causes Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, the simple answer is that the causes are complex. But what I really want to emphasize when it comes to any anxiety disorder, is that it really doesn’t matter who or what is responsible for getting you to where you are. What matters is who is going to be responsible for your recovery, and the answer to that question is always the same: YOU.

 

 

121 comments On What causes OCD? (video)

  • Hey mark,

    Do you know if religion could cause ocd?

    • It’s very common for people to have compulsions that involve religion. In fact, one of the first recorded mentions of what we now know as OCD symptoms comes from a book called “The Anatomy of Melancholy”, published way back in 1621, that mentions a guy who was afraid he would or had blurted out something inappropriate while he was in church. But, religion doesn’t “cause” OCD. If it did, every person who was religious would have OCD. What I have noticed, however, in working with people as they recover, is that recovery is often accompanied by a change in a person’s relationship with their religion or higher power. OCD invades everything in our lives so a religious practice can become compulsive and unhealthy, just like anything can. But recovery is all about learning how to have that relationship in a healthy way that fuels a healthy lifestyle and empowers us to reach our goals.

  • Thank you Mark. You really have answer a question ( if religion cause ocd) that I try took look for answer for a long time. The reason I ask this question because I just recently read an article where it says if you believe in punitive god you have more chances of having mental illness like ocd and general anxiety.

    And one more question if I focus on my compulsion only like you mention in your video would it really help with my ocd. Or do I need to apply the exposure part too

    • Focusing on eliminating compulsions is where you practice exposure. For example, if somebody was constantly check that the door was locked, they would expose themselves to that situation by closing the door and then not checking the lock. But I always recommend finding the exposures you encounter in your daily life. You are already frequently exposed to anxiety, so practice eliminating the compulsions in those everyday situations first.

  • Mark,

    This OCD is just to freakin strong. If my wife says anything I could OCD on it for days. If I question her about it it drives her crazy and makes my OCD worse and opens the flood gates. I stopped for 3 days and that was amazing. I guess I have to keep looking at it as clouds passing by in the sky like you said in a video. When she flat out refuses to answer me because she knows its OCD. It Kills me . HELP!

    • Sorry to hear you’re struggling with this. But it’s great you’ve seen that stopping feels amazing. AND it’s great that your wife understands that she shouldn’t answer you. Just as she knows not to answer your questions because that will only fuel your OCD, you’ll find it helpful to recognize that trying to answer the questions your brain throws at you will also just make your OCD worse (and make you miserable). When your brain throws uncertainties at you, it’s okay to not chase after them and try to answer them. You can stop engaging in the compulsions. If you haven’t sought therapy, see if you can find a professional experienced with OCD recovery. A type of therapy called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is great for learning to separate yourself from the questions your brain throws at you. That might be something useful to try if you can access it.

      • Mark,
        When stopping a compulsion I feel a pain, kind of like pressure in my head, mostly in the front area like the forehead is this normal ? Also when staring to stop a compulsion at first I can’t think clearly like my mind goes into a fog, but after a while is gets better is this also normal?

        • Trying to second-guess, and be certain, is all part of OCD trying to get you to ruminate. Accept what your body does. When I started to cut out compulsions, I described it as feeling like my brain was going to jump out of my head. It’s a very physical experience so it’s not surprising at all that you would experience this.

  • Hi Mark,

    You mention to me before in a previous post that focusing on your compulsion and not the obsession would help me . But I find me exposing myself to the obsession and applying ritual prevention afterwards works better for me why is that?

    • What you’re doing is what I meant by that earlier comment. Earlier, I said: “Focusing on eliminating compulsions is where you practice exposure. For example, if somebody was constantly check[ing] that the door was locked, they would expose themselves to that situation by closing the door and then not checking the lock.” <

  • Thank you Mark you always a great help to everybody that follow you on youtube or on your website. I misunderstood what you meant in the comment of 12 weeks ago. I always thought compulsion lead to obsession and that if I just focus on the ritual prevention aspect and not really focus on the exposing aspect I would be doing the right thing to help my ocd

  • Hi Mark,

    Do you know anything about mental compulsion? If you do what’s a good treatment to stop them?

  • Hi mark I have an important question does exposure and response prevention cause some kind of depression. I ask because every time I do an exposure exercise I start feeling down and sad like my whole mood change.

    • That’s very normal. When you stop a compulsion, it’s just like stopping any addiction: you experience withdrawal.

      • Thank you mark you are the best. So should I keep doing exposure therapy even it make me feel feel a little bit depress .

        • Well, it’s best to do exposure therapy with a professional. I don’t actually know what you think “exposure therapy” means. So I would recommend getting help with doing ERP.

  • Hey, I like your videos on YouTube it really put light on my situation. I have felt with ocd for over s decade and its always a stumbling block in my life. Its caused pain and discomfort and stress on my marriage. One day I came to my breaking point where I had a breakdown to where I was debating on taking my own life then I realized that I deserved to live and that ocd had to go or my husband was going to go. I chose him,I met him before I knew ocd existed ,but even though I don’t spend too much time on my rituals anymore I still do some. I have one that won’t go away its about bad thoughts. I’m always afraid of being pregnant and my mind says If I think about being pregnant it’ll come true even if I take birth precautions. Its really frustrating and no matter how hard I try the thought still emerges,please give me advice of fighting the last part if this sick thought. Thanks,for all the videos it good insight and inspiring. Your funny too u could be a comedian lol

  • Hi Mark

    Are you familiar with “just right OCD ”

    Is where you do compulsion not because of the obsession but because you have to do the compulsion until it feels right and if you don’t do the compulsion you also have a feeling of incompleteness. If you are familiar how you go about it in treating it.

    Thank you
    Miguel

    • It’s really the same as any “theme” of OCD: there’s a feeling and you react to it with compulsions to get rid of the feeling.

      Just like with any OCD symptoms, to get over it, we learn to experience the feeling we don’t like–so in this case it would be the feeling that things aren’t right–and then instead of reacting to that feeling by trying to make things feel “right”, we just let the feel incomplete. There’s nothing wrong with a feeling of incompleteness or uncertainty. These are feelings that it’s ok to have. Reacting to them is a choice.

  • Hey Mark,

    I wanted to know your opinion on this, when I do erp to treat my OCD I get a feeling of depression, is this natural? When I exposed myself to the obsession can this cause some type of feeling of depression? If not what’s the relationship of ocd and depression. Also is there any other treatment that I could try beside erp.

    Thank you Mark

    • When you say you’re doing ERP to treat OCD, do you mean you’re working with an experienced therapist to cut out compulsions? ERP is all about cutting out compulsions, but you just mentioned exposing yourself to obsessions, which isn’t a way of doing ERP that I’m familiar with.

      If you’re struggling at all with overcoming OCD and you find that you’ve been trying to treat it on your own for many months with little progress, I’d strongly recommend working with an experienced professional that has a track record of helping people recover from OCD. It is treatable, but trying to use our own brain to change our own brain can get tricky. ERP, when done correctly, is very effective. Because it’s all about cutting out compulsions, progress should be obvious quite quickly. As soon as you cut out one compulsion, you’re making progress!

      Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is another effective approach that I’ve found very useful. That could be a great one to check out but like I mentioned, if you find yourself stuck, it’s great to work with somebody or to follow a structured program from a workbook.

  • Isn’t erp confronting to the thing you are afraid of but at the same time refraining from doing any type of compulsion that would helps you escape that fear?

    • Can you provide a specific example of what you think that means and how you’ve been going about doing that?

      • Sure,
        One of my fear that I have is any thought that has to do with Aids, as a result I would do compulsion like say certain words to myself to get rid of he thoughts about aids, I also do things repeatedly like going in and out of a room or turn off the light on and off multiple times just to get rid of he thought of aids. From my understanding what erp is that you expose to the thoughts aids ( the things you are afraid of) until your axinety drop and not do any compulsion, after you exposed yourself to the obsession (thoughts of aids).

        Also sometimes I do compulsions just because a because I need to feel a(just right feeling) and not necessary because of an obsession. Example of this turning the tv on and off until feel just right, also placing my toonbrush a certain way until feel just right. I want to know how do you go about treating this type of ocd if just doing the compulsion because a feeling that feel just right and not because of an obsession.

        • That’s not an approach to ERP that I’m familiar with. It sounds like you’re really focusing on the obsessions and also trying to get rid of them. But OCD is all about trying to get rid of anxieties or worries or feelings or thoughts or whatever you want to call them. Focusing on the obsessions can become a barrier because we don’t control the stuff in our heads. You do control those things you’re doing as a reaction to the stuff in your head, like turning off the lights, adjusting the toothbrush, etc. ERP is all about cutting out compulsions, so for the second thing you mentioned, it wouldn’t matter whether you’re experiencing a feeling or a thought or anything else–the approach would still be about cutting out the compulsion. If you can access an experienced professional or get an OCD workbook to go through, that could be a big help so you’re not having to sort these things out through trial and error. If you’d like some recommendations on books to try out, let me know.

          • Thank you Mark, and yes I really would appreciate of some recommendation of books to read. Thanks again for taking the time to reply.

  • Hi Mark,
    I have been struggling for years obsessing about my weight when I was younger I always struggled to gain weight. For several years now, I have been extremely concerned about losing weight or maintaining my weight. I obsess whether or not that I ate enough or feel full. I am always conscious of how full my stomach is and the thought of skipping a meal or not finishing a meal makes me anxious and depressed. Eating feels almost like a job to me at times. I like to weightlift etc… and know that it is important to eat often and a lot to gain muscle. However, injuries have limited a lot heavy lifting but still feel a need to eat a lot to feel big. There are a lot of other thoughts that go into this, but I don’t want to take too much of your time haha. Any feedback would be appreciated.

    • Food and exercise-related anxieties and compulsions are very normal to encounter. I had all sorts of different compulsions around food and exercising as well. For me, tackling those issues as part of dealing with my mental health in general, and improving my mental health in many areas of my life, helped me find healthy ways to make food and exercise supports for achieving my goals in life. In the past, my relationship with food and with exercising was fueled by fear. Everything I did was about trying to prevent things from happening. I was trying to control what other people thought instead of doing things to build my own life, a life that I would be happy with, that didn’t depend on trying to control others. There were many areas in my life where my actions were all about reacting to what I thought others might think. As long as I was teaching my brain that reactive pattern in some areas of my life, it was going to want to practice it everywhere in my life, so getting over that meant eliminating that pattern everywhere. It’s likely that the patterns of behavior you’re experiencing around food and exercise also exist in other areas of your life, although they may not bother you as much. It helped me to cut it out everywhere. And I replaced that with having clear values around things like health that helped me guide my actions. I switched the fuel that powered my life, from fear, to values. Instead of doing things to try to stop bad things from happening, I started doing things to make good things happen.

  • Hi Mark,

    I’ve recently ventured into ERP therapy for my OCD, and have started small as you suggested, cutting out smaller habits, and then moving onto bigger ones.

    One of my main fears, is fear of a fatal blood clot moving to my heart or brain, and killing me in my sleep.
    I was wondering how to apply the same principles to something like this.

    Something where real symptoms are present, and it’s not entirely in your head.
    I’ve been finding it difficult to go to sleep at night, for worry that I simply won’t wake in the morning.

    For health related OCD fears, I struggle to apply ERP principles, for they are always coupled with physical symptoms, and aren’t entirely in your mind.

    Is there any advice you could offer in this area?

    Thanks very much, your videos are fantastic.

    – Linden

    • Hi Linden,

      There will almost always be “real” symptoms. When I first went to see a therapist, I went to get help for depression. Even though I was spending hours on OCD compulsions, I didn’t think they were a problem at all because I had reasons and they were all “real”. So first off, watch out for OCD trying to convince you that something is different because it’s based on “real” symptoms. Real or not makes no difference. I thought all of my fears were rational and real with lots of evidence to support them.

      You might find this video useful on finding the root of OCD fears and practicing ERP and Acceptance with that instead of the superficial symptom: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FEzwp1sgRfA

      The reason I bring the video up is because it doesn’t sound like your afraid of blood clots. It sounds like you’re afraid of dying. The blood clot is just the superficial thing your brain has latched onto. And I bet you have other compulsions that are also driven by trying to control or avoid death. Digging down to those fears at the roots and learning to accept them can be valuable. If you’re engaging in other compulsions throughout the day as a reaction to the fear of death, that’s reminding your brain that death is something to avoid, so when it gets to the end of the day, it wants to keep worrying about that. When people are struggling with anxiety at bed time, I always suggest cutting out compulsions during the day as a first step.

      You might find that Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT) has useful tools/skills you can apply to death-related fears and compulsions. I have an e-book on Acceptance I can send you (just send me your email through the Contact form) or you can find many great workbooks on Acceptance online. I’d recommend any book with Steven C. Hayes as one of the authors.

      • Thanks very much for the links and the reply, mark.

        I understand it much better now,
        When I look at my OCD ‘themes’, many of them have revolved around death.
        I should check out ACT.

        Would you recommend not going to the doctor about it then?

        I mean, I’m sure if there is no blood clot, they would be able to put me straight, however, if this is just one area of a larger picture, it probably won’t help in the long run.

        Thanks again,

        – Linden

  • Hello again, mark.

    I did some thinking about what you said regarding my blood clot and heart worries – that actually, I have a fear of death rather than a specific fear.

    Like I said before, my fear of death has caused me to not go to sleep until the early hours of the morning.
    This, as you can imagine, is seriously messing my day up.

    I’m a powerlifter/bodybuilder. Have been for five years.
    Recently though, because of this worry, I haven’t been able to bring myself to workout, for fear my usual heavy lifting is going cause me to die suddenly from an underlying cardiac condition, a blood clot, or whatever.
    Every little twitch, pain or sensation I feel in my chest, I worry is something serious.
    Consequentially I’ve been noticing my chest hurting usually at least three times a day, or having random sharp pains or bubbling sensations.
    I actually went to the doctor a month ago to have an ECG scan, and it came back everything was normal.
    Of course, I was convinced for a while, and then I started to worry again – it didn’t actually scan for abnormalities, it wasn’t the most accurate method to check, etc, etc.

    So this fear of death is causing me to get up really late in the day from lack of sleep, and also stop my training for fear it will kill me.

    I’ve watched most of your video’s, and the one about the uncertainty curve really made me realise what I have to do here.

    In this situation, would the best approach be to ‘risk it’ and just do my workout?

    This would obviously make my anxiety sky rocket for fear of it killing me , but if this is just my OCD, I’ll be ok.

    Is this right way to go about it?

    Thanks!

    – Linden

    • Sorry for the delay in responding, Linden.

      One thing you might benefit from is working with a personal trainer for a bit and getting a structured workout plan from the trainer. Then just follow that plan instead of wrestling with your brain.

      Getting over OCD isn’t so much about “risking it”. Getting over OCD is about doing healthy things that align with your values. Staying at home and not working out is the risky thing. OCD mess up perspective and get people looking at the world only through the lens of fear. Instead of focusing on overcoming the fear, it helps to focus on the healthy you that you’re building. Working out isn’t about risking something, it’s about doing something healthy. BUT it’s important to being working out to build health, not to control some other fear. For example, if somebody is exercising just to look a certain way because of what they think others will think about them, that can quickly become wrapped up in OCD, too. It’s a reaction to the fear of what they think others think. Even exercising can become a way to practice OCD. So I always recommend people get a plan from a trainer and stick to that to build health, not to try to control other people’s brains or react to personal worries or fears.

      Make it healthy!

  • hi mark i love you lot for your lovely and life changing tips

  • hi mark kindly help me
    please..
    whenever i drink water i feel that iam shallowing obessisive image that would contaminate me..
    when iam alone i do compulsion by vomiting..to calm my mind..
    always i feel contaminated..
    and when i dont do compulsion i get nervous..and sick sometime..

    and when i stop doing compulsion..i get depressed

    • Are you able to access a therapist you can work with that’s experienced in helping people recover from OCD? That will help with overcoming these issues as well as understanding other areas that OCD is affecting in your life. Even though there’s usually one or two symptoms that bother us the most, there are always other OCD symptoms that are less bothersome but are equally useful to eliminate.

      Not doing compulsions is tough so it’s helpful to work with somebody. Any kind of exercise is difficult at first. Engaging in compulsions is like a drug for our brains. So the more you do it, the more you have to do it to get the same effect. When you stop it, your brain goes into withdrawal. What you’re experiencing is a totally normal reaction to stopping an addiction. But the more you go back to doing the compulsion again, the worse you’ll make the experience of stopping it.

  • if i beat ocd
    will ocd go away..

    please tell me am i a victim of ocd as i have obessisive thought..and i try to stop it by doing some action..

  • as iam a teacher
    i get to much stressed
    iam always fighting with thoughts
    i can resist it

  • i feel tough to stop compulsion..i do rituals such as spitting two three times

  • I WANT YOUR HELP
    I FEEL STRESSED
    PLEASE BROTHER..HELP ME..
    HOW TO GET CURED?

    • Building great mental health is the same as building great physical health: it’s a process. It involves cutting out compulsions, throwing away unhelpful beliefs, changing everything else in your life to support mental health and fitness.

  • is it ok that iam feeling tough to start the process..is it not a another depression?
    i take anti deppresants so should i stop taking

  • thanks for previous answer..
    plz suggest with my second comment

  • Hey Mark first thing first thank you for helping people all around the world with your amazing videos and tips in beating ocd. I also want to ask you about a study that was conducted that’s say beleving in punitive ( punishing) God was related to mental health issues like axinety including OCD. What do you think about this study and how can we used this study to help us with our ocd.

    Thank You

    • Thanks, Miguel!

      I have read that study and there are also other studies that look at how people change their actions based on their perceptions of God and their perceptions of social institutions, like the government or the police. Somebody who believes God should punish “bad” people will find themselves in a similar situation to somebody that believes the police are there to punish “bad” people–they’ll be afraid that they themselves might have done something “bad” and that can lead to all sorts of compulsions. So I think studies like this are a helpful reminder to watch how we practice judging others and whether we hold unhelpful beliefs about judgment.

      If somebody spends all day judging others, positively or negatively, or they believe that others should be judged, then their brain will get very efficient at judging and it’s going to do it all of the time, to others, to memories, to thoughts, to our bodies, our feelings, our relationships… and that’s going to fuel OCD.

      Learning to practice acceptance is a great antidote.

  • hi bro ..KINDLY TELL ME PLZ
    WHY I BECAME NERVOUS..I KEPT ON CUTTING COMPULSIONS..THAN I HAD GOOD SLEEP …I AM NOT FEELING STRESSED NOW…BUT SUDDENLY TODAY I BECAME NERVOUS ..HELP ME BROTHER..I AM TEENAGER AND IAM NOT LIVING HAPPY LIFE LIKE OTHERS….

    • But there’s nothing wrong with being nervous. Learn how to feel nervous. Trying to control and avoid anxiety is what OCD is all about. It’s okay to feel nervous. You can feel nervous and still do healthy things.

  • So does that mean being careful what belief we held would helps us with compulsion?

    • Beliefs are one of the things we can change to help with compulsions. The way I look at it is that we have: beliefs, then we judge things based on those beliefs, which can make us feel something we don’t like, then we have a desire not to feel that because it contradicts our beliefs, and then we engage in a compulsion to get rid of that feeling.

      You can make changes anywhere along that chain of events. Changing beliefs is a helpful way to shift the entire trajectory of the chain.

  • I LOVE U BROTHER WHOLEHEARTEDLY
    i dont want to miss i ever in my life..
    YOU R THE IMAGE OF JESUS FOR MEE LOVE YOU…
    THANK U VRY MUCH..

    PLZ tell me onething is right or wrong
    i am thinking my obsession as addiction and unrealist..
    and iam trying not to bother this bad thaught..

    BUT WHY SOMETIME IAM TRAPPED AND I FEEL THIS UNREAL THOUGHT AS REALLY THE REAL THOUGHTS.
    IS IT GOOD TO TAKE ANTI DEPRESSION TABLET..
    PLZ REPLY

    • I appreciate the love.

      I can’t tell you if something is right or wrong. That would only help to feed the OCD.

      It helps not to judge thoughts as “real” or “unreal”. It’s all just stuff in your head. Let it float by.

  • Mark you are a genius. You are a great help to so many people. You deserved an award for helping people around the world and giving us useful tools to help us gain great mental health.

    Thank You
    Miguel

  • BRO PLZ LET ME KNOW HOW DID U REALISE THAT YOUR OCD HAS GONE

    DID U BECOME NERVOUS WHILE CUTTING DOWN COMPULSIONS

  • Hi Mark,

    I got forgot to ask you one question are you familiar with Dr. Jeffrey M. Schwartz and his book brain lock. He way of treating ocd is with a 4 step method, and one of the step is that you need to say to yourself this is not me is my ocd when having a urge to do a compulsion, this would help you have space between you and the cycle of ocd. This step remind me of one of your video “You are not your thought” I was wondering do you think this method is a good way to overcome compulsion.

    • Hi Miguel,

      I think if it works for you, then it’s a useful approach. For me, I never identified things as OCD thoughts or non-OCD thoughts. They were all just thoughts and part of the problem. So I never labelled something as an “OCD thought”. I just treated it as a thought, and that meant I could just let it go. I thought all of my OCD symptoms were very real and I had reasons for all of my compulsions, so trying to figure out what was OCD and what wasn’t was not an approach that I found very effective for me. It all comes down to seeing what gets you to your goals.

  • BRO PLZ LET ME KNOW HOW DID U REALISE THAT YOUR OCD HAS GONEDID U BECOME NERVOUS WHILE CUTTING DOWN COMPULSIONS

    • hi bro….plz tell me how should i answer my negative questions ..

      what to do when my brain throws negative questions..

      • For me it was helpful to learn that I don’t have to answer the questions my brain throws at me. They can just be there. Trying to answer them is what got you into this.

  • Yea I agreed with you Mark. This approach doesn’t really work for me neither it only work sometimes for me.

    Thank You Mark

  • sometime i become trapped..and left side of my head becomes hot

    can u tell its why???
    and somtime i nervous and not able to do any work..

  • mark thanks alot
    plz reply me…
    i am trying hard to get cured..from compulsions

    BUT BRO..PLZ TELL.. I WILL HAVE TO ANSWER MY OBSESSIVE THOUGHT OR NOT..HOW TO OVOID THIS QUESTIONS FROM BRAIN ???

  • one of My negative question is that what is god ..what is it actually ..
    when ever this all question comes I go to research and further with no answer I get nervous my body starts becoming lighter ..and depressed .

    I need help mark plz
    iam not rituals.
    one problem is solved. but now you help me with this..

    • Joseph, the way you’re approaching this is part of the OCD. Researching things online when you have the questions is a compulsion. It will always make things worse. If you don’t want to make things worse, don’t engage in the compulsions.

      I recommend you see a therapist experienced with helping people overcome OCD, or if you can’t access that, purchase an self-help book for OCD through Amazon. Try a book like “The Happiness Trap” by Dr. Russ Harris, or “The OCD Workbook” by Dr. Bruce Hyman.

  • thanks. a lot BRO SO SWEET OF YOU..
    KINDLY TELL ME THAT ;IF I SEARCH ANSWER FOR NEGATIVE QUESTION GIVEN BY MY BRAIN IS IT A COMPULSION ..

    REPLY

    I THOUGHT THAT DOING RITUALS. IS COMPULSION..I dont do things over again and again after seeing your videos ..
    thank u ..so much..
    kindly reply plz bro..

  • thanks then I will focus on practical thing
    I will think for positive and useful things

  • do u know mark when I become nervous I completely loose my mood.
    I feel everything different. and in inhuman way .I become obsessive and opposite of normally life….
    I become quite and after taking antidepressant I become normal back to life..

    can give any tips related to this issue
    but I

  • do u know mark when I become nervous I completely loose my mood.I feel everything different. and in inhuman way .I become obsessive and oppositeof normally life….I become quite and after taking antidepressant I become normal back to life..can. you give any tips related to this issue.
    I dont loose sense I lose seriousness and mood..

    • Joseph, posting the same question repeatedly is a compulsion. It only fuels OCD. It doesn’t make it more likely that I’ll answer the questions. In fact, it makes it less likely. I don’t want to add fuel to your OCD.

      It sounds like you have many compulsions related to your feelings and that you’re judging your feelings in unhelpful ways that only contribute to OCD. I suggest working with a therapist that’s experienced with helping people recover from OCD.

  • hi mark you are awesome

    is it TRUE that we cant understand when ocd attack us and we think it real self. and act in ocd way

    reply
    kindly tell how to understand and handle this thing.
    becoz we can become nervous any time. and depressed

    • Joseph, these are just reassurance-seeking questions. Whatever you’re feeling is what you’re feeling. Try no to judge your feelings so much. You can feel anything and still do healthy things.

      I think you would really benefit from speaking to a therapist or following along in a workbook for OCD recovery. Just seeking reassurance on a website isn’t going to help you.

  • thank you very much

    really. after 15yrs you made me realize….

  • Hey mark do you think tackling the covert/mental rituals first would help a lot better than tackling the overt compulsion first. The reason is why because when I tackle the mental rituals first the overt compulsion is more easy to stop compare me trying to stop the over compulsion first. Let me know what you think?

    Thank You
    Miguel

    • I would shift the focus away from the OCD and instead ask what helps you accomplish your goals in life? It’s easy to get caught up in trying to figure out the right way to deal with OCD but that just gives lots of energy to something we’re going to get rid of anyway.

  • Hey Mark I’m sorry if I’m asking to much question but I want to know your opinion on this I suffered from tmj(temporomandibular joint problem)do you think this issues with my tmj could make my ocd worse. Please let me know if you came across any study related with this.

    Thank You
    Miguel

    • I’m not sure how the answer to this question would affect the healthy things you’re going to do each day that align with your values. Whether something made your OCD worse or not wouldn’t change the healthy things you’re going to do today.

  • Thank you Mark I’m going to give it a try to shift my attention away from ocd to see if that helps thanks again.

  • mark

    after reading cbt pdf
    I felt. quite good and fresh
    I understood that thoughts ;feeling are part of me..
    and I should mind them..they will not mind me or tell me how to act in my life..

    but bro
    sometime I am not able to make out that my thought is directing me ”as like today I was captured by question that is origin of universe..god..and suddenly became trapped and nervous ..as I knew it is a nonsense ..but I felt it real and important ..

    help. me

    • Hi Josh,

      The way you’re approaching these questions is making it challenging for yourself. And posting the same questions multiple times on here is a compulsion. It’s part of the OCD. Repeatedly posting identical questions isn’t going to make me answer them. I don’t want to encourage compulsions or simply feed anxiety in your life by providing reassurance.

      I removed some of the duplicate questions you posted. Asking a question is a great opportunity to practice healthy skills: post it, accept the uncertainty of not knowing, don’t go back to check for answers, do healthy things that align with your values. It can be problematic if we believe we can’t move on until we’re certain about something. OCD is all about trying to be certain so when we believe we desperately need answer to something and put our lives on hold, that’s just feeding the OCD monster. Don’t feed the monsters!

  • thanks u lot…
    sry for disturbing you with same questions ..
    I hope I will improve myself

    thanks alot BRO

  • mark
    the answer you gave really is very inspiring for me.
    thanks again.
    kindly forgive me for putting. u In trouble without any reason ..

  • Hey Mark,

    I was wondering I know stress doesn’t cause OCD, but can OCD cause stress.

    Also I want to say thank you for the tip that you previously provider for me about not focusing on the OCD and just really focus on accomplishing my goals. This tip had help me a lot and also realize this tip is a kind of a treatment to help overcome OCD.

    Thank You
    Miguel Duran

    • Hi Miguel,

      Anything can be connected with stress if we get stressed about it.

      That’s great you’re shifting to focusing on your goals instead of OCD. Keep it up!

  • hi mark….iam enjoying healthy brain..thank u so much
    but bro very less iam getting a trigger of anxiety and feel to do compulsion when am walking beside beggers and mad people on the way…suggest me plz..my ocd level as greatly got down..i feel less stressed

    • That’s great you’ve reduced the OCD symptoms. Keep it up. These triggers are a great opportunity to practice acceptance. You can anxious and you can feel the desire to do compulsions. That’s fine. Accept those feelings. That doesn’t mean you have to react to them. You can experience those feelings and make conscious decisions that align with your values and improve your health instead of reacting to the anxiety and fuelling OCD.

  • Hi Mark

    Thank you so much for your wise words! I have suffered from OCD for many a year now but some of what you have said has already surpassed the insights given to me by phycologists and phyciatrists alike!

    After taking your advice I have identified some of the roots of my anxieties and causes of obsessions and compulsions – the main one being death (my own and or someone close to me) and part of that anxiety being related to my responsibility in relating to the above. I can draw links to my parents divorce etc. etc. and can label it as a general “fear of something/anything in the future that is out of my control that negatively impacts my life”… My statement/question is: now that I have identified the root and even given it some explanation (that I cannot bear the thought of feeling like I did when my parents for divorced and fear that I might) – WHERE TO FROM HERE? The thought of death (I don’t even like typing the word) still scares me and leaves me repeating my actions as if I have some form of control even though I know logically I don’t! I even know and recognise that the fear of death represents a fear of life, but even recognising this I’m still just as scared!

    Apologies if I’ve missed the answer if it’s somewhere obvious but if you could please shed some light I’m sure you will understand how appreciative I am.

    Nick

    • Hi Nick. After identifying what you’re afraid of, the next step is typically to eliminate the compulsions you engage in as a reaction to those fears. The more you engage in those compulsions, the more you’ll experience intrusive thoughts about those fears. Parallel with that practice of cutting out the compulsions is learning to throw out unhelpful beliefs and judgments about the things that frighten you. Your beliefs about death and relationships are changeable. If your current beliefs aren’t helping you, then it can help to get new ones. Enjoy the journey!

  • Hi Mark,

    Do you know a good way to cut out mental rituals. I know cutting out the compulsion is important to start making progress in getting better, but mental ritual are harder to stop because sometimes a mental ritual happen automatically in yor mind.

    Thank You
    Miguel Duran

    • Building a meditation and mindfulness practice is a great way to learn how to get a handle on things that seem to happen “automatically” in your mind. That’s been a great help for me.

  • Hi Mark,

    I seem to have gotten over my POCD theme using ERP, but now it just seems to have been replaced with a new theme.

    What happens if each time I manage to cut out an obsession, a new one just arises?

    Also – I can’t seem to stop myself from checking mental health forums, is there anything I can do to help stop this? Or is it conquerd by using the principles you’d use to cut out an obsession.

    Thanks!

    • This is why I don’t think “themes” are useful. They’re just superficial categories. If you don’t deal with underlying fears or uncertainties, then you can cut out the superficial compulsion and a new one will just pop up to fill its place. OCD is about patterns. We experience an uncertainty and then react to it with coping, checking, or controlling behaviors. So checking mental health forums is likely a way that you’re reacting to uncertainty. It’s the same as any other compulsion. It can really help to take a very broad approach to eliminating compulsions while accepting uncertainty and acting according to your values to help you be healthy and happy over the long-term.

      • That makes allot of sense, thanks very much for the reply.
        I’ll try to put this into practice.

        By the way, you mentioned in one of your previous messages to ask you from the contact form about buying your e-book when I asked.

        I wasn’t sure where the contact form was, however.
        Is it just the ‘contact’ tab here on the website?

        Wanted to make sure I was in the right place.

  • Hi Mark,

    I wondering is there any treatment that would treat both the mental compulsion and the overt compulsion at the same time. The reason I ask because let’s say for example if I treat my overt compulsion then I ended up doing mental compulsion or if I treat my mental compulsion then I start doing overt compulsion and I know how is important to treat both to prevent relapse. Any tips or suggestion.

    Thanks
    Miguel

    • I approach all compulsions as compulsions. It doesn’t matter whether it’s in your head or outside of your head, I deal with them in the same way. With anything, we accept whatever we’re experiencing and we make act according to our values. You might want to look into why you “ended up doing” the mental compulsion or why you “start doing” the overt compulsion. You don’t have to do those. Getting some support for not doing them could be really beneficial.

  • Hi sir mark, i believe i have ocd. It started in constant confessing of mistakes to my mother and to my boyfriend, mostly it is related to my past mistakes, I just felt that there is a strong urge in me that I should tell it. I thought of God not forgiving me hence I searched in our bible publications to give me reassurance to myself. Then I had strange thoughts like words coming into my mind: “sex with mom”, “sex with our dog” and the lists are quite long. Now my obsession is God not wanting me to love others. It started when I read a bible article wherein It said that Adam loves his wife more than God that is why he chooses to obey Eve rather than Him. It said that its okay to have strong love for others but the strongest love we should feel is for God. However, its really hard for me to compare and comprehend it because God is a Spirit and its quite hard to show affection and love for Him. Although the bible says in 1 john 5:3 that obedience to God is what it really means to love him. But still I feel unworthy because I believe that I was not able to confess some of my mistakes to our elders hence I was not able to really love Him. I thought that I showed more love to my boyfriend just like what Adam did, and another thought comes that God doesnt want that. He doesnt want me to love others more than Him. And it is now getting hard because everytime I say I love you to others even though I mean it I start to feel guilty. Please do help me on my situation. I am starting to get depressed.

    • Confessing is a common compulsion. Like with any compulsion, the more you do it, the more anxiety you’ll experience and the more intrusive thoughts you’ll experience. If you can access some help from somebody experienced with supporting people recovering from OCD with evidenced-based therapies like Exposure & Response Prevention (ERP) or Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT), that can be an effective way to deal with these issues.

  • Dear Sir,

    I have OCD, as washing hands too much, worry and far away from the things because of germs, in these days mostly of those act i have controlled, not washing hands too much and not worrying for germs too much, just a one problem which make me very nervous and worry is reading of official emails, as a think come in my brain that i have not read the email correctly or can be that i had missed something in email,

    so you are kindly requested to let me know regarding the solution for this problem,

    Also which exercise is good for OCD
    and also which foods can help us more and which foods are not good.

    Thanks

    • Like with any compulsion, the way to get over it is to accept uncertainty and not engage in compulsions to check or control the uncertainty.

      Something that also helps is learning to trust yourself. When the uncertainty pops into your head that you might have missed something, practice trusting yourself.

      It’s also helpful to practice mindfulness. If you know you practice mindfulness regularly, it’s much easier to trust that you were paying attention when you read the email.

      There are likely many areas in your life where you react to uncertainties. Try to practice cutting out compulsions in all of those areas. Accepting uncertainty and learning how to act according to our values is difficult, so it helps to practice everywhere, every chance we get.

      When it comes to food and exercise, they’re great supports for healthy living, but they don’t replace learning to cut out compulsions and accept uncertainty as you act according to your values. You can develop compulsions with food and exercise as easily as anything else. So it’s important not to approach food and exercise as more attempts to control uncertainty and other feelings you don’t like. That will only fuel OCD.

  • Thank you Sir Mark for answering my question earlier. I was diagnosed with OCD. Before I had obsessions of cursing God in my mind, but I was able to accept it because I’ve read that blasphemous thoughts are not really an unforgivable sin. I am considering now doing ERP along with medication, however, my obsession about cursing God came again and I am now scared because when I have read on some of the experiences who did ERP, they are required to actually say the blasphemous thought. I am really confused right now because basically in our religion we treat the name of our God with respect and it is different when you just let it on your mind and actually saying it. Even my family find it quite offensive, now I am having doubts of doing ERP. My question is, are there any other approach in ERP that would not violate my respect for God’s name? Thank you so much Sir Mark.

    • Sure, it’s possible. I’d recommend working with a professional that’s experienced with helping people recover through ERP. What you’re describing is a way of doing ERP that I haven’t seen work particularly effective. Remember that ERP is about cutting out compulsions. So you’re not going to be trying to get rid of the thoughts. You’re going to be getting rid of your reactions to the thoughts. A big support with ERP is also learning not to judge and fear “blasphemous” thoughts. The more you want to get rid of blasphemous thoughts, the more your brain is going to give them to you so you can try to get rid of them. You might benefit from working with somebody in your church who can help you navigate the journey of building a healthy relationship with God and the thoughts in your head. Instead of running from the things you’re afraid of, it can be more effective to build the things you care about.

  • Hi Mark,

    Do you know any information about about OCD with Tics disorder. Does OCD causes tics if not treated properly. Also do you think when treating one or the other with it have an effect with each other. For example let’s say I’m treating my OCD would it also help to treat my tics? Any information would be appreciated.

    • I think it helps to look at all mental health issues as one big beast. You only have one brain. You might find it helpful to shift the focus to the healthy things you want to be doing, instead of trying to find causes or figure out how to tackle a specific symptom. Compulsions and obsessions can always change, but the healthy things you can do today to reach your goals in life won’t change.

  • Thank your Mark for your reply. Mark another question isn’t it by me focusing on something else a form a distraction from OCD I though when you distraction is not good when dealing with OCD. In other words what’s the difference between distraction and refocusing?

    • You can think whatever you want to think, just do healthy things aligned with your values. Getting caught up in trying to solve symptoms is the distraction. Sometimes, we can spend so much time with OCD that we begin to think living our life is a distraction, but what’s actually happened is we’ve gotten caught up in the distraction of OCD and aren’t living our lives.

  • Hi Mark,

    I was wondering if you’d be able to offer some advice for my girlfriend and I.

    My girlfriend is currently experiencing an OCD theme regarding out relationship – something I’ve recently found out to be often abbreviated to ROCD.

    As you can imagine, it’s making it difficult for her to be happy in that she often spikes and worries that I don’t love her anymore and attributes normal things that happen in our lives as an indicator to me not loving her.
    Me then getting frustrated that I can’t help her and I’m not sure what to do making the whole thing worse and making her go even further into it.

    I have OCD myself and haven’t yet overcome it, and I’m looking for a way for her to start and get going with CBT therapy, and anything else that might make her less miserable.

    It’s really hard at the moment because I don’t think she believes I love her or why I would.

    She also has very low self-esteem, so something to help with that might be a start?

    Thanks for your help.

    • Hi Ben,

      That’s great you’re looking into how to get started with therapy. These are issues that it’s possible to recover from and have wonderful relationships and all sorts of awesome things we want to do in life, but it does require stopping the compulsions and learning how to do healthy things instead.

      I don’t see low self-esteem and OCD as separate. Many compulsions are about not trusting yourself, trying to get rid of things you’re feeling, judging yourself, trying to control what other people think about you because you’re afraid they’ll think terrible things, etc–so the practice of OCD naturally leads to poor self-esteem. Trying to get rid of low self-esteem before tackling OCD can become a barrier because compulsions contribute to it. So it helps to cut out the compulsions first while bringing in practices that encourage better self-esteem.

      Not engaging in compulsions is a helpful way to practice trust. It’s also a great way to practice loving yourself. So beginning the process of cutting out compulsions all starts the process of building better self-esteem.

      That you’re both going to embark on this process can be very positive because you can support each other in doing this difficult work to practice accepting the stuff in your head and doing healthy things that will help you be happy over the long-term. When it comes to getting somebody into therapy, it can be very difficult, and I always encourage people to take care of their mental health first. Building better mental health and fitness is no different than building better physical health and fitness. Just as you’d have a much easier time telling somebody to go to the gym if you also go to the gym regularly, so too will you likely find it easier to share skills for better mental health with your girlfriend if you’re also getting help to put OCD behind you.

      All the best to both of you as you help each other up and over these challenges!

  • Hey Mark,

    I been watching your videos for a very long time now, and I want to say thank you for everything. Watching your videos had help me with the tools that I need to control my OCD. One of the videos that help me a lot is the video “You are not your thoughts” where it help to seperate yourself from you thoughts and by doing this it help me a lot to stop my compulsion. Once again thank you keep up the great work.

  • Hi Mark,

    I just finished watching your video, where you discussed your experience in treating OCD with another person. In the video one of you guys mention that erp is only good with observable rituals. Is this is true? If so how you go about in treating the other rituals like the mental rituals.
    Thank You
    Mike

    • You can definitely do ERP with mental rituals. However, I find that people tend to struggle with understanding that the things they do in their heads are compulsions. Acceptance & Commitment Therapy is a slightly newer form of therapy and it has some extra tools and techniques that I think do an effective job of helping people cut out mental compulsions.

  • Hi Mark,

    I wanted to ask you a question. How can I stop racing thoughts, cutting down rituals helps with me performing them less. But for some reason I still have like rumination or racing thought in my mind. Any help would be appreciated

    Thank You
    Mike

    • For me, learning how to practice meditation along with practicing mindfulness throughout my daily life has been the biggest help in learning how to stop the spinning thoughts in my head.

  • Hey Mark I really need your help. Do you know anything about OCD with Tics and its best treatment for it. The reason I ask because sometimes this both condition occur together and it sometimes refer as TPLUS or TOCD and does treating OCD first would help with the symptom of the tics? Or should I treat both Condition seperated. The reason I know I have some tics because I do a head jerking movement while doing a compulsion. Any kind of help would be appreciated.

    Thanks

  • Hey Mark,

    I recently came across online about a therapy call EFT (Emotional Freedom Thearpy) also go by the name the tapping Thearpy which claim to help with OCD so basically how it work is by every time you have the urge to do a compulsion you begin tapping like on your hands or forehead and this is supposed to help with the urge in doing a compulsion. How you ever heard of this treatment? Do you recommend it? Also do you have any tip in helping with “just right OCD” this type of ocd is not axaniety base is more you doing the compulsions because there a sense of incompleteness in other ways you doing the compulsion to feel just right. Let me know what you think. Thanks in advance

    Mike

    • I’m not sure I would call EFT a “treatment”. It’s not clear how it’s different from any other compulsion. For example, if somebody experiences anxiety when leaving the house and taps the door knob repeatedly to relieve that anxiety, that’s very obviously a compulsion. There’s no difference with repeatedly tapping your forehead. It may relieve some anxiety, just like any other compulsion, but it will only lead to more compulsions and more anxiety in the long run.

      “Just right” OCD is like any other. Feel the urge to engage in the compulsion, but don’t. You can practice this in many ways throughout your everyday life. Correcting and controlling things fuels this particular set of symptoms. It’s valuable to learn how to do things that are aligned with your values and spend your energy on creating those things rather than trying to correct and control other things.

  • Hi Mark,

    I have a question, have you ever heard of someone having OCD plus tic. Some people refer this as Tourretic OCD. If so what’s the best treatment to go about it.

    Thank You
    Miguel Duran

  • Hey Mark.
    I am obsessed with my mental health and I just can’t find out what’s the root of the problem. I am afraid to become bipolar or depressed (had a few suicides in my environment). Some time ago I was even afraid of psychosis. I work as a nurse (had the problems before i started this job) and when ever I read or hear about a patient, who had a mental illness, I automatically think that there is also something working with me. I don’t know if it’s just the fear to not be happy or more. I feel as if I am the only one with this strange kind of obsession. I constantly search in OCD forums and I also watch you videos. I am afraid to become suicidal one day, said I am obviously not very mentally stable.

    • Hi,
      This is an extremely common compulsion/obsession. Something to keep in mind is that it’s also an extremely common compulsion to go searching online for the same symptoms that you have and then judge them as not being the same. So it can also help to recognize that OCD is much more than the compulsions that might be bothering you. Engaging in compulsions to see if others have the same symptoms and then judging them as different is a way that OCD keeps itself around and keeps you engaging in compulsions. The great news is that it’s entirely possible to get over these challenges if you want. There are great evidence-based therapies like Acceptance & Commitment Therapy or Exposure & Response Prevention that are very effective with these types of challenges. If you can access therapy or a workbook to help guide you with therapy, those can be useful places to start.

  • Hi Mark,

    I have noticed you mention changing unhelpful beliefs a few times. Can we really just decide to change a belief, even if we think it is true or probably true? How would one do that? I ask because i have certain religious beliefs that are fairly ingrained, but i am beginning to wonder if they are doing me more harm than good.

    • It is possible to change beliefs but I find it most helpful to do that by changing actions. I can show my brain what I believe, and then it’ll catch up to me. But at first I’ll be acting in a way that my brain thinks is wrong or dangerous. Particularly when we see that some beliefs are not helping us do the things we want to do in life, it’s useful to start to throw out those beliefs. We can look at all of the ways those beliefs come up in our lives and make changes. For example, if I believe that my value comes from what others think about me, I might do many things throughout the day to check and control what others think. Even rereading emails might be a way that I confirm that belief to my brain. So I’d look at all of those seemingly normal actions that fuel that belief and start to change them.

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