Working With OCD When You Need to Succeed: Why Residential Treatment May Be the Answer You Need
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a challenging mental illness that can cause a number of complications. Functioning well at work is a particular challenge for people with this condition. The symptoms place a number of roadblocks in the way of performing well at work and enjoying a successful career. While there is no cure for OCD, good residential treatment helps patients learn to control their obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors. The right treatment provides tools that can be used at work and in other areas of life to manage OCD.
OCD is a mental illness that can be debilitating. It can prevent you from having normal relationships, from socializing comfortably, and from being successful at work. While family and close friends may understand what you’re experiencing, working with OCD is different. Your co-workers may have no experience with this condition.
The symptoms may interfere with your work performance and hold you back from succeeding in a career you enjoy. The good news is that treatment can help. If you can take the time to enter a good residential treatment facility, you can learn how to manage OCD symptoms and go back to work ready to succeed.
What Is OCD?
OCD is obsessive-compulsive disorder, a type of mental illness that causes obsessive, persistent thoughts you can’t get out of your head as well as compulsive behaviors that you use repeatedly to try to cope with those troubling thoughts.
If you have OCD, you know that your thoughts and your behaviors are not rational. It’s not as if you have lost touch with reality, and yet it’s still nearly impossible to get rid of those scary, disturbing thoughts or to resist the urge to complete your repetitive behaviors. This means that normal functioning and day-to-day activities are often compromised.
The Symptoms of OCD
You may not be sure if you have OCD, and only a mental health professional can diagnose you. But it may help to look at the symptoms and see if they seem familiar. If so, you need to seek out a diagnosis and get treatment. There are two main symptoms of OCD:
- Obsessive thoughts. These are persistent and intrusive thoughts that are typically troubling. They could be anything, but some common examples include a fear of being contaminated by germs, sexual or violent images, doubt that you remembered to lock a door or turn off the stove, stress when confronted with disordered objects, or fear of loved ones being hurt.
- Compulsions. Compulsions are repetitive behaviors, things you do over and over again to try to relieve the anxiety of the obsessive thoughts that are troubling you. They may or may not be related. For instance, you might order your work desk if disorder stresses you. Or, to cope with the fear that your loved ones will be hurt in some way, you might have a strict routine of turning lights on and off, which is unrelated.
OCD symptoms vary in intensity but tend to be more severe at times when you are under stress. But in every case of OCD, these symptoms interfere with normal functioning, at home, at work, at school, and in relationships. They can trigger or contribute to substance use disorders, anxiety disorders, suicidal thoughts, and physical health problems.
The Challenges of Working and Succeeding With OCD
Any area of your life can be negatively impacted by OCD, but work is particularly challenging. Any type of mental illnesses presents challenges for work, but the fears and anxieties of OCD are especially disruptive. The behaviors are also disruptive and very difficult for other people to understand.
You may be able to just hold down a job with intrusive thoughts and irrational and repeated behaviors, but you are not likely to thrive or succeed. You aren’t giving your best to any career or to your own life with these symptoms that hold you back. Some examples of the challenges of having OCD and doing well at work include:
- You have to get up multiple times—from your desk or from meetings—to wash your hands and are unable to shake hands with people you meet.
- Leaving the house takes a long time because of anxiety over locking doors, turning lights on and off, and other rituals. This can make you late to work often.
- Studies have found that as many as 75 percent of people with OCD struggle to keep up with basic hygiene and personal self-care. This can lead to awkward situations at work, but also physical health problems that prevent you from working up to your potential.
- If you have issues with disorder and feel great anxiety if your desk and furniture are not lined up “correctly,” this can lead to conflicts with co-workers.
- You may need more time to do tasks at work because of disruptive, intrusive thoughts. This makes it appear as if you are less capable than other workers.
These and many other complications at work can lead to discrimination, whether intentional or not. Your boss may pass you over for a promotion, for instance. Or, you may even have co-workers who blatantly make fun of your challenges and behaviors.
Some people with OCD are high-functioning. This means they have the fears, anxieties, obsessions, and compulsions that other people with the condition do, but they are better able to manage them or hide them from others. You may function well at work for now, but without treatment your symptoms can get worse. And, you shouldn’t have to hide them or have to live quietly while suffering. Treatment can help.
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Managing OCD with Treatment – Residential Care Can Help
OCD is a lifelong, chronic condition. It may never fully go away, but with the right treatment you can manage the symptoms and even bring them nearly to zero. What you need to manage OCD are tools that you can learn, practice, and then put into use in your daily life, especially at work.
While it may seem like residential treatment will be disruptive to your life and your ability to succeed at work, this kind of care is more beneficial to your well-being in the long run. There are a few strategies used to treat OCD, and having the time in residential care to focus on them provides the best long-term results:
- Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). This is a special kind of cognitive behavioral therapy used for treating OCD and that requires an experienced, skilled, and specially-trained therapist. ERP involves exposing a patient to what they fear or what causes anxiety, for instance something dirty, and preventing a response, in this case hand washing. The exposure can be frightening, but it is gradual and safe. When guided by a good therapist, ERP is one of the most effective ways to manage OCD.
- Medications. You may also benefit from using an antidepressant medication to reduce OCD symptoms. It takes several weeks of regular use to determine if an antidepressant will work and cause minimal side effects.
- Mindfulness training. Mindfulness practices, like yoga or meditation, can be powerful ways to combat stress and the anxiety associated with OCD thoughts. In residential care, you can learn several of these strategies to use in response to stress and as alternatives to damaging repetitive behaviors.
All of these strategies for managing OCD will help you improve symptoms and perform better at work, but they take time and practice. ERP in particular can be scary. Residential treatment will give you the time and the safe space to use these strategies and to practice managing obsessions and compulsions. You can’t get the same focus and dedication with outpatient care.
If you’re struggling with difficult thoughts that won’t subside, compulsive behaviors, stress and anxiety, and issues at work as a result, consider getting a diagnosis and treatment. OCD won’t get better without care, and with residential treatment available there is no reason to live this way. You can enjoy life and work again and be successful on the job, all by learning to manage your OCD symptoms.
Bridges to Recovery offers comprehensive treatment for people struggling with mental health disorders as well as co-occurring substance use disorders. Contact us to learn more about our renowned Los Angeles-based program and how we can help you or your loved one start on the path to lasting wellness.