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Surveys suggest that up to 94% of people experience at least one intrusive thought in a given amount of time. Most of them do not register them as an issue as they rarely cause any disruptions in life. The real problem begins when these thoughts become not only intrusive but obsessive.

A person with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) relentlessly experiences these intrusive thoughts, often with an intensity that seriously impacts their wellbeing.  Instead of having a neutral response to a passing thought, such individuals develop a response felt by their body and mind. The more they perseverate on a thought, the more stress they experience. This vicious cycle continues for a long time, causing distress and impacting their ability to function.

So what can be done to stop these thoughts from running your life? Seeking an OCD thoughts treatment at a professional rehab is the way to go for a chance at recovery.

Managing OCD thoughts is impossible for most people, especially when no support is available. In such circumstances, joining a professional rehabilitation centre to undergo carefully-curated treatments can significantly benefit the overall recovery.

Most rehabs providing mental health services offer the types of treatments to cure OCD thoughts:

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

CBT is an evidence-based highly-effective therapeutic programme used internationally to manage several health conditions, including OCD. It works on the principle that the development and intensification of OCD thoughts occur due to a series of deeply ingrained dysfunctional thought processes that force individuals to evaluate situations in an unhealthy way. This therapy aims to address these negative patterns of thoughts that form the basis of OCD for most people. Additionally, it helps clients examine why they developed these patterns to prevent relapses. It also aims to manage anxiety associated with OCD and prevent clients from engaging in harmful behaviours often observed as a part of the disease.

Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy (ERP)

ERP therapy is a therapeutic technique that encourages clients to face their fears gradually until they learn to tolerate and possibly overcome the anxiety they provoke. The process of ERP focuses on teaching people how to get rid of OCD by letting the obsessive thoughts wash over them instead of developing an urge to neutralise them.

As a part of the ERP therapy, experts repeatedly expose patients to stressful situations to test their fears and expectations. The process occurs gradually, providing enough time for the patients to tolerate the anxiety without engaging in any practices to reduce it. This therapy aims to help clients:

  • Learn to give up control
  • Repeatedly tolerate discomforts without any response
  • Resist the compulsions

Through consistent exposure to stressful situations, patients slowly find it easier to face their fears and the anxiety they provoke. They are able to generalise what they learn through this therapy and apply it in other areas of life.

Eye Movement Desensitisation and Re-Processing (EMDR)

Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) is a therapy designed to treat different mental health issues, such as addiction, anxiety, emotional trauma, and OCD. It allows the person on the receiving end to process an emotional experience that they find difficult to discuss. Following this treatment, patients can quickly develop the ability to discuss their traumas openly and in a way that might have proven challenging in the past.

OCD Medications

Many patients require a combination of therapy and medication to reach recovery. Medications can help reduce anxiety, reduce the risk of relapse post-treatment, and act as an additional buffer against OCD thoughts. The most commonly used drug to fix OCD is selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), a type of antidepressant medication. These medications have an edge as they are not addictive and may produce effects within weeks. However, it is still important to continue taking it for at least a year or more for complete recovery.

Most interventions for OCD mentioned above are provided on an outpatient basis where clients attend clinics every day and return to their homes at the end of the session. However, for some, this level of care may not be practical enough to achieve recovery, and a more intense programme might be required to make progress.

If regular outpatient programmes have failed in getting rid of OCD for you, a more intensive level of care might be required. Fortunately, most rehabs dealing with this issue offer a variety of options to undertake, depending on how severe the symptoms are.

Traditional Outpatient 

As a part of this therapy, patients meet their therapist for individual sessions as often as recommended. Generally, one or two sessions are advised, each lasting for 40 to 50 minutes.

Intensive Outpatient

This level of care incorporates individual and group sessions with certified therapists daily, several times a week.

Day Programmes

Day programmes include attending treatment during the day (including individual and group therapies) at a dedicated mental health treatment centre. The session continues from 9 am to 5 pm, up to 5 days a week.

Partial Hospitalisation

This level of care is similar to Day Programmes; however, the treatment takes place in a mental health hospital.

Residential Programmes

Patients enrolled in residential programs get treatment while they voluntarily live in an unlocked mental health facility or a hospital.

Inpatient Programmes

As the highest level of care for OCD, Inpatient programmes are offered in a locked mental health hospital unit. Patients seeking this programme are often unable to care for themselves or pose a risk of safety to themselves or others. The treatment goal is to stabilise the patient and transition them to a lower level of care within a few weeks.

Distorted behaviours and thoughts associated with OCD can easily interfere with an individual’s quality of life without any treatment or self-care. Untreated OCD thoughts can easily lead anyone into social rejection, isolation, and a sense of despair.

In addition to seeking professional therapy, the following self-care tips can help you cope with obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours:

Limit Caffeine

Caffeine has been associated with amplification of the anxiety symptoms. Hence, avoiding it can prevent you from developing symptoms like tensed muscles, scattered thoughts, and sleeping difficulties.

Avoid Alcohol and Drugs

It’s pretty common to find comfort in alcohol or drugs. However, when these substances leave the system, the body’s adjustments can contribute to anxiety and jitteriness. Moreover, there is always a risk of developing a dependence as OCD makes you vulnerable to addictive behaviours.

Regulate the Sleep Patterns

Sleep is an integral part of a self-care routine, especially for people with underlying mental health issues. A lack of sleep can lead to overwhelming feelings, cause emotional dysregulation, and make one less tolerant of stress.

Stay Active

Physical activity is one of the best ways to control anxiety stemming from OCD thoughts. Exercise promotes the synthesis of the “feel good” hormones in the body, relaxes the tensed muscles, and boosts energy. When performed regularly, it also makes anxiety more manageable. Even something as simple and easy as a walk in the neighbourhood can provide you with all these benefits.



The Balance RehabClinic is a leading provider of luxury addiction and mental health treatment for affluent individuals and their families, offering a blend of innovative science and holistic methods with unparalleled individualised care.


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