Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) can have a negative impact on a person’s emotional well-being and ability to function effectively. It can be especially difficult to manage when OCD develops as a result of trauma. There is a link between trauma and OCD. It can be hard to treat when symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) also occur. It is important to also address symptoms of PTSD, when a traumatic experience leads to OCD.
What Is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
OCD is a mental health disorder characterized by both obsessive thoughts or sensations and compulsive actions. Those experiencing OCD have distressing thoughts that cause them to engage in repetitive behaviors to decrease anxiety related to obsessions. Although anyone can experience distressing thoughts at times, those with OCD have persistent thoughts requiring strict behaviors to manage them. If they are unable to perform these behaviors, they become very distressed. The repetitive behaviors are very time consuming, taking up at least an hour of their day. OCD can cause significant impairment in functioning in one or more areas of life.
Although many with OCD recognize that their obsessions are unrealistic, it’s not enough to stop them from engaging in compulsions. Obsessions are thoughts, sensations, images, or ideas that lead to fear, anger, disgust, and other distressing emotions. Fears related to something happening to a loved one, images of a distressing event, or thoughts of harming a child can cause a great deal of anxiety. In fact, the obsessions can become overwhelming.
In order to relieve the overwhelming anxiety, a ritual must be performed. Compulsions are behaviors that a person feels compelled to do in order to alleviate the anxiety created by the obsession. These compulsions can be related to the obsession, or completely unrelated. Compulsions such as repeatedly checking things, constantly washing hands or cleaning, or repetitively counting to a certain number, can significantly interfere with a person’s quality of life.
OCD And Trauma
Trauma refers to any distressing event that overwhelms someone’s capacity to cope effectively. While not everyone that experiences trauma will develop OCD, research shows a link between trauma and OCD, especially childhood trauma. This can include a single event, like being the victim of a violent crime, or more complex trauma, such as repeated sexual abuse. Childhood trauma can lead to obsessive thoughts and compulsions and a diagnosis of OCD.
PTSD And OCD
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and OCD can co-occur at a very high rate. This has caused some to suggest that these disorders are on the same continuum. The obsessive thoughts associated with both can lead to hypervigilance and compulsive behaviors. These behaviors are to help manage the thoughts, flashbacks, and anxiety common in these disorders. For instance, if someone was involved in a house fire, it would be normal for them to want to check their home for possible fire hazards for a period of time afterwards. However, if this behavior continues after several months, becomes compulsive and interferes with their ability to leave the house, or fall asleep, they may have developed PTSD and OCD.
Treatments for PTSD include trauma focused cognitive behavioral therapy (TF-CBT), brainspotting, and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). In TF-CBT you learn about the trauma and create a narrative to process the trauma. While doing this, you use techniques to help calm down the central nervous system. EMDR and brainspotting enable you to access stored traumatic memories. Accessing these memories enables you to reprocess them through the use of certain tools and bilateral stimulation. The most common treatment for OCD is exposure and response therapy. In this therapy, you are exposed to the stimulus that causes anxiety without being able to engage in the compulsions. It is important to treat both PTSD and OCD. Treating only one can lead to an increase of symptoms in the other.
If you have experienced a trauma and are having symptoms of both PTSD and OCD, individual counseling can help. Make sure whoever you work with has experience treating both disorders. With proper help, you can learn to manage the symptoms of trauma related OCD and PTSD. Then they will no longer have a negative impact on your emotional well-being.
Although being a people-pleaser might not seem like a bad thing, it can actually cause a lot of problems. People-pleasers like to feel needed, but can easily end up feeling used and taken advantage of. If you are a people-pleaser, you most likely neglect your own needs in order to meet the needs of others, no matter the cost. People-pleasing can cause both physical and mental health issues. In order to protect your health, you need to stop being a people-pleaser. Below are 6 tips to help you stop being a people-pleaser.
What Is A People-Pleaser
A people-pleaser is someone who has a need to please others. They often do things for others at the expense of their own needs. People-pleasers are very kind and helpful and they are always willing to lend a hand. However, they can feel as though they have to do everything that is asked of them in order to be loved and accepted. They can have a hard time saying no. People-pleasers do not like anyone being angry with them and try to avoid conflict at all costs. They feel responsible for the emotions of others and tend to over apologize. They may anticipate and try to meet the needs of someone before being asked. People-pleasers can believe it is their responsibility to make other people happy.
Why Is Being A People-Pleaser A Problem
People-pleasers can be so busy taking care of everyone else, that they forget to take care of themselves. They can identify so strongly with caregiving and agreeing with others that they can lose sight of their own needs, values, and beliefs. Their kindness, willingness to help, and difficulty saying no, can lead to other people taking advantage of them. People-pleasers can become overworked and overburdened, which can lead to them harboring resentment towards those they are helping. The desire to avoid conflict can cause them to accept bad behavior from others. Putting aside their own needs can cause them to believe their needs aren’t important. If you identify with the above, there are things you can do to stop being a people-pleaser.
1. Learn To Say No
People-pleasers have trouble saying no. When you always say yes, you can become easily become overwhelmed. It will be hard to take pleasure in the things you do if you are doing too much. This can lead to feeling anxious and building resentment against the people you are helping. Saying no some of the time can keep this from happening. You don’t need to give a lengthy explanation as to why you are saying no. Keep it short and matter of fact. Start by saying no to small requests. Try not to volunteer your time, energy, and help automatically. If you have two people ask you for something, say yes to only one of the requests. Saying no to some of the things that you really don’t want to do enables you to devote your all to the things that are important to you. When you are able to say no, your yeses become more meaningful as well.
2. Delay Your Response
Although saying no is very important, it can also be quite difficult. If you have trouble saying no to the things you don’t want to do, you can delay your response. You could say something like, let me check my schedule and I will get back to you with an answer tomorrow. Delaying your response gives you time to make a more informed decision. You can then carefully consider if the request is something you really want to do, and if it is worth your time and effort. By delaying your response, you can stop your automatic yes response until you have had time to really think about what you are committing to.
3. Establish Healthy Boundaries
Establishing clear, healthy boundaries can keep you from feeling used by others. When you have healthy boundaries with both yourself and others, you will feel stronger as an individual, and your relationships will strengthen. People-pleasers often put the needs of others before their own, which can cause them to feel a lot of resentment. When healthy boundaries are established, you will be less likely to build resentment. For instance, if your friend always calls you to talk about her problems at dinner time, and your dinner gets cold, you might harbor resentment about this. Instead, you could establish a boundary. You can let her know that you won’t be answering the phone at dinner time and will only be able to talk to her after you are done eating. Once you establish a boundary, you need to make sure you abide by it as well.
4. Practice Empathic Assertion
Since it can be hard for a people-pleaser to say no without trying to justify it, practicing empathic assertion might be helpful. Assertiveness refers to standing up for yourself and what you need in a calm, positive way. Empathy is the ability to understand another person’s feelings from their point of view. When you put the two together, you can respond in a way that acknowledges the other person’s situation or feelings, followed by a statement in which you stand up for yourself and what you need. If a friend asks you to come early to help with a party they are hosting at the last minute, you can respond with empathic assertion. You could say, I understand this party is important to you. However, I made other plans and I can’t come over early. This might be an easier response to give to your close friends and family members since it is a lot softer than simply saying no.
5. Know Yourself
It is easy for people-pleasers to be very aware of the needs and wants of others. However, it can be difficult to know your own wants and needs. In order to know what is important to you and what you want and need, you need to know yourself. Spend time alone with yourself daily and figure out your likes and dislikes. Listen to your inner voice and figure out why you are really doing something for someone else. If it is just so they will like you, or because you don’t want them to be upset, maybe you should say no. When you are clear about what you want, you can start saying yes to yourself and meeting your own needs instead of worrying about everyone else.
6. Practice Self-Care
Once you know yourself and your needs, you can start practicing self-care. Self-care is about giving yourself the things that help you feel refreshed, calm, and energized so you can thrive. This includes eating healthy meals, exercising, engaging in activities that you enjoy, and spending time with friends and family. It can also include meditation, mindfulness, practicing gratitude, getting your hair and nails done, and taking a relaxing bath. Self-care is not selfish. In fact, when you take good care of yourself, you have more to give to others.
To start focusing on your own needs and stop being a people-pleaser, try these tips. If people-pleasing is having a negative impact on your emotional well-being, therapy can help. When you stop trying to please everyone else, you will have the time and energy to care for yourself and do the things that bring you joy.
Being an empath can be challenging at times. Your high sensitivity can feel more like a burden, than an asset. However, being an empath is not necessarily a negative thing. There are many positives to being an empath as well. Below are 10 benefits of being an empath.
Empaths readily notice and tune into the emotions of others. You see the pain and suffering of everyone around you. It is probably easy for you to absorb the feelings of others as well. You are highly attuned to your surroundings and everyone in it. Empaths are very aware of subtle changes and can easily become overstimulated by sounds, smells, noises, and crowds. While having so much empathy can be difficult at times, there are also a number of benefits associated with being an empath.
1. Good Intuition
As an empath, you are very intuitive. When you absorb the emotions of others, you rely on your own gut feelings and intuition to make sense of everything. This enables you to notice subtle changes in body language, facial expression, and tone. You easily pick up on discrepancies in what is being communicated. Because of this, you will be able to tell when others are being dishonest. It won’t be easy for anyone to lie to you. If someone tells you nothing is wrong, it will be easy for you to tell if this is accurate or not.
Empaths are very creative. Since you pick up so much from your environment, a creative outlet provides a way to express it. You put a lot of emotion and energy into everything you create. Your creative efforts often move others because of this. Therefore, you can be quite successful in any field that requires creativity. This includes working as a writer, artist, dancer, actor, or chef among others. If you don’t work in a creative field, you will benefit from a hobby where you can use your creativity.
It is natural for empaths to want to help others. This is not limited to friends and family. You may also go out of your way to help a stranger. Because you are so good at understanding what others are experiencing, you often know what type of help will be most effective. Your trusting nature and kindness draw others to you, especially those in need. People turn to you for your sound advice and excellent listening skills. Helping others helps you feel good, as you are flooded with positive emotions that reinforce your helpfulness.
Empaths are very compassionate and understanding. It is easy for you to show kindness to others and to champion the underdog. You truly love being in nature, young children, and animals. They are naturally drawn to you as well. Seeing others in distress causes a great deal of discomfort. Your compassion knows no bounds. You feel a strong desire to comfort anyone that is suffering, emotionally, physically, or spiritually.
Because you are so attuned to your environment as an empath, you are very aware of any changes that occur. This can help you avoid uncomfortable, or even dangerous situations. The energy of a place is noticed immediately and deeply felt. When the vibe in the room is positive, it enlivens your mood and makes you feel great. Likewise, you also notice when something is off with someone you are close to. Because you are so aware, you can provide others with a safe space to share, and you usually know just what they need as well.
6. Healing Energy
Empaths have a very healing energy. Others are often soothed simply by being in your presence. Feeling someone else’s pain gives you a stronger insight into what they need most. When you understand another’s pain, you can also understand what might help them. The ability that empaths have to really hear and understand someone can be quite healing on its own.
7. Feel Others Emotions
As an empath, you not only notice the emotions of other people, but you are actually able to feel them. This enables you to understand others on a deeper level. If you are with someone who is excited, you can experience the excitement as well. When you are with someone who is positive and joyful, you can experience these wonderful feelings as strongly as if they were your own. This can cause you to feel amazing.
8. Experience Feelings Deeply
Along with experiencing other people’s feelings strongly as an empath, your own emotions are deeply felt as well. If you are feeling some harder emotions such as sadness, or fear, you are able to process them quicker because you allow yourself to feel them so deeply. When you are feeling more positive emotions, you are able to fully feel them as well. This allows you to relive the enjoyable experience that created the wonderful feelings, so you feel the feelings all over again.
9. Meaningful Relationships
Empaths do not enjoy superficial relationships. Therefore, an empath usually has very deep and meaningful relationships. This is true of friendships as well as romantic relationships. Since an empath is naturally understanding and compassionate, you find it easier to forgive others. This can help improve the quality and duration of your relationships. You are always there with support when anyone close to you is suffering.
10. Enjoy Alone Time
Alone time is very important to empaths. You need alone time to process your feelings and to differentiate your emotions from the emotions of others. Alone time gives you a chance to decompress and daydream. Since you rely so much on your intuition, and you possess a strong imagination, alone time helps you strengthen both. When you engage in time alone, you are able to recharge your batteries so you are not as overwhelmed by overstimulation.
While being an empath can have it’s challenges, there are also many benefits. If you are struggling with some of the challenges of being an empath, individual counseling can help. By focusing on the benefits of being an empath, you can enhance your overall emotional well-being.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is often thought to primarily affect children. However, adults can also have ADHD. Adults with ADHD may have different symptoms than what is commonly seen in children. This can make it hard for adults with ADHD to receive a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment. If left untreated, ADHD can have a negative impact on an your ability to function effectively. This article considers some symptoms of ADHD commonly seen in adults.
What Is ADHD
ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder commonly diagnosed in children. Children with ADHD have trouble with impulse control, organization, and focus. While the exact cause of ADHD is unknown, there appears to be a hereditary component. ADHD is thought to impair the executive functions of the brain. The three types of ADHD include, hyperactive-impulsive type, inattentive type (formerly known as ADD), and combined type. In the hyperactive-impulsive type of ADHD, there is little impulse control and there is a lot of fidgeting, talking, interrupting, and impatience. The inattentive type is characterized by forgetfulness, lack of follow through, and being easily distracted. Those who have the combined type of ADHD experience a combination of symptoms related to both the hyperactive-impulsive type and the inattentive type. ADHD impacts around 11% of children and 5% of adults. Although ADHD is primarily diagnosed in childhood, adults that never received a diagnosis can also be impacted.
ADHD In Adults
ADHD childhood symptoms can continue into adulthood and can have a negative impact on your ability to function effectively. It is also possible for adults to receive an initial ADHD diagnosis after the age of 18. Those who experience the inattentive type of ADHD might not have received a diagnosis in childhood, as their symptoms were not as disruptive to others. ADHD in adults can cause problems in your work life, relationships, and health. Adults with ADHD are more likely to experience other mental health disorders, such as bipolar disorder, or depression. In fact, about half of all adults with ADHD also experience an anxiety disorder. If you have ADHD as an adult, your symptoms might present differently than they do in children. Recognizing the symptoms of ADHD in adults can help you get proper treatment so the symptoms don’t have a negative impact on your functioning.
Impulsivity can be an issue for adults with ADHD. You may have trouble waiting in line, waiting your turn to speak, or even driving safely. Mood swings can be common and it can be difficult to control emotional outbursts. Spending money on a whim, engaging in risky behavior, and impatience can cause problems in your relationships. Impulsivity can include coming up with unusual ideas, needing to talk out loud, and saying whatever comes to mind whether or not it is appropriate.
Time Management Issues
Adults with ADHD struggle to manage their time effectively. This can cause issues with others if you are constantly late, or forgetful. It may be difficult for you to organize your schedule. You may be forgetful and have trouble remembering things that you need to do when you really don’t want to do them. You might misplace important items, such as your car keys or phone, which can cause you to be late to meetings. Time management issues can have a negative impact on your work life and your relationships.
A lack of focus can be a problem for adults with ADHD. Tasks that are boring, or no longer interesting can be very hard to complete. There may be a number of projects around the house, or even at work that are only partially completed. It may be hard to listen to others in conversations and pay attention to details. Trouble focusing in adults with ADHD includes difficulty sustaining attention and being easily distracted. This can lead to problems on the job and with the important people in your life.
Along with a lack of focus, hyperfocusing can also be a symptom of adult ADHD. Hyperfocus, or intensely concentrating on something so deeply that you ignore or fail to notice anything else, is also related to ADHD. When you hyperfocus, it is easy to lose track of time and others around you. This may be helpful in certain work environments. However, it is often problematic in relationships as those close to you might feel like they are not a priority in your life.
Restlessness can be a symptom of ADHD in adults. Like children, some adults with ADHD can have trouble being still. You may feel constantly keyed up and always want to be moving. This can lead to a lot of frustrations when you work a desk job. Fidgeting, getting up frequently, and engaging in some form of physical activity can help with restlessness. If your thoughts are also restless, you may experience anxiety as well.
ADHD can have a negative impact on your job. It could be hard for you to complete certain tasks. You may have difficulty remembering to attend meetings, or be on time to work events. It could be difficult to sustain interest in the job you are doing and you might impulsively quit. Some of the symptoms of ADHD can make your work life very stressful. It is not uncommon for adults with untreated ADHD to have trouble keeping a job.
Adults with ADHD can suffer from health problems. Mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression are common in adults with ADHD. Forgetting to take prescribed medication, neglecting to schedule doctor’s visits, and ignoring minor health issues can occur with ADHD. Sleep disturbances and poor eating and exercise habits can also be seen in adults with ADHD.
Relationship struggles can also occur in adults with ADHD. Problems can be noticed in friendships, work relationships, romantic relationships, and with family members. Due to the symptoms of ADHD, you might be seen as insensitive, irresponsible, or uncaring. Others may view you as unreliable and inconsistent, which can take a toll on your relationships. It can sometimes be difficult to engage in and maintain close relationships because of your ADHD symptoms.
If you experience several of these symptoms and it is impacting your ability to function effectively, help is available. After receiving a diagnosis, a combination of medication and cognitive behavioral therapy can help you successfully manage symptoms of ADHD. This can improve your health, work, relationships, and overall emotional well-being.
Everyone gets caught up in worst-case scenario thinking, or catastrophizing at times. However, when you catastrophize, you reinforce the negative and this can become your normal way of thinking about the future. This can lead to anxiety and depression as you become caught up in a negative thought spiral always asssuming the worst. In order to decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety and start feeling better, you need to stop catastrophizing. Below are 5 ways you can stop catastrophizing so you can start feeling better about the future.
What Is Catastrophizing
Catastrophizing is a cognitive distortion, an unrealistic, unconscious way of thinking that reinforces the negative. It is when you imagine the worst-case scenario is the most likely outcome of a situation. One way of doing this is by taking a current situation that didn’t go the way you planned and believing that it will end in disaster. For instance, your work presentation didn’t go well so you imagine getting fired and ending up homeless. Even though this is a very unlikely scenario, your imagination takes over and you begin to believe this will happen. Catastrophizing also occurs when you think about your future and imagine all the ways things can go wrong. This creates a pessimistic outlook and possibly even a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure and a future of doom and gloom.
Why You Catastrophize
As a thinking being, you are able to remember past events and imagine future possibilities. This can be a good thing as it enables you to utilize your past to help you achieve your goals and plan for the future. However, this can also be problematic as it can lead to catastrophizing. You may believe that thinking about the worst-case scenario helps you prepare for it. Catastrophizing can even be a learned behavior as you witnessed your parents doing this and adopted it for yourself. It is related to anxiety disorders and even posttraumatic stress disorder. When you catastrophize, your brain releases cortisol and your amygdala (fight, flight, or freeze response) reacts to the danger that you are creating. While you may catastrophize initially to try and make yourself feel better, it actually causes you to feel worse. You reinforce the fear and helplessness you feel related to negative thoughts and end up feeling hopeless. If you notice yourself catastrophizing, there are things you can do to help.
1. Feel Your Feelings
Catastrophizing keeps the focus on the future instead of the present. This stops you from feeling your current emotions. Instead of working through your feelings, catastrophizing lets you avoid them. Although this may seem helpful at first, avoiding your emotions intensifies them and can lead to feeling additional negative emotions. In order to lessen the emotional impact of difficult feelings, you need to feel them so you can process them. Spend some time everyday identifying and feeling your feelings. When you are able to process your feelings, catastrophizing can significantly decrease.
2. Write It Down
If you keep ruminating on the worst-case outcome, writing it down can help. Writing down what you are catastrophizing can stop you from constantly thinking about it. Putting it down on paper engages the left hemisphere of your brain which can help you view the situation more logically. As you reread what you wrote, you can look at it more objectively. Doing this enables you to alter it so that it becomes more realistic. Instead of accepting your catastrophizing as the absolute truth, you can begin to notice the flaws in your thought process.
3. Practice Mindfulness
Practicing mindfulness can stop you from focusing on the imagined problematic outcome. When you are being mindful, you are fully present in the here and now without judging it. Catastrophizing is future oriented. It requires you to focus on an imagined future. In order to stay in the present moment, you can engage all of your senses and ground yourself in the present moment. You can look around you and name 5 things you see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste. Noticing your breath, breathing from your diaphragm, or meditating are other ways you can practice mindfulness. As you become more mindful, catastrophizing will decrease.
4. Follow It Through
Sometimes, following a catastrophic thought all the way through can be helpful. By following it all the way through, you can end up going beyond the feared outcome to ways that you can cope with it. Doing this can help calm your anxiety. This enables you to notice some of the things that are within your control. If you follow it through, you may also begin to notice the flaws in assuming the worst. Then you can begin to look at the situation more realistically.
Reframing your negative thoughts can help you stop catastrophizing. In order to reframe your thoughts, you have to pay attention to your negative thinking patterns. When you catch yourself catastrophizing, challenge these thoughts. Come up with at least three other ways of thinking about the situation. Doing this causes your brain to start considering other possibilities that aren’t as negative. Then you can replace the worst-case outcome with something more positive. Reframing your thoughts also changes the feelings associated with your thoughts. This can help you feel more optimistic and hopeful about your future.
If you notice yourself catastrophizing, you can try the above tips. As you start taking control of your thoughts, feelings of anxiety and hopelessness can improve. However, if catastrophizing is having a negative impact on your emotional well-being and functioning, therapy can help. With practice, you can learn how to stop catastrophizing so you can have more hope for the future.