After my car accident, I was diagnosed with PTSD. I was having intrusive thoughts about accidents and feeling like I was in danger all the time. I was also hypervigilant and always on the lookout for potential threats. My friends and family were trying to be supportive, but I felt like I was struggling to cope on my own. I still have days where I struggle. I am hopeful that with time and continued progress, I will be able to fully recover and live a normal life again.Corinne, Canada
If you’ve experienced trauma, you may feel like you’re never going to feel normal again. The combination of OCD and trauma can add additional hardship.
When someone is obsessively thinking about a traumatic event, they are re-living the trauma over and over again in their mind. This can lead to flashbacks, nightmares, and intrusive thoughts.
The person may also start to avoid anything that reminds them of the trauma, which can make it difficult to function in daily life. This can all lead to a downward spiral of anxiety, depression, and even suicidal thoughts.
There are studies that show the relationship between OCD and PTSD.
5 symptoms of OCD and trauma
- Unwanted, intrusive thoughts that are difficult to control or stop.
- Excessive worry and anxiety about everyday situations.
- Compulsive behaviors or rituals that are performed in an attempt to ease anxiety or prevent certain thoughts from occurring.
- Avoidance of certain people, places, or things that trigger memories or thoughts of the trauma.
- flashbacks or intrusive memories of the trauma that can occur at any time.
Studies about PTSD and OCD define recovery as strongly related to thinking and rituals: “effective treatment of trauma-related OCD is defined as the reduction in obsessional thoughts and compulsory rituals“.
The good news is that there are treatments available that can help you recover and heal. One of these treatments is called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
CBT is a type of therapy that helps you change the way you think about and react to your experiences. It can be used to treat a wide variety of mental health conditions, including trauma.
Here are some of the ways that CBT can help you recover from trauma:
- It can help you understand your reactions.
CBT can help you understand why you’re feeling the way you are. It can also help you see that your reactions are normal and that they don’t have to control your life.
- It can help you change the way you think about your experience.
CBT can help you challenge the negative thoughts and beliefs that you have about your experience. It can help you see that your experience is not who you are.
- It can help you change the way you react to your experience.
CBT can help you learn new ways of coping with your experience. It can help you deal with your emotions in a healthy way.
- It can help you connect with others.
CBT can help you build supportive relationships with others. These relationships can provide you with the social support you need to heal.
- It can help you take care of yourself.
CBT can help you develop healthy coping skills. These skills can help you take care of yourself physically and emotionally.
If you or someone you know is struggling with OCD, PTSD or a combination of the two, it’s important to seek professional help.