OCD Triggered by Anxiety

by Dr. R.E. Freedman

Many who struggle with anxiety also experience minor symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder. There is a valid explanation for this and ways to resolve this intrusive behavior. When overwhelmed with anxiety symptoms, without a strong coping method for relief, many experience a true frustration, leading to a lack of control. They find they covet control and loss of this plagues them on a daily basis.

When one feels a loss of something as important as control, due to the intrusion of anxiety symptoms, they compensate by creating their own sense of control to replace the feeling that is sorely lost. This is where this new behavior enters the picture.

One begins to make new rules, ones they can govern over, that will keep them in charge. OCD is basically the rules one creates which allow them a true sense of control over a situation. They may have lost control in one area (anxiety) but regain it through their rules of OCD. This is basically a bad trade off as OCD is equally as stifling as anxiety, if not more so. A better choice would be to effectively reconcile the anxiety disorder and move forward.

Unfortunately, the compulsions/tasks created by this new mindset only provide temporarily relief. One believes the obsessions, which steer one into performing compulsions, provide them with a sense of control in their lives. It even feels true in the beginning as long as one completes the task. The truth of the matter is that this sense of control is not long lasting.

After a while the compulsions take on a life of their own, becoming a full time job. The sense of control is lost rather than gained because performing the compulsions no longer bring long term relief and one compulsion quickly follows another, resulting in greater rather than less anxiety. One’s belief that relief comes from performing the compulsion is no longer valid. Relief is short term and only pulls one deeper into OCD. One’s belief system holds tight, convinced that performing the compulsion is the only way out, but in truth, the opposite is the case. Resisting would have been the better path taken as this is the way out. A total break from compulsive tasks is the way to permanent relief.

At this point in time, one comes to the realization they are experiencing a greater loss of control, stronger anxiety and basically unwilling to remain in the loop of OCD. They realize a new approach must be attempted in order to turn this full time job around.


– CHOICE: In order to solve this intrusive disorder, one must realize that there is a CHOICE. It might feel as if one is compelled to act out the compulsion, in response to the obsessive thought, but there is always the CHOICE of making “new rules” concerning this behavior. One always has the power to change these rules anytime they choose. This is about one’s own rules and how they’ve followed them over and over again until they became the behavior they are now experiencing. This is why it is a “learned behavior.” All one has to do is make up their mind that the rules will change. New rules will be decided upon that fit your lifestyle in a healthier way. All you need to do is practice the new rule by resisting or breaking with the older one. This is true control. The rules have merely changed to make life more comfortable.

– UNDERSTANDING: Understand that you are only seeking control over life and learning to interrupt the anxiety is a far greater form of control. Learn how to stop the initial cause of the OCD, your anxiety symptoms, and the OCD is no longer a necessary distraction.

– LOCATE EMOTIONS: Tap into your true emotions. Locate how you really feel and focus on the emotion that might be painful to examine. Are you sad, angry, mad, frightened or concerned about some situation? OCD is often a useful distraction set into motion by the brain to avoid a painful emotion that plagues one.

– ADDRESS ANXIETY: Allow yourself to feel the emotion of anxiety when you do not perform the compulsion. If you do not add to it with “what if” and other fearful thoughts, it will eventually spend itself and dissolve altogether. Learn how to interrupt these anxiety symptoms and the uncomfortable feelings will disappear altogether. Cardinal rule of anxiety is: what we resist, persists. Therefore, embrace the feeling rather than push it away. This ensures a definite lessening of symptoms and a true sense of control, without the need to perform any compulsion.

– TOTAL BREAK: You will eventually stop noticing the obsessive thoughts which bring forth the need for the compulsions. Let go of all the compulsions at once, like pulling off a band-aid in one feel swoop. This is the best way to ensure success.

– RESIST: Remember, you have a CHOICE and knowledge that this is a paradox. The more you perform the compulsion the stronger the habit becomes. The more you resist the compulsion, the faster you walk away from this behavior.

– DISTRACTION: OCD is the great distraction tool. It’s the brain’s way of blanketing an upsetting emotion or situation by presenting something else to worry about. And it WORKS! When upset with this distracting symptom, there is little room for anything else. It fills the mind completely, overriding any other symptoms or worry. This is why it is essential to locate your true emotion, your true fear, rather than fall into the trap of believing this intrusive behavior, mainly used as a distraction from the true problem.

– ANXIETY CYCLE: It’s essential to understand the Anxiety Cycle when dealing with OCD. When one symptom reconciles itself, another one pops up to take it’s place, often OCD, demanding your attention and creating as much fearful worry as the last symptom. Learn to truly and permanently break the cycle of anxiety by applying the coping skills that obliterate it from your life. Don’t run from anxiety when facing it and going through it correctly is the only path to permanent recovery. Once you eliminate the anxiety, there is no longer a need for OCD behaviors to allow you control. You’ll find your own control along with a true sense of inner strength.

Many who struggle with anxiety find that minor OCD symptoms sometimes sneak in when one feels a lack of control in their lives. Sometimes these symptoms are stronger, other times mild. Always understand that you have more control over this than you may know. Use your knowledge to prove to yourself that you can resist all compulsions and the anxiety that may surface will always dissipate when you approach it correctly. This will prove to you that you do have more control than you believed and will ensure a permanent recovery from these intrusive symptoms.

For further information concerning OCD and the Anxiety Condition, feel free to contact us for a complimentary phone evaluation at 215-635-4700. Office Hours: 10:00 AM – 10:00 PM (EST). We welcome your calls and will be glad to speak with you.

Anxiety Busters, Inc.

Anxiety Busters
Office Phone: 215-635-4700
Office Hours: 10:00 AM – 10:00 PM (EST)

Previous post:

Next post: