973741 tn?1342342773

OCD, Intrusive/obsessive thought

My son has been diagnosed with OCD (and other things) and part of his OCD is intrusive thoughts/obsessive thoughts. And he has a compulsion to reassure which take the form of questioning me (and others) over and over, resolves the thought, still will ask or researching over and over himself.  He has existential OCD as well as other intrusive thoughts. His intrusive thoughts when very strong can begin to have him spiral into depression.  We're working on medication which he currently takes but this is OCD obsessive thought is wreaking havoc. His psychologist things ERP therapy may help him as he will desensitize to his thoughts if he is exposed to them. Puts me in a quandary. The ERP therapy is intensive and will have to look into when we can start that.  His psychologist doesn't specialize in it but is working a little bit on it until we can find our next step. He does well with cbt/dbt therapy and he is FULLY aware that his current vicious circle of thoughts are related to his OCD. It's comforting to him in his own right to know this as he can label it. Gives it less control. But my quandary is that I do a lot of reassuring.  Using logic, answering his questions.  I'm now aware that this is part of the problem. but it does calm him down.  I'm trying to pull back some and am using different wording. But I don't want to create a spiral before bed, for example, when a lot of the questioning begins. I'm also not a therapist.  So, am treading very lightly.  Thoughts on this type of thing?  It's challenging to say the least.  
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Avatar universal
I also have OCD, not in the same level as your son. Reassuring/remembering/checking/etc is a part of it. He has to try to stop the reassuring, because that's what feeds OCD. Easier said than done, I know. But with time, the relief will last longer and longer, and the anxiety will decrease faster. Reassuring/etc gives the person a quick relief, but in the long term it's useless. The more you postpone/cancel the compulsions, the more you'll feel fine (in the long term)
Helpful - 1
This is so hard as my son begins to drift to depression and his depression is what scares me.  Have you gone through ERP therapy? I think my son will hate it, lol.  But if it helps him live with the obsessive thinking and desensitize so it doesn't affect him as much, that WOULD be worth the pain going through it.  I'm trying to pull back the reassurance.  So hard though as it does work. He also works things out for himself. His logical voice can prevail but yes, the triggering obsessive thought returns.  This is all really hard. He's a senior and looking at college next year which does make him motivated to overcome things. But he's so fragile from the depression he's also suffered (hospital for almost a month late last spring) that I have to really squelch my own anxiety right now about all of this.  What was ERP like for you?  
I've never treated my OCD the way I should (I know, I know). OCD specialized therapy is a problem where I live. But it doesn't affect me all the time, so most of the time I'm ok. I've learned to manage it alone, which is kind of problematic sometimes, but better than nothing.

Look for Katie D'ath on YouTube. She is an OCD specialized therapist. Her videos are a great source of information, and they've helped me a lot. Try to watch them with your son.
I'll check them out.  Have you ever heard of the NOCD app?  I heard about it from a couple of people.  I was reading the things they do for this type of ocd and it's a little rough. Example, record yourself saying the thought that is troubling and listening to it several times a day.  Telling yourself the thought is right and writing about it.  I keep picturing my teenage son strapped in a chair with all his worst fears all around him like in a horror movie!  But frankly, I'm ready to do what we need to in order to get true relief. He shuts down entirely if something is against his thoughts and then ruminates.  Compulsively searching for answers and asking for reassurance.  It's so hard when it amps up and it always leads to depression which leads to suicidal ideation on my son's part.  I'm thinking we are going to have to work on his medication as well.  He takes prozac and buspar and still has a ton of anxiety which is only helped by hydroxyzine.  But he still has the intrusive thoughts. He has them less in the middle of the night right now (knock on wood) so at least there is that and he is better rested.  

I'll check out the videos. thank you
Avatar universal
Okay, Mom, here we go.  You and I have a difference in how much we believe diagnosticians in the mental health field, but remember, I've lived my entire adult life and grown old dealing with them.  Please take this with some thought.  I don't think there's anything wrong with your son incessantly questioning things in and of itself.  Also, OCD doesn't cause anxiety.  Anxiety causes OCD.  As I've said often, every human being has thoughts.  If everything we think a lot about is an obsession, than all life is obsessed and mentally ill.  We really can't live that way.  You can't write a novel without being obsessed -- trust me, I've written 3 plus of them and when you're writing them you think of little else.  Intrusive thoughts are everpresent, they are the ideas that tell you where you're going next.  Where do these thoughts come from?  Where does the notion of writing a novel come from?  Or writing a song?  Or learning your multiplication tables?  Or learning to read?  Or creating a vaccine?  All of this requires what you're calling obsessive thinking, and if we wipe this out from everyone we'll all be walking around unable to feed ourselves.  So the problem isn't created by the thoughts, as we all think all the time.  You can't brush your teeth without obsessing about doing it.  The problem comes when our thoughts change from just who we are to driving us nuts.  Nobody knows why this happens, but it's that underlying drive to go negative on oneself that is the mental illness.  Blaming them on the OCD is what we say, but it's not what's happening, what is happening is we turn all that thinking into a big thing and a horrible thing that if we goof on horrible things will happen.  I think the best thing is to never mention OCD again unless a person is washing his hands a hundred times a day or performing other rituals.  If we apply that term to thinking itself, we make the term meaningless.  Your son has been through a lot, and unfortunately that has taken you along for the ride.  My wife has the same problem with me, except that you actually care and are trying like hell to help him get better and my wife just wants me to shut up about it.  For some reason, and you may never learn why, your son appears for a long time to believe he is being judged quite harshly and has to be perfect or terrible things will happen.  He's had several different diagnoses so far.  I wish I could help you truly diagnose him and find the magic button, but ERP is just CBT.  Different people do CBT differently but basically they all start by teaching you what you're doing with your thinking, how you're distorting the real risk with it, how you're destroying your life by thinking that way even if there is risk (a plane can crash, you can drive off a bridge, but your life is better because you can go cool places if you drive over bridges and fly anyway) and then slowly expose you to the things you've turned into such a nightmare.  Will it work?  Never did for me.  But it does for a whole lot of people, and I think young people do better.  All I know from what you've said on here is that he's had difficulties for a long time given he's had such a short life so far so something isn't wired right in him.  Since we don't understand the brain enough to know what, you have to try whatever you can to get him to rewire.  He needs to know that most people really don't care at all about one another that much to be judging, but maybe somewhere in his life, either at home, in church, at school, from his peers, who knows, he got that impression.  Therapy of whatever kind will try to help him think his way out of it.  My advice is, don't try to change his basic personality, which appears to involve analyzing things.  Focus on the fact it makes him really really unhappy.  If he does that and keeps his active and questioning brain, some day he will make a great lawyer or writer or doctor.  I don't think your son has OCD, only based on your description of him, or else we all do.  I think he has something else going on that has terrified him, probably irrationally.  I've had to live with this for many many years, though I didn't have it when I was young, and then when I stopped the Paxil and had that absurd reaction to it I did eventually get OCD, so I know the difference.  I've lived it.  OCD is horrible.  It makes it really hard to get anywhere with anything because you're wasting so much time on complete nonsensical behavior.  But anxiety and depression are awful too, just in a different way.  My advice, again, is, don't focus on how he thinks.  Focus on how it makes him feel.  Peace, Mom.  Oh, and if he does feel judged, good, if he does it, and nothing bad happens, he will stop feeling that way.  That's how CBD works when it does work.  If you keep avoiding, the anxiety feeds on it and gets fatter and fatter like a tapeworm.  I don't want him to have my life, it's a waste of time.
Helpful - 0
thank you.
973741 tn?1342342773
Also, there are app/online programs for ERP.  There is one specifically that has been mentioned to me by three different people.  My son has said that sometimes he wishes therapy was anonymous so he didn't feel like someone might judge him.  I found that interesting.  
Helpful - 0
Here is a link about this kind of ocd:  https://iocdf.org/expert-opinions/to-be-or-not-to-be-that-is-the-obsession-existential-and-philosophical-ocd/
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