Somatic OCD: A Subtype Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Condition
Let’s talk about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
This will help you understand somatic OCD.
First, regardless of the type of OCD (which may present in different ways, and inconsistently), three things remain the same: (1) Obsessions, (2) compulsions, and (3) self-doubt!
In general, people living with OCD suffer from unwanted thoughts (obsessions) that they can’t seem to get out of their heads. We call these thoughts “intrusive thoughts” or “sticky thoughts.” The unwanted and intrusive thoughts trigger a response to perform ritual-like behaviors or routines (compulsions) in an attempt to ease anxiety symptoms.
People often realize the obsessive thoughts and compulsive rituals are based on irrational fears. However, they find it difficult to stop the pattern.
Common OCD themes include avoiding germs, counting outlets, checking locks, praying, or other rituals to stop intense feelings and mental images.
People will often feel stuck in self-doubt. Like they’ve made a mistake or will make a decision that will cause harm to themselves or others. Common intrusive thoughts may involve themes about morality, accidentally harming someone, health/safety, sexual orientation, being with the wrong partner, being defective, harming a child, or failing.
Like all anxiety conditions, it isn’t uncommon for a person struggling with OCD to have another anxiety disorder. Anxiety conditions like traveling together.
We work with people suffering with
What is Somatic OCD?
Somatic OCD or “sensory obsessions” is a subset of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in which people hyper-focus or feel distracted by neutral physical stimuli, such as – blinking and fear that they would never be able to stop noticing their blinking. Or, monitoring their tongue moving or heart beating. It’s body-focused in nature.
We provide counseling for people struggling with this particular concern, in addition to OCD. It’s often a neglected subgroup of OCD. Sadly, many people do not seek help with these distressing preoccupations.
- A focus on automatic body processes or sensations.
- A body function that one can selectively pay attention to or not. An automatic body process, with a fear of shifting focus away from the process.
- Difficulty shifting focus away and trusting the body to take over automatically.
- Examples include breathing, blinking, swallowing, salivation, tongue placement, pulse/heartbeat, eye contact, eye floater, eye dryness, awareness of nose, or awareness of a body part as odd such as hands and feet.
- A fear that the sensory focus will last forever or they will be trapped in an unending cycle.
- Hyper-awareness causes a high level of anxiety and distress.
How is it different from other subtypes of OCD?
- Sensory or sensorimotor obsessions usually do not involve fears of self-harm or harming others.
- Focus is mainly on automatic body functions or failure of a function to return to a previously (unmonitored) state.
- Body-focused OCD is very specific and clear to identify due to sensory hyper-awareness.
What is it like to live with this type of OCD?
OCD, in general, is a very painful condition. Modern culture often inappropriately paints the picture of OCD as comical and quirky. This portrait is far from the truth. People living with OCD experience a lot of emotional pain and tension when stuck in the obsessive-compulsive cycle.
If a person is struggling with somatic or “sensorimotor” OCD, they may find it difficult to focus on anything else at times – impacting work, socializing, and the ability to enjoy life.
Even mild-severity OCD can interfere with a person’s daily routine, academic life, job, relationships, or social interactions.
Getting proper treatment, Exposure Response Prevention Therapy with CBT is highly recommended for symptom relief.
If you’re experiencing other OCD concerns without bodily OCD, please email us and we can recommend an OCD provider in the Fargo-Moorhead area. Like anxiety care, OCD is a specialized area of care and you should be working with a trained professional.
If you’d like more information, we recommend visiting the Internation OCD association website at https://iocdf.org.