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2 Minutes Read

What Is Existential OCD?

Existential OCD is a type of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) that involves intrusive and repetitive thoughts about philosophical questions, such as the meaning of life, the nature of reality, and ideas about life and death. These thoughts can be very distressing and can interfere with daily life.

People with existential OCD may obsess over questions such as:

  • What is the meaning of life?
  • What happens after we die?
  • Is there a God?
  • What is the nature of reality?
  • What is the purpose of my existence?

They may also have compulsions to try to answer these questions, such as:

  • Researching these topics online or in books
  • Talking to philosophers or religious leaders about these topics
  • Engaging in repetitive mental rituals, such as trying to visualize the universe or to imagine what it would be like to be dead

Existential OCD can be a very debilitating condition, and it can lead to anxiety, depression, and social isolation. 

How to treat existential OCD

The most effective treatment for existential OCD is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) called exposure and response prevention (ERP). ERP involves gradually exposing yourself to your obsessions and resisting the urge to engage in compulsions. Over time, this can help you to learn that your obsessions are not dangerous and that you can tolerate them without having to perform compulsions.

In addition to ERP, there are a number of other things that you can do to cope with existential OCD, such as:

Educate yourself about existential OCD

The more you understand about existential OCD, the better equipped you will be to cope with it. There are a number of books and articles available on existential OCD.

Join a support group

Talking to other people who have existential OCD can be very helpful. There are a number of online and in-person support groups available.

Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness can help you to become more aware of your thoughts and feelings, and to accept them without judgment. There are many different types of mindfulness exercises — such as meditation, deep breathing, and yoga. Find a mindfulness practice that works for you and incorporate it into your daily routine.

Take care of yourself

It is important to take care of yourself both physically and emotionally when you are coping with existential OCD. Make sure to get enough sleep, eat healthy foods, and exercise regularly. You may also want to consider talking to a therapist about other ways to manage your stress and anxiety.

Healing from existential OCD takes time and effort, but it is possible. If you are experiencing existential OCD and don’t know how to navigate this, a therapist can help you learn to cope with your obsessions and provide you with the mechanisms to live a fulfilling life. Our therapists at Salt River Therapy are ready to help — click the button below to schedule a free phone consultation.


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