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Overcoming Scrupulosity OCD and Fear of Going to Hell: A Guide for Patients

If you suffer from scrupulosity or religious OCD, you know how torturous it can be to live with the constant fear of going to hell. These intrusive thoughts can consume your life and make every day extremely difficult. You may feel guilty for these thoughts, and compulsions actions such as constant prayer, confession and apologizing can overtake your days.

What is Scrupulosity OCD and Why is it So Distressing?

Scrupulosity OCD is a subtype of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) that’s characterized by intrusive, distressing religious or moral thoughts. It can also involve rituals or compulsions that are aimed at reducing the anxiety caused by these thoughts. such as prayer, confession, and analyzing ones own thoughts. People with this type of OCD are often plagued by the fear of sinning or doing something that goes against their religious beliefs. They may pray excessively, perform religious rituals repeatedly, or engage in self-punishing behaviors to try to alleviate their anxiety.

The distress caused by scrupulosity OCD can be very intense and distressing, leading to depression, isolation, and even suicidal thoughts. It can feel like a never-ending cycle of guilt and shame, with no escape.

How to Overcome Scrupulosity OCD

The good news is that scrupulosity OCD can be treated. The most effective treatment is specific type of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), called exposure and response prevention (ERP).  ERP is a specific type of CBT that’s used to treat OCD, it involves gradually exposing the person with OCD to their feared stimuli and learning to resist engaging in compulsive behaviors. ERP has been found to be particularly effective for individuals suffering from scrupulosity OCD, which includes intrusive religious thoughts or fears of going to hell.

Therapy for Scrupulosity OCD & The Right Therapy

During therapy, the individual works with their OCD therapist to identify situations that trigger OC symptoms and then creates an exposure hierarchy based on level of distress. The individual will then practice resisting the urge to perform compulsions, such as praying or seeking reassurance, in response to these triggers. Its important to work with a specifically trained and specializes therapists when addressing scrupulosity OCD; as its important to note that less than 1% of mental health professionals in the country have adequate training to property diagnose, and treat OCD, however, many advertise they treat OCD without these qualifications. Although well meaning therapists attempt to treat OCD, without the proper training, they can inadvertently cause harm.

Living with the fear of going to hell can be a tormenting experience, but it doesn’t have to be. With the right treatment and support, you can overcome scrupulosity OCD and learn to live a fulfilling life free of anxiety and guilt. The key is to reach out for help and not suffer in silence. Remember, there is no shame in seeking treatment. At GroundWork, our team of specialized anxiety and OCD therapists are here to help you overcome these fears and get back to living.

Learn more about scrupulosity via the International OCD Foundation here


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