• October 10, 2017
  • OCD

When You Can’t Stop Thinking About Your Breathing | Orlando OCD Therapist Shares Information 
Specialized Therapy For OCD In Orlando 

 

Imagine for a moment that, for some reason, you become aware of your breathing. You begin to wonder if you’re breathing right. You become anxious and feel like you have to take each breath consciously and become fixated on your breathing. Every waking moment, you are aware of your breathing. You worry that you aren’t taking in enough oxygen or that you might just stop breathing entirely or maybe you’re permanently damaging your lungs. You visit your doctor, who assures you that you’re breathing just fine and tells you to stop thinking about it, which only makes you think about it more. You begin to get even more anxious and start to think, “What if I can never stop thinking about my breathing? What if all this thinking about my breathing ruins my life?”

Sensorimotor obsessions are a little known sub-type of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) that consist of a preoccupation or intense awareness of an automatic bodily function or distinct physical sensation. This type of OCD is often misdiagnosed as medical professionals and psychologists struggle identifying the core issue of the problem. Often sensorimotor OCD is considered a “Pure-O” type of OCD because the OCD sufferer has obsessions without engaging in any compulsions that are observable. This does not mean that the individual does not engage in compulsions, it only means that the compulsions are covert.

Sensorimotor obsessions fall into two categories that become obsessional:

Automatic Bodily Functions

  • Breathing
  • Blinking
  • Heartbeat or pulse
  • Sound of heartbeat
  • Swallowing
  • Sound of swallowing
  • Eye contact
  • Eye floaters
  • Eye twitches
  • Eye movements

Awareness of Symptoms of Physical Sensations

  • Non-reality feelings
  • Dizziness
  • Sensations in stomach, intestines or bowels
  • Bladder fullness
  • Dryness of eyes or mouth
  • Coughing
  • Nausea
  • Heartburn
  • Aches in a body part
  • Muscle tremor
  • Urge to burp

When the OCD sufferer first becomes hyperaware of these symptoms, the individual will likely interpret the sensation as dangerous, for example, ‘the dizziness I’m feeling must mean I have a brain tumor’ or ‘what if I am never able to stop noticing my blinking’. These thoughts cause a strong feeling of anxiety, which in turn, make the OCD sufferer focus on the uncomfortable sensations even more and the vicious cycle begins.

Sensorimotor obsessions often have a negative impact on a person’s daily level of functioning that can range from being annoyed and frustrated to totally debilitating. These types of obsessions can lead to an avoidance of social activities and can even lead to being unable to work. As with many types of OCD, depression often co-occurs. At GroundWork Counseling, our Orlando therapists specialize in treating OCD in children and adults utilize a specific type of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) called Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) to treat sensorimotor OCD as well as other sub-types of OCD.
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