How Rumination Can Fuel the OCD Cycle

One form of compulsive thought that is prevalent in many OCD disorders is rumination. Therapy might assist you in learning to interrupt the cycle of excessive ruminating if it is beginning to cause stress in your life.

Have you ever had the experience of having a negative idea and then realising that it has quickly grown into a sea of negative thoughts from which you are unable to escape? We've all engaged in what psychologists refer to as rumination at some point in our lives.

Rumination is a kind of recurrent thought that focuses on unfavourable attitudes towards the past, present, and future. Numerous mental health disorders, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), are characterised by rumination. It may become a compulsion in OCD.

We'll go into more detail regarding ruminating in OCD below, covering its symptoms, causes, and management options.

What does OCD rumination feel like?

When someone ruminates, they get caught up in a vicious loop of depressing and unfavourable ideas about the past, the present, and the future. Rumination can frequently make it difficult to think clearly or take action.

Rumination, however, can become a crucial symptom for OCD sufferers, and here is why it happens.

Obsessions and compulsions are the two main symptoms that OCD sufferers encounter. Anxiety and anguish are caused by intrusive thoughts, desires, and sensations that are referred to as obsessions. Compulsions are actions taken in an attempt to lessen the tension that is brought on by obsessions.

OCD sufferers frequently obsess about their obsessions, which can take many different forms depending on what they are obsessed with. For instance, a person suffering from existential OCD may obsess over upsetting philosophical or existential ideas and queries.

Some OCD sufferers go so far as to develop rumination OCD, a condition in which their intrusive obsessions are linked to the ruminating process.

Every OCD subtype has the potential for rumination. In cases of OCD, it is regarded as a compulsion. To counteract their obsessions or find a method to feel better, people with OCD may ruminate for hours on end.

Is OCD rumination the same as overthinking?

Overanalyzing is a perfectly normal human behaviour, particularly in times of stress, anxiety, or fear. For instance, you might second-guess your choice of typeface for your important work slideshow presentation or your entire ensemble before a first date.

Rumination in OCD, however, differs from overthinking in these circumstances because it's a compulsive behaviour that sufferers frequently find difficult to break. OCD rumination can get so bad that it interferes with a person's ability to function normally in daily life.

Examples of OCD rumination

OCD obsessions usually have recurring themes that dictate the type of intrusive ideas you may find yourself thinking about. Among the most prevalent OCD fixations are the following:
  • contamination
  • checking
  • sexual
  • existential
  • somatic
  • harm
  • perfectionism
  • relationship
Any theme can be the subject of ruminating as a compulsion, and individuals with OCD frequently try to ruminate their way out of these obsessions and the upsetting emotions they generate.

Someone suffering from contamination OCD, for instance, could obsess over everything they touched that day or how to keep contaminating objects in the future. Alternatively, a person suffering from damage OCD may obsess over whether they have ever unintentionally hurt someone for hours on end.

Other mental behaviours that can be indicative of OCD rumination include:
  • making and going over mental checklists
  • examining prior encounters and actions
  • revisiting their feelings and ideas from the past
  • pondering the same subjects repeatedly
  • trying to address the anxiety or obsessions

Is rumination an ADHD or OCD symptom?

Not only is rumination a sign of OCD, but it has also been connected to an exacerbation of symptoms in other mental health disorders, including anxiety, sadness, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Researchers examined the connection between mental behaviours such as rumination and mind-wandering and ADHD in a 2020 study. The study's findings indicated a connection between various forms of rumination and symptoms of ADHD.

What causes or triggers rumination in OCD?

Anything that intensifies OCD symptoms is considered an OCD trigger. When it comes to OCD rumination, everything that intensifies obsessions can also intensify the ruminating need.

OCD is a vicious cycle in which compulsions are brought on by obsessions and provide momentary respite until the obsessions are triggered by something else. Therefore, even though ruminating about their intrusive thoughts can help people with OCD feel better, the respite is fleeting because the cycle will soon resume.

Coping mechanisms and treatment options for rumination OCD

Realising that OCD rumination is a compulsion and that obsessing about your obsessions won't make them go away is one of the most crucial steps in treating it. Rather, it perpetuates the vicious cycle of compulsions and obsessions.

Recognising your rumination is the next step after learning why it can exacerbate your symptoms. You can try your best to stop or modify the behaviour once you are aware that you are ruminating.

It's crucial to focus on treating your OCD using medicine and therapy that are supported by research:
  • Therapy: The best kind of treatment for OCD symptoms like ruminating is exposure and response prevention, or ERP. By teaching you to confront your obsessions and triggers, ERP can help you stop using compulsive behaviours like rumination as a coping mechanism for worry.
  • Medications: Another useful treatment for OCD symptoms is medication, particularly when combined with counselling. Tricyclic antidepressants and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are two often recommended drugs that can lessen OCD symptoms.
There is assistance available if your persistent rumination has made it tough for you to break free from the OCD cycle. To find out what therapy choices are available to you, think about contacting your therapist or doctor.


Rumination is a typical compulsion in individuals with OCD and is a characteristic of many different mental health problems.

While rumination may temporarily alleviate symptoms of OCD, over time it gets more difficult to quit, which exacerbates worry and discomfort. However, with the correct care, OCD sufferers can manage their everyday lives more effectively and experience a reduction in symptoms like rumination.

Post a Comment