Dealing with OCD on Vacation

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For those with obsessive-compulsive disorder, vacations mean either an improvement in symptoms or the prospect of them being worse. Several things can determine which reaction the person with OCD will have, including what type of vacation and how stressful the "fun getaway" really is.

For many with OCD, the stress of travel, change in routine, and loss of control can trigger symptoms. Learning to anticipate and head off some of the stresses you're likely to encounter will add the extra control you need to mitigate some of the OCD-related stress you might experience.

Assuming that the vacation's timing is good - the OCD sufferer isn't undergoing new therapies, changes in medications, etc. - the rest is a matter of considering your options and your needs, and then choosing the best ones and providing for them.

Talk With Your Mental Health Provider

Before you schedule or leave on your vacation, talk with a mental health professional about the trip. Sit down beforehand and make a list of potential stresses involved, and then talk them over so that you can work together to resolve as many of them as possible before you go.

Perhaps you're worried about the change in climate and the way certain aspects of travel might affect your OCD symptoms—confinement, being in close proximity to others, the often random and intense social interactions, etc.

Simple Tips That Can Help

Bring plenty of your medications with you - enough for a few days more than your travel time requires, just in case. Also, carry them with you if you can, rather than leaving them in luggage that could be lost.

Be sure that the people you're traveling with are well aware and sympathetic to your OCD. The added stress of someone who doesn't understand the disorder is not going to help.

Add a day or two of "empty" time at home after you return so that you can relax in your best environment and recover from the stresses of vacation.

Don't drink too much and, of course, avoid recreational drugs. Not only can these substances interfere with your meds, but they can also trigger symptoms or cause sleep loss that leads to more physical stress.

Have a Good Time

Whatever you do, be sure that your vacation is doing what it's supposed to do: giving you a change and some relaxation from your normal routine. It's a chance to unwind, so take it.

 
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