Please note: The information on this page should not be construed as medical advice, nor should it be used to diagnose or treat any condition. The content on this page is written by recovered OCD sufferers, not by clinicians. Read More
A comprehensive guide on Hit and Run OCD: What it is, what causes it, and how to treat it.
If you can’t let go of your intrusive thoughts when driving, you are not alone; there is a name for it. It’s called OCD, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Around 2% of the population suffers from OCD, making it one of the most common mental disorders.
So what is Hit and run OCD, what causes it and how can you cope?
ERP therapy and medication are the two most commonly used treatments for Hit and Run OCD; sadly, only 35 to 40% seek treatment, and less than 10% receive evidence-based OCD treatment (exposure and response prevention).
Is Hit and Run OCD genuine?
If you have Hit and Run OCD, you have unwanted intrusive thoughts on causing harm to you or others.It could be anything from killing someone in a car accident to simply being unable to control the vehicle on the road.
There is a constant battle in your head, “what if I hit that pedestrian? Maybe I did and just didn’t notice it”. It’s important to understand that this is a genuine disorder and can have devastating effects on life.
What is obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
You may have heard people say they are “so OCD” as a joke, but in reality, it’s not a laughing matter. Obsessive-compulsive disorder, also called doubting disease, is a debilitating anxiety disorder. That can give the sufferer extreme anxiety and distress that can lead to a chronic state of anxiety.
If you suffer from this disorder, you constantly deal with unwanted disturbing or embarrassing thoughts, images, or urges that invade your mind.
The intrusive thought goes against the person’s beliefs or moral values; that’s why the thought can create this state of extreme anxiety and delusion.
The problem comes when you try to get rid of the thought or make it go away through rituals like checking, counting, or avoidance.
These rituals offer only temporary relief and can become very time-consuming and highly interfere with your daily life.
What is Hit and Run OCD
Have you ever had an intrusive thought when driving, and the thought won’t just go away?And the more you try to get rid of it, the stronger it becomes?Does it come with intense feelings of uncertainty about whether something bad will happen or has already happed?
It has a name; it’s called Hit and Run OCD. It is a type of OCD that involves unwanted thoughts, images, or urges causing harm to yourself or others.
Effective treatment for Hit and Run OCD
Fortunately, there are effective treatments available like Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).It focuses on changing behavior and thinking patterns. It can help you learn how to manage your thoughts and develop coping skills.
One of the most effective CBT treatments is exposure and response prevention therapy (ERP). This treatment involves exposing you to situations that make your OCD worse while teaching you how to avoid performing compulsions.
For example, if someone with Hit and Run OCD compulsively checks their rear-view mirror all the time when driving, the therapist would place them in that situation and ask them not to check.
The idea behind this treatment is to train you how to deal with intrusive thoughts without performing any actions or compulsions.While ERP may sound a bit extreme at first, it’s very effective for treating Hit and Run OCD.
Acceptance (ACT) is also a popular treatment for Hit and Run OCD, which involves accepting your thoughts and feelings instead of trying to fight them. Medication may also be prescribed to help control your OCD symptoms.
Some find relief from taking antidepressants, while others benefit from a small dose of antipsychotic drugs. There are several treatments available for OCD, so don’t hesitate to reach out for help. With the proper treatment and support, you can learn not to let OCD control your life.
The importance of having a good OCD therapist
The sad truth is that less than 10% of OCD sufferers receive evidence-based treatment (exposure and response prevention).You’ll need an OCD therapist who understands the condition and knows how to treat it to get better.
Not all therapists are familiar with OCD and how exposure and response prevention works, so it’s essential to research before choosing one.Look for a therapist who has experience treating OCD and specializing in cognitive-behavioral therapy.
Talking to a therapist that doesn’t understand OCD can be frustrating and unhelpful; it can even be damaging. Don’t hesitate to ask for help. With the proper treatment and the right support from your therapist, family, and friends, you can take back your life and start living your life to the fullest.
If the above OCD treatments are not working for you, the first step is to determine if you are correctly adopting the treatments (CBT). If you are, it could be a sign that you have treatment-resistant OCD, which means that the treatments are not effective in relieving your symptoms.
Studies indicate that between 40-60 % who suffer from OCD do not respond adequately when treated with first-line treatments, which means they remain untreated and continue experiencing symptoms.
Treatment-resistant OCD can be a living hell for those who suffer from it. “Some suggest that the level of functioning in someone with treatment-resistant OCD is about on par with schizophrenia,”
If you have treatment-resistant OCD, there are still options available to you. Some people find relief from taking higher doses of medication, while others may benefit from different types of medication.
In some cases, a combination treatment approach — using medications in conjunction with CBT — can effectively relieve symptoms. TMS is an inspiring new way to treat OCD because it’s non-invasive and doesn’t rely on medications.
Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is another option for those with severe OCD symptoms.DBS works like a pacemaker for the brain, sending electrical pulses to specific areas that are overactive in OCD.
Again, if you do not see results from traditional treatments, don’t hesitate to seek out other options.There are several different treatments available for those who suffer from treatment-resistant OCD.Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor if other treatments are available for you.
Symptoms of Hit and Run OCD
You may have an exaggerated sense of responsibility when driving, and you believe that your actions can cause harm to other people or property. As soon you get in the car, these intrusive thoughts will come into your head again and again until they become unbearable.
Common Hit and Run obsessions
A common denominator is that the thoughts are intrusive and unwanted and can cause a great deal of anxiety and distress.
Please note: If you have any of these thoughts, it doesn’t mean that you’re a bad person – it simply means that you’re suffering from OCD.
Common obsessions related to hitting and running and harming innocent people” or causing a car accident are:
-Thoughts about running someone over
-Impulses to cause harm to others
-Worries that you may have already hit someone without realizing it.
-Thoughts about driving the wrong way on a highway
-Fearing that you will lose control of the car and cause an accident
The problem itself is not the thought (everybody has wired, though). The reaction “compulsion” to the thought creates the problem.
Typical Hit and Run compulsions
Compulsions are the actions you do to get rid of unwanted intrusive thoughts. They are usually things like praying, repeating a specific phrase to yourself, or doing something else to keep from having those thoughts.
The problem is that as long as you do compulsions, you won’t be able to confront the fear and get well; some common compulsions are:
-Return multiple times to the scene of “accident,” the place where you had a disturbing thought about hitting someone with your car.
-checking behaviors like looking in the rear mirror compulsively to make sure you have not hit anyone.
-Saying prayers or repeating mantras to yourself compulsively.
These compulsions may provide a temporary sense of relief, but they will not get rid of the thoughts. These thoughts will only become more frequent over time if not treated correctly.
Avoidance Behaviors in Hit and Run OCD
You may also use avoidance to cope with intrusive thoughts “obsessions.” For example, you may start avoiding driving altogether, or you may avoid certain streets or intersections that are associated with your fear.
This type of avoidance will only make your OCD worse in the long run, as it prevents you from facing your fears head-on.
Reassurance seeking in Hit and Run OCD
You may also engage in reassurance-seeking behaviors, such as calling friends/family members to ensure no accidents while driving; sufferers often turn to reassurance seeking to ease the anxiety.
It works like this: You get this uncontrolled high anxiety after an unwanted intrusive thought. “Maybe I hit that child.”
You ask your friend if it is possible to run somebody over without noticing.
The friend’s answer “If we run somebody over with a car, believe me, we would hear it.”
Your reaction is. “Ok, great, that means I am innocent…
An extreme feeling of relief washes over you almost as a high.
It is because your anxiety level just went from 10 to 0 in one second when 10 is a full outburst of panic.
OCD comes in again: What if? If you listen to the what-if voices, you have a problem.
Your mind starts to hesitate, “maybe I hit that child.” You need one more reassurance to feel good again, and the OCD cycle begins.
Reassurance seeking is a compulsion that can be a highly effective way to reduce your anxiety temporarily.
However, compulsions only provide temporary relief and will increase OCD symptoms long-term.
You have probably noticed this if your reassurance-seeking behaviors have escalated over time or if your anxiety seems to come back stronger and more quickly than before.
Reassurance seeking is especially common for Hit and Run OCD because sufferers with this type of disorder often worry about having already caused harm without realizing it.
What causes Hit and Run OCD
There is no definitive answer, as various factors can cause OCD. Some people may be more prone to developing the condition due to genetics or brain chemistry, while others may develop it after experiencing a traumatic event.
Autoimmune disease can also cause OCD symptoms. In the case of autoimmune disease, it’s believed that the immune system attacks healthy cells in the brain, which causes inflammation leading to anxiety and other OCD symptoms.
In that case, treatment with anti-inflammatory medication can be beneficial. The proper treatment can keep the inflammation at bay and hopefully relieve the OCD symptoms. These cases also need exposure and response prevention treatment to get back to everyday life again.
Having an immediate family member with obsessive-compulsive can also increase the risk of developing OCD.
Regardless of the underlying causes, it is essential to remember that you are not alone, and help is available.
The good news, Hit and Run OCD is a treatable disorder. You can learn to manage your symptoms and leave a healthy, happy everyday life.
What can trigger Hit and Run OCD
A trigger may be something that sets off the obsession and will lead to compulsions, such as a car accident that you read about or hear emergency vehicles in the far distance.
Many things can trigger Hit and Run OCD, and one is stress. When you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed, your brain may start to produce more intrusive thoughts than usual. Since intrusive thoughts trigger compulsions, this will lead to an increase in OCD symptoms.
How do you stop OCD thoughts naturally?
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the best way to manage OCD thoughts will vary from person to person.
However, you can do a few things to help manage your thoughts and reduce their severity. Exercise is a great way to reduce stress and anxiety, as it releases endorphins and other “happy hormones” in the brain that can help improve your mood.
Practice relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation, which can help you calm down and focus on the present moment.
Some people find that mindfulness meditation can help manage OCD thoughts. It involves paying attention to your thoughts and feelings without judgment, which can help you become more aware of them.
There’s no easy way to get rid of intrusive OCD thoughts, but there are certain things you can do to make them more manageable. If your thoughts become too overwhelming, don’t hesitate to reach out for help.
How dysfunctional beliefs come into play
OCD thoughts tend to be followed by exaggerated and dysfunctional beliefs about the world, self, and others.
For example, many with OCD start to believe that they are terrible and will be punished for their thoughts.
These beliefs are often called “cognitive distortions” because they distort your thoughts and perceptions in a way that’s not accurate or healthy.
Learning how to identify and challenge these distortions can help manage OCD. It’s important to remember that intrusive OCD thoughts are just that- thoughts.
They don’t reflect reality, and they don’t define who you are as a person. You can still be a good person even if you have intrusive thoughts.
Misconceptions about OCD
There are a lot of misconceptions about OCD, and one of the biggest is that it’s just a “little quirk” or personality trait.
It couldn’t be further from the truth- OCD can be a severe mental disorder that can cause a great deal of distress and impairment in your life. Another common misconception about OCD is that people like to be clean or organized.
While it’s true that some people who have OCD are neat freaks, this isn’t always the case. Some people with OCD may have very messy and disorganized homes. Another misconception is that all OCD rituals are visible.
It isn’t always the case- many with OCD engage in covert rituals, which means their compulsions are hidden or done privately. The bottom line is that OCD is a complex disorder that can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, or background.
Other OCD themes
Many who suffer from Hit and Run OCD also have some form of other OCD themes like magical thinking and counting OCD. For example, someone with Hit and Run OCD may also have a compulsion to count the number of cars they see while driving, and if not done correctly, something awful will happen.
Another person may have problems being around knives because of fear of harming another person. It’s important to note that other OCD themes don’t just go away because you treat the Hit and Run OCD. They can persist even after you’ve overcome hit-and-run symptoms.
By addressing all of your OCD symptoms, you can get the proper treatment you need to start living a healthier everyday life.
Support groups for OCD
One great way to get started is by joining a support group. There are many OCD groups available, locally or online. They can be a great way to connect with other people who understand what you’re going through; I will leave some links here:
You can also find helpful resources in books, other websites, and apps.
There is hope for Hit and Run OCD sufferers!
If you’re struggling with intrusive OCD thoughts when driving. You’re not alone, and you should not suffer in silence- an OCD specialist knows what you are going through and can help you get the right tools you need to overcome your OCD.
Sadly, there’s no easy way to get rid of intrusive OCD thoughts, but with the proper treatment, you can learn to live with them and keep them from taking over your life.
When treatment is successful, people with Hit and run OCD often find that their thoughts become less intrusive and more manageable over time; for some, it may eventually go away entirely.
I wish you the best of luck in your recovery journey. It is not easy, but it’s worth it. Remember to stay positive and don’t give up on yourself. You’re stronger than you think!
There is hope for those suffering from Hit and run OCD!
Hi, my name is Ted Robinson, and I am recovering from Hit and run OCD.
I know what a burden intrusive thoughts can be, and I’ve been there myself.
The most challenging part about having OCD is getting stuck in an OCD cycle for long periods.
The problem with this type of OCD is that it’s never really “over,” and you’re always waiting for the other shoe to drop; it may make you feel like a prisoner of your mind.
If you’re struggling with intrusive OCD thoughts when driving, I understand what it’s like to live with this awful cycle of “Hit and Run” OCD. Remember to stay positive and don’t give up on yourself. You’re stronger than you think! It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.
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Hi, I’m Ted Robinson. I have been undergoing CBT treatment with great success for the past year. I hope to give hope to other people struggling with mental health issues by telling them about my experience. Read my OCD story.