Artwork by Rohan Francis

OCD Ruminations: An in-depth view

Medically reviewed by

Written by Kriti Dugar

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a mental health illness that results in unwanted or repetitive thoughts, feelings, or actions. Please know that it can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, region, or occupation. The way it manifests in every individual is also different. 

If you or your loved ones face OCD or any of its symptoms, then know that you are not alone. You can connect with mental health professionals at Cadabams who offer the best ocd treatment in India whenever you want. Our helpline number 9741476476 is available to you 24x7 for the treatment options around you. 

What are OCD Ruminations?

OCD rumination  causes a person to spend an inordinate amount of time thinking, worrying or even overanalyzing specific thoughts or actions. 

The intrusive and repetitive nature of ruminations can be highly distressing to the individual. It usually involves repeating a negative thought or solving an elusive problem like worrying about a future event, replaying a past scenario, or predicting how something will play out. 

For hours and even days, they may try to find answers like a needle getting stuck on an old record while they cope with rumination OCD. 

What is the difference between intrusive thoughts and ruminations?

Intrusive thoughts or obsessions are usually disturbing, and the person often tries to resist them. The thoughts tend to feel ego-dystonic or apart from oneself. One may not feel as if they have a choice in thinking about them. 

On the other hand, ruminations often initially feel interesting or even indulgent. However, ruminations rarely lead to new insights or breakthroughs. The rumination process is that they usually feel more ego-syntonic, like they are part of one's mind; or is their own choice. 

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What are the common symptoms of OCD rumination?

OCD ruminations may differ for each person; however, they often involve particular themes. Some common ruminations include the following:

1. Spending a lot of time reviewing past events and memories

2. Fear of being infected by germs or dirt; or even infecting others unintentionally.

3. Disturbing thoughts of inappropriate sexual activities or violent thoughts and images.

4. Excessive double-checking of items, such as locks, gadgets, and switches, to ensure everything is in order.

5. To constantly check on loved ones to make sure that they're safe.

6. Obsessively thinking about cleanliness and putting a lot of time into washing and cleaning

What is the treatment for OCD ruminations?

A person with OCD usually experiences intrusive thoughts relentlessly which affect their well-being. The more they perseverate on the thoughts, it increases negativity and anxiety. 

People suffering from OCD ruminations can experience significant relief through therapy like any other mental health illness. 

Some common forms of OCD therapy that may be used depending upon the client. Treatment for obsessive compulsive disorder could include:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy 

This psychotherapy provides one the ability to deal with their negative and obsessive thought patterns in a healthier manner. The goal of therapy is for the individual to think, feel positively and constructively. Two approaches are usually used :

Exposure and Response treatment (ERP)

ERP therapy is a process that encourages one to face their anxiety and let thoughts exist without 'neutralizing' them with compulsions. Simply put, the therapist allows the client to deal with the uncertainty associated with the ruminations and stops one from completing those compulsive behaviors. 

The client begins to confront items and situations that cause anxiety, which gradually increases in intensity. Initially, the degree is usually manageable or tolerable by the client. Eventually, with continuous practice, the individual can reduce their anxiety and endure uncomfortable feelings or emotions. This is seen to be one of the best treatment for OCD patients.

Over time, the goal of therapy is that the client feels less likely to ruminate on negative thoughts and even act out on the compulsions. 

Mindfulness-Based Behavioral Therapy (MBBT) 

In this therapeutic intervention, the client is taught that everyone experiences intrusive thoughts. It helps one think about the pattern of thought and identify triggers to understand the source of negative thoughts. 

Gradually with practice, the client believes that the thoughts hold no power over them. Mindfulness therapy may include educational sessions, psychological interventions, breathing techniques, and aerobic yoga. This is a method of OCD treatment at home that is effective. 

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What lifestyle changes can I make to stop ruminating?

Apart from therapy, individuals facing OCD ruminations can incorporate certain basic changes in their lifestyle to improve mental well-being. These include :

Buy a journal

Writing down one's thoughts may sometimes highlight how certain thoughts are repeated unnecessarily and may not even be a matter of concern. Penning down thoughts and emotions can also help feel lighter and more relaxed. 

Challenge OCD thoughts  

One needs to accept that it's a complicated issue and cannot be sorted but instead thinking about it only increases anxiety. A better and more productive way to overcome OCD's intrusive thoughts is to outline a plan of action to analyze the ruminating thoughts, take each step slowly, and feel more at peace. 

Find distractions 

Finding a distraction can break one's thought cycle. Look around and choose something to do, such as call a friend, watch a movie or surround yourself with family members.

Increase self-esteem:  

People ruminate when their self-esteem is questioned or have performed poorly at something very important to them, such as a favorite sport or a significant academic achievement. By expanding one's interests and building new sources of self-esteem, a person can overcome negativity and negative thoughts.

Readjust Your Life Goals 

Unrealistic goals can lead to ruminations> Instead of focusing on achieving goals, one starts thinking about why they haven't accomplished their goals. Setting more realistic goals can reduce the risk of rumination.


To improve mental well-being, one could seek out a quiet space and meditate. It can reduce rumination by clearing one's mind to achieve a calm state. Sit down, breathe deeply for five seconds, and focus on nothing else. This will help the mind to refocus and feel at peace. 

The way forward :

A mental health illness like OCD ruminations can feel permanent and engulfing, but please remember that it is treatable. Professional medical professionals can help people regain control over their thoughts, detect signs of rumination, and choose healthier thought processes. The goal is to ensure improved mental well-being and happier selves.  Cadabams offers the best ocd treatment centers for individuals who are fighting the disorder. 

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