Treatment for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
What is OCD?
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is diagnosed when a person has intrusive, unwanted, anxiety provoking thoughts that are difficult to stop (these are the obsessions) and, because the thoughts or the anxiety they produce are so difficult to stop, the person begins to perform certain actions that seem to bring relief from the thoughts and the anxiety.
Over time the person finds it difficult to stop performing the behaviors (or “compulsions”) that provide relief and these behaviors themselves begin to cause problems. Obsessions and compulsions can take many forms and people are often very ashamed of them. Here are a few common types of obsessions and compulsions.
- Fears and worries about contamination
- Preoccupation with order, symmetry, alignment, things being perfect
- Excessive worry about not being religious enough
- Preoccupation with having a physical defect and worry that others will notice it
- Obsessive questioning of one’s heterosexuality or homosexuality
- Intrusive thoughts or images of sex acts (ex. incestuous, violent, or about children)
- Intrusive thoughts about becoming a person one does not want to be (gay or straight, murderer, thief, pedophile)
- Intrusive racial slurs or other insults
- Intrusive thoughts about being violent or images of violence
- Excessive worries about having a catastrophic illness despite lack of evidence
- Checking one’s body for signs of injury or illness
- Checking for signs of injury in others
- Counting to certain numbers or according to certain rules in one’s head
- Asking people for reassurance (“reassure me that I’m not straight or not gay, that I won’t hurt anyone, that I did everything right…”)
- Checking whether door is locked
- Excessive hand washing, house cleaning
- Pressing light switches a “required”, though unnecessary, number of times
- Tapping a certain number of times
- Testing your sexual orientation by viewing pornography, attending strip clubs, or viewing photos of potentially attractive men or women
OCD Treatment: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT is the most established psychological treatment for OCD and most of the anxiety-related disorders. Patients are taught to face the things they fear at a manageable pace (“exposure”). They also learn healthy coping habits to replace compulsions and other behavior that interfere with recovery (“response prevention”). Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that seeks to alter behavior by identifying the precise factors that trigger the individual and teaching skills to interrupt and redirect responses to those triggers. The primary goal of cognitive behavior therapy is to help people modify the way they think, feel and behave. It teaches a person different ways of thinking, behaving, and reacting to situations that help him or her feel less anxious or fearful without having obsessive thoughts or acting compulsively. The prospect of having to face the thoughts or situations that make you anxious may seem daunting, but we will work up to it gradually so that you can feel ready and safe to face your fears.
Family Consultation for Treatment-Refusers
When a person with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder refuses to seek help, the rest of the family is left to deal with a potentially stressful situation. Fortunately, help is available for these families. I can help you reduce stress and deal more effectively with a treatment-refuser.
I have been providing anxiety treatment programs for over 30 years and can provide relief from the constant fear, panic, and/or worry.
I can be reached at 314-644-3339.
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