Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is much more than someone being “anal” — and quite different from compulsive neatness.
OCD is a serious anxiety disorder that’s often very distressing and even disabling for some.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is recognized today as a medical disorder of the brain. OCD is likely to have a genetic lineage, and is probably influenced by serotonin levels in the brain. It’s important to understand the two major problems that make comprise OCD:
- Obsessions. Intrusive, involuntary, ruminating thoughts that are either irrational or highly exaggerated worries or fears. The fears tend to cluster around contamination, safety, or harming others. Examples include frequent, disturbing thoughts about the need to wash hands or clean objects; anxious uncertainty about locking doors and windows, and unplugging electrical appliances in the home; or the belief that you’ve harmed or will harm someone.
- Compulsions. Behaviors and rituals that are performed to prevent or “undo” the obsessive thoughts or beliefs. For example, frequent, unnecessary hand washing; “checking” behavior, such as locks and electrical plugs; or counting behavior, such as excessive calculations of one’s bank balance. Extreme hoarding behavior is also considered to be a type of OCD. Hoarders often fear that something bad will happen if they throw things away.
People with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder almost always know that their condition is “abnormal.” In fact, they’re often extremely distressed by the obsessions and compulsions. Many people experience only the obsessive thoughts. The thoughts often seem “crazy”, but OCD is very different from psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia or paranoia.
OCD is a treatable condition, and professional help is usually necessary.
Two specific treatments are supported by the clinical and medical research to effectively treat Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT). The behavioral therapy for OCD is called exposure and response prevention. This therapy involves repeated exposure to the object or source of the obsessive thoughts, and a strategy of not responding to the exposure. For example, this might include touching the sole of your shoe and not washing your hands for some pre-determined period of time. Exposure and response prevention is often accompanied by breathing and other relaxation exercises designed to reduce or limit anxiety. The cognitive component of CBT involves learning a new way to respond to the obsessive thoughts — by changing, or “restructuring” these anxious or fearful thoughts.
- Medication. Anti-depressant medications – most often, one of the SSRI’s (Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors) – are often effective in reducing the symptoms of OCD. Medication alone is generally not an effective treatment for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. The combination of medication and CBT is the most effective treatment for OCD.
We have the training and experience to effectively treat OCD.
The clinical team at the Relationship Center of South Florida has successfully treated countless people with OCD — and their families. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with one of our OCD specialists or psychiatrists.