Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) involves intrusive thoughts and a pattern of obsessions that drive a person to compulsively repetitive actions. The behaviors disrupt the individual’s daily life and can cause deep distress. A person struggling with OCD can try ignoring the obsessive thoughts, but that just compounds the distress. He or she feels compelled to do actions in an effort to ease the sense of anxiety. Efforts to overcome the troublesome intrusive thoughts or compulsions keep returning, which leads to continuing the ritualistic behaviors. The victim is trapped in the vicious circle of OCD.
Click to jump to section:
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Symptoms
- OCD Causes
- When to See a Doctor for OCD?
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Treatment
- Additional OCD Treatment Options
- OCD Treatment at Pathways Real Life Recovery, Utah
If you have been struggling with OCD on your own, you may be frustrated and discouraged, but appropriate treatment can often be effective.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Symptoms
OCD symptoms include both symptoms of obsession and symptoms of compulsion. The syndrome manifests as an interplay of the two types of symptoms. For example, the OCD sufferer may have an obsessive fear of contamination, and to alleviate that obsession, he/she may compulsively wash his/her hands until the skin is rubbed raw.
OCD may seem harmless to the casual observer, but it can dominate the victim’s life, making it difficult to keep up with work, school, or family responsibilities.
OCD obsessions are intrusive, distressing thoughts that consume a person’s thoughts. The individual feels compelled to seek relief through ritualistically repeated behaviors. Obsessions tend to have themes, such as:
- Fear of being contaminated (example: fear of germs on objects others have touched)
- Needing things in ideal order (example: high stress when things are not straightened)
- Avoiding circumstances that may trigger obsessions (example: meeting new people)
- Intrusive thoughts that disturb the OCD victim (example: sexual or aggressive thoughts)
- Doubts and trouble coping with uncertainty (example: worrying that you forgot to lock a door)
- Upsetting thoughts about losing self-control and harming oneself or others
Compulsive behavior is a single or series of repetitive action(s) that the individual feels compelled to perform. Repeating behaviors or mental actions are an effort to reduce anxiety generated as part of the sense of need to manage obsessions. Or, it is done in an attempt to prevent imagined bad consequences by ritualistically repeating obsessive actions. But, repeating the actions does not bring relief to the OCD victim and offers no more than temporary relief from OCD-related anxiety. Like obsessions, compulsions tend to have themes. For example:
- Personal washing and house cleaning (example: hand-washing until skin is raw)
- Checking (example: Checking the stove or lights repeatedly to make sure they’re off)
- Counting (example: Counting repetitions in wall, floor, or clothing patterns)
- Orderliness (example: Constantly straightening a drawer to maintain a precise order)
- Rigid routine (example: Repeating a word, phrase, or sentence)
- Continuously demanding reassurance
OCD can begin during childhood, but more often starts in the teen years or young adulthood and lasts throughout a person’s life. Symptoms usually emerge over time and vary in intensity. Obsessions can change over the years. Symptoms may worsen when a person is experiencing increased stress. Symptoms may be mild, moderate, or severe — ranging from somewhat time-consuming to disabling.
When to See a Doctor for OCD
OCD obsessions and compulsions are much more problematic than typical excessive concerns about actual problems in one’s life or just insisting on keeping things clean and tidy. If you find that you are having difficulty managing your daily life due to time-consuming and frustrating obsessions and behavioral compulsions, you should see your doctor or mental health specialist.
There is an effective treatment for OCD, that can help you gain much better control over your thinking, your behavior, and your quality of life.
The diagnostic process your doctor will use in assessing you for OCD may include:
- A complete psychological evaluation
- Evaluating standard diagnostic criteria for OCD
- Physical exam to rule out various causes
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Treatment
Treatment for OCD does not necessarily lead to a complete cure for the condition, but it can help people gain much better control over the quality of their daily life.
What is the best treatment for OCD? Depending on the extent of the interference with their daily lives, some people need longer-term or more intensive OCD treatment. The most effective methods of OCD treatment to date have proven to be the following:
- Psychotherapy: Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), A part of CBT may be Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) therapy. This treatment features exercises in exposing the OCD sufferer to the feared experiences and helps the individual condition his/her responses to them.
- Medications: Some medications can help many people with OCD much better manage their obsessive thoughts and the linked compulsions. Your doctor may recommend antidepressants and/or certain psychiatric medicines. Discuss the benefits and risks of medications for treating OCD with your doctor, and work with him or her to decrease your dosages safely.
Additional OCD Treatment Options
In some cases, treatment with psychotherapy and medication needs to be strengthened with additional support to help people gain greater control over their OCD symptoms. Other treatment options for individuals may include:
- Intensive Outpatient OCD Treatment Center Programs: Comprehensive OCD treatment programs that emphasize Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). This type of program usually lasts for several weeks.
- Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS): This therapy is for adults who have not gotten strong results from other treatment approaches. DBS uses electrode implants in targeted brain areas to emit electrical impulses for regulating the intrusive OCD impulses.
- Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS): This type of treatment is for adults who have not found traditional treatments to be effective for them. The treatment involves the use of magnetic fields for stimulating nerve cells of the brain to improve OCD symptoms. Discuss the risks and potential benefits of this treatment with your doctor.
OCD Treatment at Pathways Real Life Recovery, Utah
Pathways is a mental health treatment and addiction recovery center in Utah. Our clients receive the best OCD treatment from our highly experienced and caring team. Our staff includes Medical Doctors (MD), Recovery Specialists, Self-Esteem Experts, Trauma professionals, Addiction Specialists, and other treatment specialists.