What is Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)?
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is a common, chronic, and long-lasting disorder. OCD affects 1 out of every 40 adults and 1 in every 100 children in the US. It impacts people across all ages, genders, and lifestyles. It presents itself through unnecessary and repetitive behavior, thoughts, or feelings that can torment and interrupt daily life. These thoughts, feelings, and behaviors can trigger significant distress, anxiety, panic, fear, depression, and worry.
A person who has OCD typically spends more than an hour a day on these tasks. These behaviors happen regardless of the logic behind them. Obsessive-compulsive disorder manifests in many ways and isn’t always simple. Despite how common it is, people who suffer from these symptoms typically try to hide their behaviors from those around them.
Despite how common it is, people who suffer from these symptoms typically try to hide their behaviors from those around them.
Obsessions are defined as unwanted, intrusive thoughts, images, or urges that cannot be dismissed. They trigger intensely distressing feelings, take up significant time, and get in the way of daily tasks and relationships.
Common obsessions include:
- unwanted sexual thoughts
- images of losing control or experiencing violence
- fear of blurting out obscenities
- playing out devastating rule-breaking behavior
- being contaminated with bodily fluids or radiation
- being responsible for harm to others or yourself
- the need to know things
- concerns with appearance
- the need to be right
- and/or contracting diseases.
Compulsions are defined as behaviors an individual engages in to attempt to get rid of the obsessions and/or decrease his or her distress. It can be a physical act or something mental and typically involves some sort of checking behavior.
Common compulsions (actions taken to stave off a negative obsession) include:
- excessive handwashing
- cleaning living spaces
- checking in with family members for their safety
- counting a certain action while doing common activities
- saying or thinking positive statements
- seeking reassurance
- and repeating common activities, like locking the doors or brushing teeth.
What does OCD treatment look like?
Although there is no cure for OCD, you can learn how to better manage and even eliminate some of the symptoms of OCD that you experience. This is done through the work of building awareness and skills. Then Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) which is a form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) developed specifically for Obsessive-Compulsive symptoms. It involves exposing oneself to the thoughts, images, objects, and situations that trigger distress and obsessive behavior. This is a tough process and is best when paired with safe planning and skill building with a trained therapist. ERP works better for OCD versus traditional talk therapy because OCD is a trickster that thrives on reassurance and has a difficult time using logic and insight to decrease distress patterns.
In addition, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is also a form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) that includes mindfulness and a focus on values-based actions. ACT focuses on finding a way to allow obsessions and anxiety to come and go without interfering with the way one lives his or her life.
How long will therapy take?
The length of therapy is based on the severity and symptoms of a person’s OCD. Some clients come in for weekly sessions for three to six months. This can sometimes be determined in the initial stages of therapy but is largely based on how OCD presents itself for each individual.
If you believe you are suffering from OCD or other mental compulsions, call for a free consultation today, and learn how to improve your life with skills gained from an expert OCD treatment specialist using exposure and response prevention (ERP) and acceptance and commitment therapy(ACT).
You have gained some insight into OCD. If you or a loved one is feeling down, hopeless, guilty, traumatized, or struggling, please schedule a free 15-minute phone consultation with Lacie to see if you feel like she is a good fit to help you reach your goals.