Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder that is characterized by obsessions and compulsions. People with OCD will have unwanted thoughts or images (obsessions) that create anxiety and then will engage in behaviours (compulsions) to try and decrease their anxiety. It can become quite distressing when it takes someone with OCD two hours to leave the house because they are unsure that the door is locked and will keep checking in order to see that it is locked. Or when they believe they have been contaminated by an object and have to shower multiple times before they can leave the house. At first it may look like odd behaviours and they can still function in daily life, but then it may increase in severity where work and relationships become strained or non-existent.
Symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Obsessions: Intrusive unwanted thoughts, urges or images.
Dirt and/or Contamination
Need for order and symmetry
Thoughts of having to save things that may not be of any value
Thoughts of inappropriate sexual content
Religious thoughts (excessive concerns about right and wrong)
Thoughts or images of aggression
Superstitious Fears (numbers or colours are lucky/unlucky)
Compulsions: Repetitive behaviours that people engage in to get rid of the uncomfortable feeling from the thoughts urges or images.
Cleaning and Washing
Asking over and over for re-assurance
Doing something or organizing until it is "just right"
Collecting/hoarding things that may not be of value
Need to touch or tap things
Treatment for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Treatment for OCD will usually consist of medication and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). More specifically; Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) & Cognitive Therapy. The "Exposure" in Exposure and Response Prevention is when an individual is exposed (imagined or direct) to the object, thought or situation that is creating the trigger to want to engage in the compulsion in order to decrease the anxiety. Over time the exposure in a controlled environment the individual is able to decrease the intensity of the anxiety to decrease the need to engage in a compulsion. The "Response Prevention" in ERP is learning how to resist in engaging in compulsions to decrease the anxiety associated with the obsession. Cognitive Therapy is usually combined with ERP in order to increase the effectiveness of treatment. Cognitive therapy looks at the interpretation of the obsessions and how to re-examine these interpretations.
I have been fortunate to see the value and effectiveness of ERP and cognitive therapy for clients in their ability to have more control and decrease their symptoms of OCD.
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Contact Gita Ward for an appointment to learn how to decrease your OCD symptoms and gain more control of your life. I return all phone calls and emails within 24-48 hours.