Also known as: Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) symptoms are unique to each individual, but some common patterns do exist. The condition is characterized by obsessive thoughts and/or compulsive behaviors that significantly interfere with daily life. Obsessions are unwanted, recurrent, and disturbing thoughts, impulses or images that are difficult to suppress.
Symptoms of obsessions include:
- Fear of contamination or dirt
- Needing things orderly and symmetrical
- Aggressive or horrific thoughts about harming yourself or others
- Unwanted thoughts, including aggression, or sexual or religious subjects
- Fear of touching objects others have touched
- Doubts that you’ve locked the door or turned off the stove
- Intense stress when objects aren’t orderly or facing a certain way
- Images of hurting yourself or someone else that are unwanted and make you uncomfortable
- Thoughts about shouting obscenities or acting inappropriately that are unwanted and make you uncomfortable
- Avoidance of situations that can trigger obsessions, such as shaking hands
Compulsions are repetitive, ritualized behaviors that a person feels driven to perform to alleviate the anxiety or discomfort created by the obsessions. Symptoms of compulsions include:
- Excessive cleaning
- Following a strict routine
- Demanding reassurances
- Hand-washing until your skin becomes raw
- Checking doors repeatedly to make sure they’re locked
- Checking the stove repeatedly to make sure it’s off
- Counting in certain patterns
- Silently repeating a prayer, word or phrase
- Arranging your canned goods to face the same way
At IDCC, we provide evidence-based treatment for OCD. Treatment includes exposure and response prevention, as well as strategies to enhance emotion regulation and adaptive coping which help people manage their personal stressors. During an initial evaluation, we aim to assess symptom presentation, treatment goals, and the level of treatment appropriate for each person. Our clinicians also offer medication consultation and management to ensure the medication is the correct dosage and taken responsibly.
Consistent with IDCC’s approach to treating mental illness, we first consider a form of psychotherapy, not medication. The most trusted psychotherapy option for OCD is Exposure Response Prevention (ERP) therapy. ERP exposes individuals to the thoughts, images and objects that trigger anxiety in order to give them the tools they need to prevent responding to anxiety with compulsions and rituals. This therapy is conducted in a controlled environment is always facilitated by mental health professionals who have been trained in ERP therapy.
If deemed necessary, medication is an option that has seen success in treating OCD. A series of trials on different medications is not uncommon to ensure adverse effects, if any, are kept to a minimum.