Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a personality disorder marked by intense, repetitive, and/or uncontrollable thoughts, urges, or behaviors that usually cause significant stress and anxiety in a person's life.
When untreated, OCD can affect one's ability to hold a job, form relationships, or even experience a relaxing day. In short, it’s a very serious disorder that can easily keep a person from living a happy and healthy life on their own terms.
The good news is, there’s hope. Through a combination of OCD therapy and education, individuals learn critical coping skills that will finally allow them to overcome the stress and anxiety caused by their disorder. If you think you may have OCD, we hope this resource will help you find the resolution you need and get your life back under control.
Colloquially, the term “OCD” is a phrase often thrown around to describe someone who is especially neat or orderly, or used to describe a person’s special habits regarding cleanliness.
The truth is, OCD is much more serious than those shallow descriptions. As mentioned previously, OCD can be a very painful and diagnosable disorder that can cause a significant amount of stress in a person’s life and should not be taken lightly.
OCD symptoms and behavior can widely vary from person to person; however, virtually all are marked by an uncontrollable fixation on a particular concern or subject. As the “obsessive-compulsive” portion of the disorder illustrates, individuals with OCD can exhibit either one or both of these tendencies.
Obsessions are unwanted thoughts or mental images that repeatedly crowd the affected individual's mind. Common examples include constant and overwhelming thoughts about germs or contamination, symmetry or evenness, violent or gruesome images, overt sexualization, religious or moral guilt, and other highly stressful thoughts.
Compulsions are often (but not always) an uncontrollable response to an obsessive thought. Common examples include excessive hand washing due to a contamination obsession, constant reordering or rearranging of objects to increase order or maintain symmetry, exhaustive number counting, or excessive hoarding of objects or food, among dozens of other unhealthy or irrational actions.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy can be a highly powerful way for individuals to overcome the struggles they face from OCD. Especially helpful for individuals who developed their OCD after a traumatic experience or event, EMDR allows people with OCD to overcome previously unprocessed traumas and finally start to move beyond their compulsions and irrational thoughts or behaviors. For individuals whose OCD does not stem from trauma, however, EMDR therapy with OCD protocol works exceptionally well and is a highly-regarded treatment method for OCD.
CBT and ERP
Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and closely related therapy methods such as Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) therapy are excellent treatment options for OCD as well. Traditional CBT helps individuals with OCD by first helping them realize and understand how their thoughts are unhealthy and/or irrational, and then replacing those patterns or thought processes with healthier ways of thinking and behaving.
In terms of ERP treatment, individuals are exposed to certain stimuli in order to trigger their OCD behavior. During these exposure exercises, the individual is asked to refrain from engaging in their normal OCD habits. The goal here is to eliminate the impulses to carry out irrational behaviors as well as highlight how their OCD is a contributing factor to their anxiety rather than a decreasing factor.
In conjunction with OCD therapy, medication can help individuals with OCD regain control over their thoughts and behaviors. Medication is not intended to be stand-alone solution to OCD, so it is highly recommended that any individual with this disorder to first seek therapy in order to maximize the outcome of their OCD treatment.
Located in Scottsdale, Arizona, Pathways Counseling Services is a mental health practice that specializes in the treatment and support of individuals with OCD and anxiety. Depending on the situation and needs of the individual being treated, our therapists customize a therapy plan to provide the best possible treatment and support for that individual.
If you or a loved one has OCD, or at least exhibit symptoms of OCD, we'd love to talk. Even if you don't have a formal diagnosis, you can schedule an appointment here or call us at (602) 235-1682 to get in touch.