Treating Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

In popular culture, people often use “OCD” as a generic phrase that has nothing to do with the disorder at all. However, not many people understand what this condition is and just how debilitating it is. Without proper treatment, a person with obsessive-compulsive disorder may struggle in a cycle of intrusive thoughts and compulsive behaviors indefinitely. At Alter Behavioral Health, we appreciate the severity of this disorder and understand how to help treat it.

What is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD is a specific type of anxiety disorder with unique symptoms and effects. Internally, the person will suffer from intrusive thoughts, worries, and fears that produce intense discomfort. This manifests in a variety of repetitive, compulsive behaviors that the person engages in as a matter of seeking relief.

Major depression is the most common type in America, and as many as 5% of Americans may suffer an episode in a year. While some people respond well to psychotherapy in isolation, others require medication for their depression. Either way, what matters is that people are able to find the support they need to live a happy life.

Obsessions

The intrusive obsessions that come with OCD can take many forms. Some people experience fears of dirt and bacteria, while others find themselves obsessed with violence or death. Obsessive, uncomfortable ideation about sex, personal danger, or danger to others is also common.

While anything might be an obsession, the unifying trait is that these intrusive thoughts cause unbearable anxiety and prove difficult or impossible to stop. As a result, the afflicted individual turns to their compulsions to find relief while, in-reality, reinforcing the anxiety.

Compulsions

Compulsions are learned behaviors that relate to the obsessions in some way and seem to offer a short-term sense of relief. This can be excessive cleaning, seeking reassurance, or taking unusual steps to preempt hypothetical dangers.

The person with OCD experiences their compulsions as a form of relief, this is temporary. By vindicating and responding to the obsessions, the person reinforces the obsessions and perpetuates the cycle. However, psychotherapy and medication can help break the cycle and lead the afflicted individual to a happy life.

Treating Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

To date, various forms of medications have been used in treating OCD. Antidepressants are one common choice, as they serve to undermine the cycle of obsessive ideation. However, studies show that psychotherapy, not medication is the key to achieving the best outcomes for those with OCD.

That said, to achieve the best results, it’s necessary to employ a unique form of psychotherapy that’s geared specifically toward treating obsessive-compulsive disorder. Cognitive-behavioral therapy can help change the patterns of thinking that accompany the obsessive-compulsive cycle. Then, exposure and response prevention causes the person to think about the object of their obsessions while helping them avoid partaking in compulsions.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a flexible, versatile modality that care experts can adapt to many different mental illnesses. In the case of OCD, the therapist helps the patient break down their thoughts and behaviors into their component parts and see where the impulses come from. By understanding their fears and reactions, the person with obsessive-compulsive disorder is able to proceed with a specific form of exposure therapy.

Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy

Exposure therapy is a common resource for treating anxiety of all sorts, and ERP is based on the same principle. It starts with presenting the person with their fear as in normal exposure therapy. However, exposure and response prevention also emphasizes preventing the person from engaging in the compulsive behaviors that give them comfort. While this can often entail extreme anxiety at first, it will often reduce or even eliminate the root anxiety over time.

Orange County OCD Treatment

At Alter Behavioral Health, we take advantage of the latest advances in medical science to help people overcome their mental health issues. If you’re looking for CBT and ERP therapy for OCD in Orange County, get in touch with us today. You can also give us a call if you suspect that you or a loved one is suffering from OCD.