Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a type of anxiety disorder that affects millions of Americans each year. According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, OCD affects 2.5 million adults or 1.2% of the US population.
OCD is characterized by intrusive and unwanted thoughts, feelings, images, or sensations (obsessions) that make people feel driven to do something (compulsions). In many cases, they carry out these behaviors to eliminate the obsessive thoughts, but this only provides temporary relief. When they don’t perform the compulsive rituals, they may experience significant anxiety.
OCD can affect someone’s life in multifaceted ways. Left untreated, it can result in other severe mental health disorders like panic attacks, anxiety, and depression. It can also lead to substance use and addiction as those suffering seek ways to cope with the underlying mental condition.
In other cases, OCD makes it difficult for one to work, study, or even go out in public. Those struggling with OCD may become so bogged down by their obsessions and compulsions that they cannot take care of themselves.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common mental disorder with a chronic state of anxiety. People with OCD experience obsessions, which are intrusive and unwanted thoughts, images, or urges that cause distress. To relieve this distress, they often engage in compulsions, which are repetitive behaviors or thoughts they feel compelled to do.
In most cases, people with OCD do not want to perform these behaviors or think these thoughts. However, they feel they must do them to avoid worsening their anxiety. This can lead to significant distress and cause problems in their daily lives.
Compulsions may work to relieve the anxiety associated with obsessions temporarily. However, the relief is only temporary, and the obsessions often cause more anxiety. This can lead to a cycle of compulsions and obsessions that is very difficult to break without treatment. OCD is ranked by the WHO and World Bank as among the ten most debilitating disorders.
Several risk factors may contribute to the development of OCD, including:
Obsessive thoughts are a common symptom of OCD and can take many forms.
People with anxiety disorders often develop elaborate rituals or avoidance behaviors to minimize their exposure to whatever is causing their obsession. They may:
While the specifics may vary, obsessive thoughts share a common theme: a sense of control. People with OCD often feel that if they manage their environment in a certain way, they can avoid whatever they are afraid of. Unfortunately, this usually only leads to further distress.
OCD is typically treated with psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of the two. Most patients with OCD respond well to treatment and see a significant reduction in their symptoms.
In some cases, OCD patients also have other mental health issues like depression, anxiety, or body dysmorphic disorder. It’s essential to consider these other disorders when developing a treatment plan, as they may impact the effectiveness of OCD treatments.
Medications are one type of treatment that can be effective in managing OCD. Common medications used to treat OCD include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), and tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs). These medications increase serotonin levels in the brain, which can help reduce anxiety and improve mood.
If these medications don’t help improve the symptoms, the doctor may prescribe antipsychotics. Antipsychotics are typically used as a second-line treatment for OCD due to the risk of severe side effects.
There are many different types of psychotherapy, each offering unique benefits. However, for those suffering from OCD, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is often the treatment of choice. CBT helps patients identify and challenge their disorder’s negative thoughts and behaviors.
Through exposure and response prevention (ERP), patients can gradually confront their fears and learn to control their compulsions. In addition, CBT teaches patients healthy coping mechanisms that can be used in times of stress.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder can cause significant distress and disrupt everyday life. But with treatment, most patients can manage their symptoms and live happy, healthy lives. First Light Recovery offers a range of treatment options for OCD, including CBT. We also provide a variety of other therapies to help address the underlying causes of OCD.
First Light Recovery offers comprehensive mental health treatment to support patients as they improve their quality of life. We work with our patients to help manage their mental health conditions and learn healthy coping skills.
If you or a loved one is struggling with OCD, we encourage you to seek help. Contact us to learn more about our services and how we can help.