What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

You may have heard someone saying things like, “my OCD is kicking in”, or “I’m so OCD”, but does that person really have OCD?

Being particular about where you like things placed in your house or being picky about your appearance or food etc. are preferences, generally not OCD. Significant disruption to your life is key to the characterization of OCD. It involves a cycle of obsessions and compulsions that cause intense anxiety and distress. The obsessions are thoughts or images that occur and the person feels these are out of their control to do anything about, the compulsion then kicks in to help the person make the obsessions “go away” or counteract them.

There are common obsessions, such as harm, perfectionism, religious, losing control and others.

Some common compulsions include washing/cleaning, checking, mentally going over things, repeating patterns. There can be many other themes as well. Some people may experience more mental compulsions and not outwardly engage in behavioral compulsions.

A common question people want to know is what causes OCD? The short answer…many factors! It can be inherited, or can involve disruptions in brain communication, or a number of other factors.  Adults and children can develop OCD but it is NOT caused by something the person did or didn’t do.

Many people can find help through medication and therapy.

Therapy for OCD involves many behavioral and cognitive techniques, such as Exposure Response Prevention, and can improve the lives of people who have OCD.

(Source: International OCD Foundation)

About the Author

Jill Patano, LCPC is a therapist at our Edison Park location. Jill works with adults. Jill’s specialties include anxiety, OCD, panic and phobias, stress management, perfectionism, CBT, ERP, coping skills, and life transitions. If you are interested in working with Jill, send an email today!

What is Exposure Response Prevention (ERP)?

This is a behavioral technique used to treat anxiety, OCD and other related disorders. Simply put it involves doing the thing that’s being avoided or the situation you fear. It may sound scary at first, but it is done with the guidance and expertise of a therapist.

It works like this: You purposely engage in the thoughts, mental images or situations that cause anxiety. While doing this, you then choose not to engage in the response that you normally would to take away the anxious feelings. For example, someone who has contamination fears may feel the need to wash their hands 10 times after they touched a doorknob. During an exposure they would touch the doorknob and make the choice to only wash their hands 7 times. During repeated exposures the person would continue to reduce the amount of handwashing.  The goal of all this is to reduce the anxiety levels by not giving in to the compulsions.

This isn’t just being told to go face your fears, a therapist will help you develop a hierarchy of fears or a list of behaviors to tackle. You will work together on this and do some exposures at home as well. ERP is not meant to put you in danger and it’s important to speak up and tell your therapist if you feel an exposure is causing extreme stress. Remember though, you will feel some anxiety during the exposures, you are doing the thing you’ve been avoiding after all!  But after repeated times, the anxiety levels will drop.

(Source: International OCD Foundation)

 

About the Author

Jill Patano, LCPC is a therapist at our Edison Park location. Jill works with adults. Jill’s specialties include anxiety, OCD, panic and phobias, stress management, perfectionism, CBT, ERP, coping skills, and life transitions. If you are interested in working with Jill, send an email today!

By: Jill Patano, LCPC

A certain amount of anxiety and/or worry is a normal part of human existence, but when it starts to interfere with daily functioning, there are steps you can take to manage it better.


 

About the Author

Jill Patano, LCPC is a therapist at our Edison Park location. Jill works with adults. Jill’s specialties include anxiety, OCD, panic and phobias, stress management, perfectionism, CBT, ERP, coping skills, and life transitions. If you are interested in working with Jill, send an email today!