Have Obsessive Thoughts Or Compulsive Behaviors Taken Control Of Your Life?
You struggle with unwanted, repetitive, and bothersome thoughts. You try to ignore them, but they won’t go away. In fact, it’s gotten worse over time.
These thoughts, images, or impulses make you feel uncomfortable. They represent fears that you associate with certain negative consequences. So you find yourself engaging in repetitive behaviors, or rituals, in order to help you feel better. But, the improvement lasts just a bit, and you have to do them again. Sometimes, you find yourself getting caught up in a seemingly endless cycle of obsessions and compulsions. Anxiety, relief, anxiety, relief – and the cycle continues.
When repetitive thoughts and behaviors interfere with everyday living, you might be suffering from OCD.
The Truth About OCD
Unfortunately, there are a lot of misconceptions floating around about OCD. Many people use the term erroneously to describe behavior that is neat, orderly, or rigid. In fact, OCD is a mental illness characterized by unwanted thoughts, images, or urges, which trigger distress and can lead to compulsions, behaviors attempting to eliminate the obsessions or decrease related distress.
The causes of OCD are multi-faceted. We know that OCD is a brain disorder that has a genetic component. The disorder tends to run in families. Significant stress or illness may activate the genes associated with OCD.
According to the International OCD Foundation, about 2-3 million adults in the United States currently live with OCD. People of all ages, genders, races, and ethnicities struggle with OCD. There tend to be two ranges when OCD first emerges, between ages 8-12 or and then again around the late teen and early adult years.
Here are some common obsessions and compulsions that might affect you if you dealing with OCD:
- Fear of contamination (due to germs, dirt, chemicals, etc.)
- Superstitious ideas about numbers or sequences
- Fear of harming oneself or others
- Concerns of offending God or doing something immoral
- Unwanted sexual thoughts or impulses
- Mental compulsions (e.g., counting, reviewing, praying)
- Checking (that you did not harm anyone or that you did something correctly)
- Ordering things until they feel “right”
- Asking others for reassurance
Several other disorders fall under the Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders umbrella in the DSM-5. They include Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), Trichotillomania, and Excoriation (Skin-Picking) Disorder, also known as Dermatillomania. Each of these disorders involves coping with distress via repetitive activity/behavior, from appearance checking in BDD, to hair pulling or skin picking in the others. Body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRB) can lead to physical damage to the body but aren’t intended to self-harm.
OCD Therapy At Gatewell
At Gatewell, we offer specialized OCD therapy and can help free you from the nagging and persistent control of obsessions and compulsions. We are trained in cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), an evidence-based treatment for OCD. That means that this type of therapy has been shown in the research to be effective. In fact, only CBT and medication are considered “first line” interventions for OCD.
A specific type of CBT, Exposure Plus Response Prevention (ERP) is often used to treat OCD. This is the most researched and evidence-based therapy for OCD. With ERP, you face your obsessions without turning to compulsive behavior. Over time, you will likely experience a reduction in the frequency and severity of your obsessions, which further reduces compulsive behavior, and you learn how to tolerate intrusive thoughts when they occur.
What To Expect
In your first session, we’ll get to know you and what you’re looking for in therapy. We’ll ask about symptoms, your history of treatment, and we’ll explore the trajectory of your OCD over time. We’ll get a sense of when it seems to be better vs. worse. During or after this first session, we might administer self-report measures, such as the Y-BOCS for OCD, as well as other applicable questionnaires. We’ll offer some education on different treatment options and create a plan together that works for you.
How We Can Help You Find Freedom From OCD
Our therapists are committed to offering evidence-based treatment for OCD. Some of the primary interventions that we use include:
- Exposure Plus Response Prevention (ERP), which involves intentional exposure to obsessive content while preventing related compulsive behaviors
- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), which helps you accept and separate from obsessive thoughts, while at the same time, focusing on creating and living a values-aligned life
But You Might Still Have Concerns About Starting OCD Therapy . . .
I have a lot of shame about my obsessions. I worry my provider might judge me or have me hospitalized because of the severity of these thoughts.
OCD does not discriminate, and sometimes, folks struggle with disturbing obsessions, such as fears of harming others. These obsessions can be particularly jarring as they involve a significant discrepancy from the person’s general way of being in the world. Moreover, some people who hear about the person’s obsessions may mistakenly believe the sufferer is more likely to commit harmful acts, when that’s categorically untrue. We are here to offer support and empathy around your symptoms, no matter what form they take. And we understand that an obsession is just an obsession and doesn’t mean you’re any more likely to engage in a behavior than anyone else.
I’ve already tried talk therapy, and it wasn’t helpful for my OCD. How is this different?
In OCD therapy at Gatewell, you won’t just be talking, you’ll be doing. Recovering from OCD requires behavioral change. You’ll find that working with us is more active and structured than other types of therapy.
The idea of exposures sounds intimidating. Can I get help without them?
You get to decide what you do in your therapy, and we’ll never push you to do something that doesn’t feel right for you. While ERP is the most researched OCD therapy, it’s not the only one. ACT has shown promise with regards to efficacy, and we’re happy to work with you on responding to your obsessions in different ways without exposures if that approach feels too daunting.
Take Back Control Of Your Life With OCD Therapy
OCD can be a challenging diagnosis, but with the right interventions, it does not have to entail a lifetime of suffering. Effective treatment is available and can help you regain control of your thinking and behavior. Contact Gatewell Therapy Center to get started on your path toward recovery.