OCD can be a very isolating and frustrating condition; it affects people of all ages and backgrounds. For many people with OCD, their obsessions and compulsions take up an inordinate amount of time and energy and rob them of a chance to live fuller, happier lives. Anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem are common for people with OCD.
OCD is a condition in which people get stuck in a cycle of obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are unwanted, recurring thoughts that cause anxiety or distress; these could include thoughts about germs and contamination, fear of harming oneself or others, health, sex, religion/morality, order, and perfectionism. People with OCD perform compulsions (sometimes called “rituals”) to temporarily relieve themselves of the anxiety caused by their obsessions. A person with a fear of germs, for example, may spend hours meticulously cleaning themselves or their home. While this reduces their anxiety in the short run, it causes their OCD to get worse in the long run.
Everyone has obsessions and compulsions at times. What makes OCD different is the persistence of obsessions and compulsions and the negative impact they have on one’s life. Whereas most people can let go of an unwanted thought after a while (e.g., “Did I turn the oven off?”), those thoughts get stuck in the minds of people with OCD and repeat over and over again. It’s hard to be a good partner or friend if everything in your house has to be arranged “just right” before you can relax and have a conversation, or if you can’t share a couch with anyone due to your fear of germs.
Fortunately, there are a number of treatment options for people who suffer from OCD including individual and group psychotherapy. OCD treatment typically involves “Exposure and Response Prevention” (ERP), a process by which the person with OCD exposes themselves to situations that trigger obsessive fears and doesn’t allow themselves to perform a compulsion in response. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) have been shown to be effective in treating OCD as well.
To learn more about OCD treatment at Golden Gate Psychotherapy, please contact John “Andy” Bradshaw, LMFT, at 510-599-9845 or email@example.com.