Harm OCD – Symptoms and Treatment
What is Harm OCD?
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder that can affect any person regardless of age, gender, or nationality. OCD can cause unwanted, intrusive thoughts (obsessions) that can cause a person to develop compulsive behaviors in order to cope with and neutralize the anxiety caused by their distressing thoughts. Harm OCD is a type of OCD that causes a person to have doubts and fears about whether they are in control of themselves and if they could become violent towards themselves or others.
Common Symptoms of Harm OCD
A typical symptom of Harm OCD is the fear of hurting oneself or one’s loved ones. Those suffering from Harm OCD experience intrusive thoughts or mental imagery of violence towards themselves or others. These obsessional thoughts create incredible distress and leave someone suffering from Harm OCD doubting whether or not they want to act out these violent thoughts they are having. As a result, individuals suffering from Harm OCD will usually leave the situation or avoid the person or situation that triggers these thoughts. This avoidance becomes a coping mechanism that the person believes is necessary to keep themselves and others safe. Unfortunately, this avoidance, as a compulsion, strengthens and reinforces the vicious cycle of OCD.
Common Obsessions of Harm OCD
- Fear that one day they will snap and hurt a loved one or themselves
- Fear of committing a violent act
- Fear of giving into a violent urge
- Fear of committing an impulse like stabbing or killing someone
- Fear of commit suicide before hurting someone
- Fear that one day they’ll go unconscious and cause harm without even knowing
Common Compulsions of Harm OCD
Often, Harm OCD is confused with “Pure OCD” since most compulsions that accompany Harm OCD go unnoticed by others.
Some common compulsions seen with Harm OCD include:
- Compulsively checking yourself and others to ensure you didn’t hurt anyone
- Avoiding people or situations that may trigger your obsessions
- Asking others to ensure that you did not perform any harm
- Mentally reviewing your memories to ensure you did not hurt anyone
- Avoiding knives, pens, or other sharp objects that could be used to hurt someone
Treatment for Harm OCD
People suffering from Harm OCD are encouraged to seek treatment from a mental health treatment provider that specializes in the treatment of OCD. OCD specialists are equipped and prepared to treat a wide array of OCD subtypes, including Harm OCD . Like all types of OCD, Harm OCD can be treated with Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), specifically with treatment approaches called Exposure with Response Prevention (ERP), and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy.
Mindful-Based CBT teaches patients that everyone experiences intrusive thoughts. Individuals will also learn that intrusive thoughts have no power over them and that by responding to their thoughts through compulsive behaviors, their thoughts are given more strength and credibility and their fears and obsessions are strengthened and reinforced. Mindfulness-Based CBT is a very effective OCD treatment, especially when combined with ERP.
ERP exposes patients to situations related to their intrusive thoughts that cause them anxiety. The goal of this treatment is for the patient to prevent himself or herself from completing their compulsive behaviors when triggered by intrusive thoughts. The situations that are confronted will intensify over time, until the patient can face and overcome their most feared scenario. Once they are able to stop themselves from responding to their intrusive thoughts with compulsive behaviors, they can experience tremendous relief from the symptoms of OCD.
If patients are suffering from severe levels of anxiety due to their OCD, they may benefit from participating in treatment at an Intensive Outpatient (IOP) OCD treatment program, as is offered by The Gateway Institute. The Gateway Institute offers Intensive Outpatient treatment options as well as regular outpatient psychotherapy sessions, and a free, 30 minute face-to-face consultation with one of our experienced and caring clinicians at all three of our beautiful locations in Orange County, Scottsdale, Arizona, and the San Francisco Bay Area. OCD symptoms typically worsen over time and can take over a person’s life, so it is very important to seek OCD treatment as soon as possible with a skilled and dedicated OCD specialist who can provide expertise and support during this journey.
Other Common Sub-Types Of OCD
It is not uncommon for an individual suffering from one OCD sub-type to also suffer from other sub-types. Treating co-occurring sub-types simultaneously is important in finding balance and healing from OCD.
The Gateway Institute is here to support you in getting the help that you need.
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