Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) – Symptoms and Treatment
What is OCD?
OCD is an anxiety disorder characterized by uncontrollable and unwanted thoughts which compel a person to perform repetitive and ritualized behaviors in an effort to avoid or decrease anxiety caused by these obsessions. OCD usually causes significant distress and at times can consume hours of a person’s day performing rituals.
Here are some current statistics on OCD and anxiety disorders:
At what age does OCD start?
- OCD can start at any time from preschool to adulthood. Although OCD may occur at earlier ages, there are generally two age ranges when OCD first appears:
- Between ages 8 and 12
- Between the late teens and early adulthood
How common is having OCD or another anxiety disorder?
- Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older (18% of U.S. population).
- OCD is equally common among men and women.
How long does it take most people to get OCD treatment?
- Studies find that it takes an average of 7 to 10 years from the time OCD begins for people to obtain appropriate treatment.
How effective is OCD treatment?
- OCD is a highly treatable condition, yet only about one-third of those suffering receive treatment.
How does OCD develop?
- Anxiety disorders develop from a complex set of risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events.
As you see, you are not alone in the fight against OCD or anxiety. With this awareness, the key is figuring out how you can move forward. Finding a therapist that specializes in OCD or your specific anxiety disorder is key to getting real solutions and help for your fears, concerns, and compulsions. With effective treatment, you are able to break free from an anxiety disorder. The Gateway Institute is here to help you; we look forward to supporting you on your road to recovery.
Symptoms of OCD
- Uncontrollable, intrusive thoughts
- Repetitive thoughts
- Compulsive behavior
- Feeling the need to perform certain tasks
- Seeking reassurance
- Becoming isolated
What are Obsessions?
Obsessions are uncontrollable, intrusive thoughts, images or the fear of performing an impulse.
Common OCD Obsessions
- Exaggerated fears of contamination from contact with people or everyday items
- Fear of causing harm to yourself or others
- Overwhelming urge to arrange items in a particular order so that they are just right
- Superstitions; excessive attention to something considered lucky or unlucky
- Fears of committing violent, sexually inappropriate, immoral, or sacrilegious action
- Overly concerned with illness or disease
What are Compulsions?
Compulsions are behaviors one engages in to neutralize or mitigate fear, stress, or anxiety from obsessions. Compulsions can become incredibly time-consuming and take over someone’s life.
Common OCD Compulsions
- Repeatedly washing hands or showering
- Excessive double-checking of things, such as locks, appliances, and switches
- Counting, tapping, repeating certain words, or doing other senseless things to reduce anxiety
- Continually seeking reassurance from others
- Repeating; re-reading or re-writing
- Ordering or arranging objects unnecessarily
Common OCD Sub-Types
What Causes OCD?
Research has shown that unpleasant thoughts and feelings associated with OCD may be caused by a communication problem stemming from an area in our brain called the basal ganglia. Scientists do not know what exactly causes OCD, but it appears that genetics often play a role in those who are diagnosed with OCD. OCD sufferers often recognize that obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors are irrational, but even so, it is usually impossible to resist and break free from them. It is commonly believed that if these rituals are not performed, a catastrophic event will occur. Further, the OCD sufferer often links this catastrophic event to the death of a loved one or the demise of something very important in their life.
OCD is a chronic illness for which symptoms may fluctuate followed by periods of stress in one’s life that can have disabling effects on the sufferer. Individuals may avoid going to certain places or engaging in certain activities due to embarrassment about their compulsive behaviors. Furthermore, family members of individuals with OCD may feel anger, frustration, and/or guilt when the sufferer’s compulsive behaviors interfere with the functioning of their family. This is why it is very important to include all family members in the treatment process. OCD clearly does not only affect the patient, but usually affects everyone around them. Working with the family and teaching them how to play a role in the treatment program is imperative. Families often find themselves enabling the sufferer out of love, without realizing they are actually reinforcing the strength of the OCD. Family members will be taught how to appropriately respond to the sufferers OCD without inadvertently aligning with it. While there are many common symptoms in those who suffer from OCD, each individual is unique and the intricacies of each person’s OCD will manifest itself in many different forms. The Gateway Institute will help identify the specific fear structures and devise a program specifically tailored to individual’s needs and goals designed to lead a more fulfilling and prosperous life. Whether it is a daily intensive, or a twice a week program, our in-depth clinical assessment will determine the most effective treatment for you or your loved one.
Is OCD Treatable?
If this is your first time coming into the awareness that you have OCD, know that with education and treatment, OCD is highly treatable.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and more specifically Exposure Response Prevention (ERP), a subtype of CBT, has remained the psychotherapeutic treatment for individuals living with OCD.
Types of OCD Treatment
- 3-Week Intensive Treatment Program for Adults: The Gateway Institute offers a 3-week OCD Intensive Treatment Program for adults utilizing the most effective approaches currently available for the treatment of OCD. After a thorough assessment of each client, a treatment plan is designed and tailored to meet the specific needs of each client. This plan is implemented over 3 weeks and includes 45 hours of individualized treatment.
- 3-Week Intensive Treatment Program for Adolescents: The Gateway Institute offers a 3-week OCD Intensive Treatment Program for adolescents utilizing the most effective approaches currently available for the treatment of adolescent OCD.
- 3-Week Intensive Treatment Program for Children: The Gateway Institute offers a 3-week OCD Intensive Treatment Program for children utilizing the most effective approaches currently available for the treatment of child OCD.
- Weekly Program: For clients whose symptoms do not require the Intensive Treatment Program, The Gateway Institute offers OCD treatment programs with weekly sessions or multiple sessions each week, depending on need. The assessment process helps the therapist determine a schedule to recommend and review with each client. This formal evaluation gathers information on the client’s history and evaluates scores from scientifically validated rating scales such as the Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (Y-BOCS).
- Bi or Tri-Weekly Program: Though behavioral therapy may be the most effective treatment in terms of long-term management of OCD, research indicates that combining both CBT and medication may be beneficial for overall success.
- Customized Treatment Program: These options include a 3-week OCD Intensive Therapy Program, weekly, bi-weekly and monthly options.
OCD Therapy Techniques
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Each client will learn cognitive strategies in addition to exposure therapy, and the importance of Mindfulness-Based Awareness Training (MBAT) and how to apply it daily. Learn more about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
- Exposure Response Prevention (ERP): Exposures are conducted outside of the office and at home in order to ensure generalization of treatment gains. Each daily session is followed by additional exposure exercises assigned as homework, which closely parallel the exercises he/she performs during that day’s sessions. Learn more about Exposure Response Prevention.
- Psychoeducation: Education about OCD is one of the most important components of the initial phase of treatment. When clients and their families have a clear understanding how OCD operates in the brain and how it manifests itself, they are better prepared to face the challenges OCD presents. Through no fault of their own, families often enable their loved one’s OCD by giving into the sufferer’s compulsive demands, such as providing reassurance, only at the expense of reinforcing the OCD. The Gateway Institute provides critical education to help minimize unintended reinforcement, and firmly establishes tools that can help facilitate the healing process in a productive manner.
- Mindfulness-Based Behavioral Therapy: Using the advances made in the treatment of OCD over the past 10 years, The Gateway Institute incorporates the most current techniques in its treatment programs. Some of these advanced treatments include Mindfulness Based Behavioral Therapy (MBBT). In our practice, we have discovered that a comprehensive treatment strategy that we refer to as Mindfulness-Based Behavioral Therapy improves treatment response. In MBBT we incorporate informal mindfulness training along with exposure and response prevention (ERP), and a writing intervention with both behavioral and mindfulness components that contribute to treatment effectiveness.
- Behavioral Therapy Combined With Medication: Though behavioral therapy may be the most effective treatment in terms of long-term management of OCD, research indicates that combining both CBT and medication may be beneficial for overall success. Medications considered for the treatment of OCD are usually antidepressants know as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI), which are often effective without severe side effects. The Gateway Institute works with skilled and experienced psychiatrists to find the right combination of medication to effectively treat OCD when necessary.
Other Common Anxiety Disorders
It is not uncommon for an individual to suffer from multiple anxiety disorders. Treating co-occurring conditions simultaneously is important in finding balance and healing from anxiety.
The Gateway Institute is here to support you in getting the help that you need.
Our Orange County, California, Gateway location is proud to provide OCD treatment for the cities of Costa Mesa, Fountain Valley, Santa Ana, Garden Grove, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Fullerton, Irvine, Aliso Viejo, Cypress, Buena Park, Brea, Lake Forest, Tustin, Westminster, Orange and Anaheim.
Our San Francisco Bay Area, California, Gateway location is proud to provide OCD treatment for the cities of San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, Almeda, San Jose, Palo Alto, Fremont, Santa Rosa, Hayward, Sunnyvale, Concord, Santa Clara, Antioch, Richmond, and Fairfield.
Our Maricopa County, Arizona, Gateway location is proud to provide OCD treatment for the cities of Phoenix, Scottsdale, Glendale, Tempe, Gilbert, Queen Creek, Sun Lakes, Mesa, Chandler, Paradise Valley, Surprise, Cave Creek, Carefree, Fountain Hills, Buckeye, Mesa, Peoria, Sun City, Goodyear, and El Mirage.