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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (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.

Common Obsessions of OCD

  • 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

Common compulsions of OCD include:

  • 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
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 my 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 persons 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.

Comorbid Disorders

In addition to treating OCD, The Gateway Institute treats related anxiety disorders including Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), Trichotillomania, Compulsive Skin Picking, Panic Disorder, >Social Anxiety / Phobia, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and Depression. Successful treatment for these disorders also include behavioral therapy as noted above for the treatment of OCD, in addition to a combination of behavioral therapies and medication when needed.