Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) can impact people’s lives short-term and long-term, affecting their day-to-day lives and relationships with themselves and others. The disorder can affect people of any age.
Seeking treatment for OCD is a great way to manage symptoms, and receiving help is not shameful. Guidance and treatment can positively impact and change the lives of people living with this difficult disorder. If you or a loved one is struggling with OCD, reach out and seek treatment. When you do, you give yourself the chance of a fulfilling life without being ruled by obsessions and compulsions.
What Is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?
OCD is a chronic and long-lasting brain disorder. It causes people to have uncontrollable and reoccurring thoughts—or obsessions—that drive certain behaviors—or compulsions. Examples of these compulsions are continuously washing one’s hands, checking on things, hyper-fixations, or preoccupation with numbers and repetition. Some people may experience common obsessions like fear of germs, fear of getting hurt, or fear of loved ones getting hurt.
Often, this disorder is associated with dysfunctioning brain circuits. Sometimes OCD is genetic, running in families, with symptoms recognizable in childhood and adolescence.
This disorder can drastically interfere with daily life, including work, school, and personal relationships. When left untreated, OCD can consume one’s life entirely.
Signs and Symptoms
The following signs and symptoms of OCD are specific to obsessions:
- Fear of germs or contamination
- Unwanted, forbidden, or taboo thoughts involving sex, religion, or harm
- Aggressive thoughts toward others or self
- Having things symmetrical or in perfect order
One might think of these obsessions as repeated thoughts, urges, and/or mental images that cause anxiety. Compulsions, then, are repetitive behaviors that someone with OCD feels the urge to do in response to an obsessive thought. Behaviors are performed compulsively in an attempt to “fix” the object of one’s obsession. Compulsions may include:
- Excessive cleaning and/or hand washing
- Ordering and arranging things in a particular, seemingly “perfect” way
- Repeatedly checking on things, such as making sure the door is locked or the oven is off
- Compulsive counting
Not all rituals or habits are compulsions, however. Other general signs of OCD include:
- Having uncontrollable thoughts or behaviors, even when these are recognized as excessive
- Spending at least one hour each day on these thoughts or behaviors
- Not feeling pleasure from performing these rituals or habits, but feeling a brief relief from the anxiety these thoughts cause
- Experiencing significant problems in daily life due to these thoughts and/or behaviors
Some people with OCD may have symptoms such as physical or verbal tics. Tics are sudden, brief, repetitive movements such as excessive eye blinking. Symptoms of OCD may come and go and may get worse as time persists.
For those with OCD, their inability to escape their obsessions and compulsions can cause other effects. These may include:
- Damaging social relationships and isolating oneself
- Being unable to complete simple tasks, and therefore affecting their productivity and task completion
- Fatigue from compulsions
- A constant fear of reoccurring thoughts, which may cause physical distress such as illness
- Turning to alcohol or other substances to calm themselves from their obsessions and compulsions
How Can OCD Be Treated?
OCD can be treated with medication, psychotherapy, and other therapeutic options.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs) are common medications to treat OCD. SSRIs can require higher daily doses in treatment than when they are prescribed for depression. These medications may take roughly 8-12 weeks to start working, though some experience rapid improvement earlier on.
As another option, people struggling with OCD may respond well to antipsychotic medication. Antipsychotic medication may help manage symptoms, especially for those who experience tics alongside obsessions and compulsions. However, there is mixed research on the effectiveness of this medication for OCD alone.
Talk therapy, or psychotherapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), can also effectively treat OCD. Other therapy options include exposure and response prevention (ERP) and other similar therapies such as reversal training. These can work as effectively as prescribed medication.
ERP allows clients to spend time in their triggering situations for their compulsions, then work to prevent their compulsions from overtaking them. This is beneficial in reducing compulsive behaviors for those who do not respond ideally to SSRIs.
All treatments are personalized for the individual. Some clients may only need prescribed medication or psychotherapy, while others may require both to reduce symptoms.
How Does Roots Recovery Treat OCD?
At Roots Recovery, we can provide various therapies as well as medication assistance. Specifically for therapy, Roots offers CBT and Seeking Safety programs for clients.
CBT helps clients explore relationships with their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. With a therapist, the client uncovers unhealthy patterns of thought and how these patterns cause self-destructive behaviors and beliefs. For clients with OCD, these behaviors are their compulsions. In addressing these patterns, clients learn to develop more constructive ways of thinking to produce healthier habits.
For individuals with OCD who feel the need to turn to substances to relieve them of their obsessions and compulsions, Roots offers a Seeking Safety program. This counseling model helps people attain safety from their trauma or substance abuse. A therapist teaches safe coping skills and helps clients feel safe with their thoughts, behaviors, and emotions. This program also helps clients recover from using substances when coping with OCD.
Here at Roots Recovery, we provide services to clients with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) such as prescribed medications and therapies. For medication, clients may take selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or antipsychotic medication. Some clients may also be put into cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or our Seeking Safety therapy program to help them combat their obsessions and compulsions with a therapist. Obsessive thoughts and behavioral compulsions can overtake one’s life, impacting social relationships and daily life activities. In some cases, those with OCD may feel the need to turn to substances or alcohol, which can lead to co-occurring disorders. It is important to seek help, and Roots Recovery is here to provide the services necessary. Call (562) 473-0827 to learn more.