Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental illness characterized by repetitive and intrusive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that can cause distress and disruption to everyday life. There are a variety of treatments available for individuals suffering from OCD, including psychotherapy and medications. This article will discuss therapy treatments for obsessive-compulsive disorder and how they help people find relief from their symptoms.
What is OCD?
Before diving into treatments, let’s first do a quick overview of what OCD is. OCD is a type of anxiety disorder characterized by excessive unwanted thoughts, concerns, and fears (obsessions) that lead to repetitive mental or physical behavior (compulsions). These thoughts and behaviors may be rooted in a fear that is technically possible but often not probable.
The extent that a person goes to prevent this feared outcome becomes unreasonable. The fear and uncertainty around this unwanted yet unlikely outcome can trigger intense distress that gets in the way of everyday functioning. People with OCD may begin to make life choices based on fear rather than on the people and things they value and care about most.
OCD is often a lifelong disorder that may start in childhood but more likely begins during the teen or young adult years. The severity of the symptoms and the types of obsessions and compulsions one might have can often fluctuate and change over time. For instance, it is very common for symptoms to get worse during times of higher stress or significant change.
Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy for OCD
Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) is one of the gold-standard treatments for OCD. It helps you face the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that create distress. This type of therapy helps you confront your obsessions directly, which can help reduce anxiety and reduce compulsions.
During therapy sessions, you are exposed to the source of your fear in a controlled environment. Then, your therapist trains you on how to cope with the fear without engaging in compulsive behaviors. This treatment is effective in reducing symptoms such as reducing rumination and preventing the occurrence of future obsessive-compulsive episodes.
ERP can be an effective form of treatment for OCD, as it helps you learn to overcome your fear and challenge thoughts that contribute to your obsessions and compulsions. This form of therapy is also beneficial as it can be tailored to your specific needs. Additionally, ERP can provide long-term effects, reducing the likelihood of future OCD episodes.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
ERP is actually a specific type of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Other CBT techniques are also used to treat OCD. This therapy approach focuses on how to change patterns of thinking that cause distress or lead to engaging in the behavior associated with OCD. Additionally, CBT helps you identify triggers that can lead to obsessive or compulsive behaviors and create strategies to manage those emotions and behaviors. Another benefit of CBT is that it provides you with long-term skills that can help you manage your condition in everyday life.
Overall, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is incredibly useful in treating obsessive-compulsive disorder, as it helps you understand your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It also guides you in developing tools to better manage and reduce the impact of OCD. Getting treated with both CBT techniques can provide larger benefits when coupled with ERP.
Medication for OCD
In addition to therapy, medications can be used to help relieve symptoms associated with OCD. The gold standard medication used to treat OCD are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). SSRIs work to help boost serotonin activity, which can lead to a decrease in obsessions and compulsions.
When used in combination with therapy, medications can be effective in reducing symptoms. Medication can help reduce the intensity of symptoms, allowing individuals to make progress in therapy. But it’s important to remember that medications are not a cure for OCD. Rather, it should be used in conjunction with therapy to be effective.
It is important to consult with a healthcare practitioner before starting medication, as medications can have side effects and can interact with other medications. It’s also important for you to keep your mental health professional updated about your progress, as medications may need to be adjusted to treat your symptoms effectively.
OCD is a condition that can be treated with a variety of methods, including medication and therapy. Taking the time to understand OCD and the different forms of treatment can help you take control of your condition, and lead to a more fulfilling life with less mental distress and disruption. If you’re interested in getting started with treatment, we have expert providers who specialize in OCD. Give us a call at 844-867-8444 to get the treatment you deserve.