Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a serious disorder that can impact your everyday life, including school, work, relationships, and even simple, daily functions. While OCD is treatable, it is unfortunately often undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. Whether you have received an OCD diagnosis or think that you may have OCD, we want to help you find a way forward.
What is OCD?
OCD is a type of anxiety disorder characterized by excessive unwanted thoughts, urges, images, or fears (obsessions) that are distressing to the person experiencing them. This distress can impact the functioning of your everyday life. To alleviate this distress, you often begin engaging in repetitive physical and/or mental behaviors (compulsions). These compulsions, while temporarily alleviating your distress in the short term, reinforce the OCD. Unless it is stopped, this cycle will lead to a worsening of OCD over time.
What problems can OCD cause?
Many people with OCD can appear completely fine, leading to the misconception that OCD just means quirkiness and isn’t as severe as we know it to be. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) lists OCD in the Top 10 most disabling illnesses. People with OCD can be highly adaptive and often have developed elaborate ways of hiding their torment and symptoms from the people around them. They may do this out of embarrassment or fear of judgment or punishment.
People with OCD can lose hours in their daily lives while tracking fears in the environment and engaging in various rituals in an attempt to feel safe or clean or “just right”. People can appear fine on the outside while being tortured on the inside. This distress can make it very hard to be present with loved ones or focus on work.
Common themes or presentations of OCD
The obsessions and compulsions you may experience often, but not always, revolve around a theme or “core fear”. OCD can present in a wide variety of ways, and it is common for fears or themes to change and fluctuate throughout your life.
While this list is in no way exhaustive, some of the common themes are:
- Contamination fears or extreme disgust reactions: Washing or cleaning compulsions
- Harm fears: Violent obsessions, hit-and-run OCD, fear of causing harm to one’s self or others
- Obsessive worries about one’s sexual orientation or gender identity
- Obsessive worries about the possibility of being a pedophile or sexual predator
- Hyper-responsibility: The fear of making a mistake or causing a tragedy
- Health-related: The fear of having or getting various illnesses
- Obsessive worries about one’s relationship: Whether they are the right one, attractive enough, faithful enough
- Religious or moral obsessions (scrupulosity): worries about morality, right & wrong
- Sensorimotor OCD: Obsessive consciousness and tracking of normal bodily processes like blinking, swallowing, breathing, etc.
- Perfectionism and/or “just right” symptoms: Difficulty moving on until there is an abstract feeling of something being “ok now” or “just right”
- Magical thinking: Superstitious (For example, “If I step on a crack, someone in my family might die.”)
While OCD can pop up in an unlimited number of variations and themes, at its core, there is a struggle to tolerate uncertainty and the discomfort that arises from that uncertainty. While some OCD fears can be characterized as far-fetched, most OCD fears are based on real possibilities. The problem arises in that while possible, these feared outcomes are often not very probable and the extent that a person is willing to go to prevent this improbable outcome begins to negatively impact their quality of life and relationships.
Other disorders that often co-occur with and can be related to OCD
OCD diagnoses can often occur alongside or be related to other disorders such as:
- Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) or appearance-related obsessions
- Social anxiety
- Phobias (fear of animals, flying, vomiting, leaving home, freeways, etc.)
- Panic disorder (fear of panic attacks)
- Trichotillomania (hair pulling) & excoriation disorder (skin picking)
- Eating disorders
- Substance use disorder
Your path to treatment
As OCD and related disorders are commonly underdiagnosed or misdiagnosed, it is important to first receive an accurate diagnosis from a professional who is familiar with the nuances of OCD. Following diagnosis, your provider will discuss appropriate options and treatment protocols with you.
The gold standard treatments for OCD are Exposure-Response Prevention (ERP) and Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SRI) medications. These options are often the first step in OCD treatment. If you don’t find relief from your OCD symptoms with these steps, then your provider will work with you to consider alternative treatment options. Alternative treatment options could include deep transcranial magnetic stimulation (dTMS), esketamine, intensive therapy programs, or any appropriate research trials.
All treatment plans are customized to each individual patient. Our talented team of clinicians and support staff is dedicated to working with patients collaboratively to find a treatment plan that works for them. Our goal is to help patients find relief in a way that feels good.
Why Mindful Health Solutions for OCD treatment?
OCD is a very specific and unique kind of anxiety disorder. At Mindful Health Solutions, all of our providers get specific training in assessing and managing OCD, allowing our team to provide a level of care far above the standard. Not every doctor focuses or specializes in OCD and not every patient has severe enough symptoms to require specialized care. At Mindful Health Solutions, we aim to train all of our physicians to manage most OCD presentations while also providing them access to expert consultations and case reviews should they need any help with your case. For the most treatment-resistant cases, we will try our best to route you directly to our OCD experts.
At Mindful Health Solutions, our providers will first determine an accurate diagnosis and identify if you have any other co-occurring disorders. They will then discuss the best treatment options for your unique needs, whether that is therapy, medication, and/or other innovative and alternative treatments. We pride ourselves on using the best up-to-date and evidence-based treatments for our patients.
Overall, we understand the importance of patient-centered care and understand that one size does not fit all when it comes to mental health treatment. Patients respond well to the dynamic menu of treatments we offer, which includes medication management and psychotherapy as well as cutting-edge alternatives.
Mindful Health Solutions also wants to make treatment comfortable and accessible. We offer telepsychiatry if patients are physically unable to come into the office or prefer a virtual appointment. This option allows patients to get care from wherever they are in the state. We also foster a strong culture of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Our therapists strive to embody a sense of awareness, respect, and humility with regard to cultural differences. And last but not least, we accept most major insurances.