Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE DISORDER
“ Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is an anxiety-based disorder that significantly impacts the lives of those who suffer from it. Individuals with OCD attempt to avoid distressing thoughts or situations and, in the process, develop certain rituals or habits to reduce or neutralize anxiety/distress.”
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is made up of two parts: obsessions and compulsions.
Obsessions are unwanted intrusive images, thoughts or impulses which are accompanied by feelings of anxiety, disgust or discomfort. The list of OCD obsessions is extensive and individuals are usually plagued by more than one obsession. Some of the most common obsessions relate to themes of aggression, contamination, sex, religion, harm/danger, superstition and perfectionism. There are two types of obsessions: autonomous and reactive.
Compulsions are the behaviors, rituals or mental acts that are done to neutralize or reduce the anxiety. Compulsions can occur mentally and in the form of a behavior or ritual.
Behavioral/Physical Compulsions: examples Include:
Mental operations which are done to alleviate discomfort or ward off a threat. While some are easily recognizable, some mental compulsions are not easy to spot, and you may not even realize they are happening. The two main types of mental compulsions are suppressing and engaging.
Individuals who struggle with OCD are caught in a vicious cycle. Compulsions, while temporarily reducing distress/anxiety, paradoxically, serve to reinforce and strengthen OCD symptoms over time. This cycle is represented below:
Exposure & Ritual Prevention (ERP):
The aim of ERP is to provide you with new knowledge that (a) obsessional fears are much less probable or severe than predicted (b) anxiety and obsessional thoughts themselves are safe and tolerable, and (c) compulsive rituals are not necessary for your safety or to tolerate anxiety. In simple terms, ERP encourages face your obsessional fears while you resist the urge to engage in compulsions to relieve your anxiety.
Understandably, the thought of doing ERP may sound very frightening for an individual suffering with OCD. However, ERP is best administered with the support of an OCD Therapist who can prepare and guide you as you start your exposure work. The benefits of doing ERP are that the thoughts, feelings and physical sensations can become more tolerable over time.
If you are struggling with OCD, reach out and contact us today