“Are you really so OCD?”

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is referred to often in order to explain someone that is either neat and orderly or particular about a certain aspect of their life. Individuals with a diagnoses of OCD know that the disorder is much more than wanting to have your house look a certain way or liking your clothes organized in the closet.                     

People with OCD suffer with for significant periods of time during the day with thoughts, images or impulses that are scary and upsetting. These images, don’t quite fit with their personality or reflect anything that they actually wish to happen, however, the mere presense of the thought is strong enough to invoke a strong fear that what they are thinking about may actually happen. In response to the thought, individuals with OCD then engage in behaviors or mental tricks to avoid the thought and attempt to push away the fear associated with the thought. These behaviors or mental tricks, also known as compulsions or rituals, cause distress, interfere with work, family, and friends, and take up a large portion of time.

OCD is commonly portrayed as someone fearing germs, liking things neat, and washing their hands. Sometimes OCD does look that way, however, most of the time people with OCD have thoughts that can be very disturbing and compulsions can go far beyond hand washing. 

Luckily, there are effective treatments for OCD, such as medication and Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy. Medications typically include Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors. Exposure and Response Prevention  (EX/RP) is a therapy aimed at addressing the fears in a way the person feels they can tolerate without the need for compulsions. EX/RP is often a time limited therapy (15-20 sessions) aimed at making the client an expert in anxiety. Clients typically get relief early on in treatment and the positive effects of treatment are long term.

 For more information on effective treatment for OCD, questions to ask potential providers and strategies to get reimbursed by insurance visit iocdf.org.

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