Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder that causes people to become trapped in a cycle of obsessions and compulsions that affect their ability to live freely. While anxiety disorders as a whole affect a great many people, OCD is among the most commonly diagnosed. The good news is that, with treatment, people can begin to manage their anxiety and lead full, healthy lives.
We offer specialized mental health disorders treatment tailored to each individual’s needs at New Direction Mental Health. Our clinicians have extensive training and experience in treating obsessive-compulsive disorder through evidenced-based practices such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), exposure and response prevention (ERP), and medication management. Our OCD treatment program aims to help people identify their triggers, develop coping skills, and learn how to manage their anxiety. If you are searching for OCD treatment for yourself or a loved one, contact us at 724.374.7414 to learn more about treatment options.
What Is OCD?
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is categorized as an anxiety disorder. Like other anxiety disorders, people with OCD have an intense or overwhelming reaction to things people who aren’t affected wouldn’t think twice about. There are two major components of OCD: obsessions and compulsions.
Obsessions are recurrent, intrusive thoughts or sensations. For example, these can be thoughts of a burglar breaking into a person’s home or dangerous germs crawling over their skin. Compulsions are repetitive actions that people with OCD are driven to complete due to their obsessions. These behaviors include locking and relocking the front door or devoting an extreme amount of time to cleaning.
Some common fixations people with OCD might experience include:
- Contamination – From bodily fluids, germs, dirt, chemicals, etc.
- Losing control – Acting on an impulse to harm themself or others, stealing things, blurting out obscenities or other comments
- Harm – Intentionally doing something that hurts others or failing to be careful
- Perfectionism – Concern about precision or exactness, evenness, losing or forgetting things
- Unwanted sexual thoughts – Perverse, forbidden, or aggressive sexual thoughts that cause distress
- Religious – Fear of offending God, concern with ethics or morality
- Superstitions – Related to lucky or unlucky numbers, objects, dates, etc.
Fixating on these thoughts and behaviors can cause significant stress and have a tremendous impact on a person’s life. Someone with OCD might have trouble completing daily activities like making breakfast, going to the store, or interacting with others as a result of their obsessions and compulsions. To be considered for a diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive disorder, a person must be experiencing obsessive thoughts and compulsive behavior for an hour or more every day. Another key component of the diagnosis is that a person with OCD experiences anxiety due to their fixations.
What Isn't OCD?
For decades, pop culture has helped establish many stereotypes about obsessive-compulsive disorder. People who are very meticulous or keep their spaces very clean might sometimes even be heard uttering an apology or explanation to the effect of, “Sorry, just my OCD acting up again.” Many people have routines and are particular about certain aspects of their lives. This is normal.
However, obsessive-compulsive disorder is when routines become so disruptive that they make it hard to manage daily life. An organized person organizes their desk, but a person with OCD spends so much time and emotional energy fixating on the state of their desk that they may be unable to leave their house to go to work, shop for groceries, or keep in touch with loved ones.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of OCD?
The symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder can be traced back to the two primary components of the disorder: obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors. Obsessions and compulsions can look very different from person to person. Fixating on obsessions and compulsions can cause symptoms such as:
- Panic attacks
- Avoiding triggers
- Guilt or stress over compulsive behaviors
- Disturbing intrusive thoughts or images
- Repeatedly checking things
- Constantly seeking reassurance or approval
- Extreme concern with order or cleanliness
If you or a loved one is exhibiting any of these signs and symptoms, it might be time to consider seeking help from a mental health professional.
What Can Cause OCD?
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a complex condition. There are a variety of risk factors that make individuals more or less susceptible to developing OCD. Research suggests that the most prominent risk factors for obsessive-compulsive disorder are genetic and biological.
Studies involving identical twins and the immediate families of people with obsessive-compulsive disorder have suggested that genetic risk factors play a major role in whether or not a person is at risk of developing OCD. However, research has not identified a single gene that causes OCD. Instead, there are different versions or alleles of several genes that may contribute to a person’s OCD risk.
Our bodies rely on several biochemicals to function properly. Early research suggests that the neurotransmitter serotonin, which also impacts the risk of an individual developing depression or generalized anxiety, may play a role in OCD risk as well.
A genetic predisposition towards a specific mental health disorder does not necessarily mean it will develop. People who develop OCD can experience environmental factors that also impact their mental health. Prenatal weight gain, difficult labor, traumatic events, and abuse are all linked to OCD risk.
What's Involved in Treatment for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?
Like any complex disorder, treating OCD involves working with a mental health professional to develop a plan based on a patient’s unique situation. Treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder might include:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy – Talk therapy focuses on teaching participants strategies for altering their behavior.
- Exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy – Involves exposure to triggers in a controlled environment to alter a participant’s perception of the trigger.
- Medication – Can help alleviate symptoms and address the biological roots of obsessive-compulsive disorder.
- Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) therapy – Is an FDA-approved treatment for OCD and other mental health conditions that involves stimulating certain parts of the brain with magnetic pulses to promote healing.
Understanding options for OCD treatment is the first step in finding a path towards recovery. If you or someone you love is struggling with OCD, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. New Direction Mental Health is here for you.
Benefits of an OCD Treatment Program
An OCD treatment program is an invaluable part of recovery for those struggling with obsessive-compulsive disorder. The program can help individuals:
- Gain control over unwanted intrusive thoughts and behaviors
- Manage anxiety and distress levels
- Create healthier coping skills
With the right treatment plan, people can learn to identify triggers better, understand their unique behaviors, and develop skills to confront potential problems in the future. Participating in a specialized OCD treatment program can aid in creating a more independent and hopeful outlook on life while becoming more socially influential overall. Don’t hesitate to get yourself or someone you care about the help they need.
Contact New Directions Mental Health for OCD Treatment in Pennsylvania
At New Directions Mental Health, we help people in our communities access life-changing mental health care. We are among the best-established mental health practices in the Southwestern PA area and have served our community for nearly 50 years. Our services are tailored to suit all kinds of people, including couples, individuals, young adults, children, and teens, in addition to everyone else. We have crafted an array of offerings that will perfectly meet the needs of any person.
If you believe that you are experiencing an anxiety disorder like OCD, contact us today at 724.374.7414 to learn what our compassionate care providers can do for you.