Where to Begin:
Whether you or someone you love has been diagnosed with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), or if you think you may be experiencing OCD, we understand navigating treatment options and finding support can seem overwhelming. Our mission is to help you and your loved ones find evidence-based information and resources. We have an extensive library of educational videos and content developed by OCD experts, and we are excited for you to learn and hopefully benefit from the resources we provide through this website. You are never alone. Hope and help are always available.
What is OCD?
If you are unfamiliar with OCD, start by learning the basics. OCD is a combination of unwanted intrusive thoughts or images (obsessions) followed by repetitive behaviors (compulsions) completed in an attempt to relieve the anxiety caused by the obsessions. Rituals and compulsions may greatly interfere with day-to-day functioning and interpersonal relationships.
Don’t have a Diagnosis?
Start with an assessment where a trained mental health provider can diagnose OCD and/or other disorders. If you suspect that you or a loved one has OCD, consider starting with a full psychological assessment for a proper diagnosis and care options for your symptoms. The Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (Y-BOCS) is a standardized rating scale for assessing OCD symptom severity and can be used as an additional tool in your diagnosis. Once diagnosed with OCD, it is critical that you engage in therapy with a provider trained to treat OCD. Once a treatment plan has been developed by your provider, ask questions, and ensure the treatment plan contains the gold standard treatment, Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy (ERP).
Experiencing Intrusive Thoughts?
It’s important to understand that everyone has weird or unusual thoughts. A study showed that 79% of individuals in a nonclinical sample reported experiencing unwanted and unacceptable intrusive thoughts and impulses (Rachman & De Silva, 1978). However, individuals with OCD often experience extreme distress and anxiety from these thoughts or images and often engage in behaviors to try to eliminate these thoughts. A more recent study explained that while these thoughts are common, they become problematic when they cause distress, fear and guilt for the individual (Radomsky et al., 2013). These thoughts may surround the fear of committing an act one considers to be harmful, violent, immoral, sexually inappropriate, or sacrilegious. These thoughts are unwanted with no intent to act on them and bring no pleasure, causing extreme distress. Individuals engage in rituals (compulsions) in an attempt to relieve the anxiety caused by unwanted images or thoughts. To learn more about intrusive thoughts and to continue to read about the various subtypes of OCD see below:
Types of OCD:
OCD looks different from person-to-person and symptoms can wax and wane throughout an individual’s life. However, many different types of OCD are commonly experienced. An individual may experience one or more subtypes throughout their journey. Learning about the different subtypes can help to identify triggers and develop exposure techniques.
Counting and Checking are often performed to address obsessive and fearful thoughts or to prevent something bad from happening. It can be associated with avoiding danger or achieving a feeling of symmetry and exactness. Learn more.
Germs and Contamination are often the fear of harm coming to themselves or a loved one as a result of becoming contaminated, contaminating others, or obtaining an illness. Others experience contamination fear in the form of emotional disgust, unable to tolerate the experience of disgust or distress. Learn more.
Harm Intrusive Thoughts consist of unwanted thoughts or images that one might harm themselves or someone else on impulse. Individuals within this OCD subtype have no intent to hurt themselves or others and the intrusive thought or image often causes a significant amount of anxiety and disturbance for these individuals. Learn more.
Sexual Intrusive Thoughts consist of unwanted intrusive thoughts, the imagery of sexual behaviors or actions that the individual does not desire, the fear of committing a harmful sexual act, or being sexually aggressive. Learn more.
Magical Thinking is often feeling overly responsible for the safety and well-being of themselves and others. This expanded sense of responsibility is associated with the belief that one’s thoughts, actions, words, or wishes can alter the course of events in the physical world. Learn more.
Perfectionism or ‘Just Right’ is often an overpowering internal sense that the balance, order, place, frequency, or position of something is disturbed and must be corrected. Individuals with just right OCD might find themselves repeating actions until it feels “just right”. Learn more.
Postpartum OCD can involve a myriad of obsessions and compulsions, but most commonly involves contamination, scrupulosity, aggressive thoughts, and other unwanted thoughts. Intrusive thoughts may be centered around the baby and involve fears that one might intentionally harm the baby or accidentally allow harm to come to the baby. Learn more.
Relationship OCD is often unwanted thoughts about whether they love their partner, friend, or family member enough, or if that person loves or values them back. Relationship OCD can also center around doubts of the relationship and if the person is “the one”. OCD tends to target things that are important to a person, and often OCD will target a persons’ relationships. Learn more.
Somatic OCD is when a person hyper-focuses on neutral physical stimuli. For instance, a person may hyper-focus on their blinking and fear that they would never be able to stop noticing their blinking. They may also hyper-focus on the bodily functions of others and fear that they will not be able to stop noticing. Gone unchecked, this fear will continue to grow until it consumes a significant portion of a person’s day. Learn more.
Finding the proper care for OCD is crucial. Untreated OCD can worsen over time causing difficulty to function daily and in severe cases, individuals can become disabled. Regardless of the type of OCD experienced, Exposure with Response Prevention (ERP) is the goal standard for treating OCD. Medication is often used in combination with ERP. When looking for a provider, you will want to make sure the provider specializes in OCD and has background in ERP treatment. If possible, finding a psychiatrist who has background or specialty in treating OCD is also preferred.
Levels of Treatment:
Depending on symptom severity, specialized OCD treatment ranges from outpatient visits to residential care. When working with an OCD provider, you can develop the best treatment plan for you or your loved one. Learn more.
Navigating Treatment Cost:
When searching for an OCD provider or specialty program, it is important to understand your mental health benefits, how to work with your insurance company and other low-cost options that are available to you. Learn more.
Self-help tools for OCD can be helpful throughout your treatment journey. From building a support network to working on developing coping strategies for your symptoms, there are a wide variety of options. Self-help does not replace therapy but can often be used as a guide and act as a supportive role in maintaining your progress and achieving your goals.
If you are a caregiver of someone who suffers from OCD, you are not alone and help is available. Your loved one can have a successful fulfilling life despite an OCD diagnosis. Explore our website and resources for more information about OCD. OCD impacts the entire family and we are here to help. We want to encourage you to visit the following pages:
Making a connection with others who are impacted by OCD provides a sense of community, and lets you know you are not alone in this struggle. You can gain valuable insight, practical ideas, and education from experts and other OCD families in your area. There are many ways to get involved with the OCD community through events, community groups, awareness campaigns, and more.
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