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Treatments for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

People with an obsession are gripped by thoughts of something they can’t let go of. If a person finds themselves compelled to behave repeatedly in a certain way, it is called having a compulsion. Put these together in the one person to the extreme and you get Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – a chronic mental health condition. For many, it is a debilitating disability, but the good news is it can be treated.

No one knows what causes the condition, but the good news is there are many treatments for obsessive compulsive disorder which can help alleviate and even cure this mental state that is said to be one of the most common of all psychiatric illnesses found in both adults and children.

Unlike some people who derive pleasure from their “healthy” obsessions, people with OCD gain no satisfaction from theirs at all because for them obsessive compulsive disorder is an anxiety disorder based on intense fear. People with OCD might have an obsessive fear of being contaminated by germs, or are plagued by sexually explicit or violent thoughts, or are obsessive about the way things have to line-up and be symmetrically perfect. This can lead to compulsive behavior such as excessively and repeatedly washing hands or cleaning clothes, double-checking of locks, or switches, or hiding things that they think they might use to cause harm to someone, or finding they having to collect items that they are never going to use. For many, obsessive compulsive disorder is a way of life that affects them every day therefore causing them great distress, and anxiety making “normal” daily living a nightmare.

When it comes to thoughts of harming people, it is rare that anyone with OCD actually engages in any acts of violence. It’s the obsessive thought that they might that causes them the distress, and they do everything they can to make sure that will never happen.

But what can happen is OCD can be tackled, and be beaten, and there are many treatments for obsessive compulsive disorder-sufferers to try. These range from therapy to self-help to medication. But currently, the treatment proven to be the most effective is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. There are two aspects to this therapy – Exposure and Response Prevention and Cognitive Therapy. The first involves the person with OCD begin repeatedly exposed to the source of their obsession. They are then encouraged to resist embarking on the compulsive behavior that would follow as their normal response to lessen the anxiety caused by their obsessive thoughts. For instance, someone who was obsessed about cleanliness and hygiene, and was a compulsive hand-washer, might be asked to touch a door handle in a public toilet, and then be asked to refrain from washing their hands; the idea being that the longer that person with OCD has to wait, the better, for the compulsion to wash their hands will eventually pass as they wait and meet their anxiety head-on. This method has been thoroughly investigated by researchers who have discovered that the brain can be “re-programmed” through Exposure and Response Prevention thus reducing obsessive compulsive disorder, sometimes permanently.

Treatments for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Through Cognitive Therapy, ODC-sufferers are encouraged to concentrate on alternative ways to deal with their obsessive thoughts other than embarking on the compulsive behavior that is blighting their lives.

Other treatments for obsessive compulsive disorder include family therapy, group therapy, and medication. In family therapy, those close to the loved one who has OCD are given a better understanding of the disorder, and shown ways to support the affected family member. The support of family members is vital to the OCD-sufferer, and they can help in many ways, for example by not seeing the affected loved on as having character flaws, or by criticizing them, or participating in their compulsive rituals. They can even mix humor with caring, but with respect, as people with OCD are often all too aware how ridiculous their behavior is. Having a laugh about their obsessive compulsiveness can help the sufferer become more detached from the symptoms. Family can also help by keeping stress low in the home, or other domestic situations, as stress is the primary cause of the disorder.

Similarly, group therapy can be a useful way for OCD-sufferers to face their disorder by working with fellow sufferers, through sharing, supporting, and encouraging others to alleviate the distress, and anxiety. If working at the problem in isolation, self-help is another possible avenue for a cure, and through education, and understanding improvement can be successful.

Medication is also used as a way of helping those with OCD, but it is well documented that medication alone is not as effective as cognitive behavior therapy, and other forms of psychotherapy.

In conclusion, anyone being diagnosed with OCD will quickly be introduced to a variety of treatments for obsessive compulsive disorder, making it possible for the condition to be faced and overcome with time, and effort.

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