Treatments For Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

November 12, 2012

Treatments For Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a very helpful tool in managing symptoms of OCD. Occasionally the use of antidepressants can be used alongside cognitive behavioral therapy, but taking medicine alone seldom helps in alleviating the symptoms of OCD.

There are two parts involved in Cognitive behavioral therapy for OCD:

Exposure and response prevention consists of constant exposure to the root of the obsessive behavior. You will be asked to avoid taking part in the compulsive behavior you would normally do to lessen your anxiety. If you are always washing your hands, you could be asked to face one of your fears, e.g. touching a door handle in a public restroom and then not being allowed to wash your hands. Sitting with the anxiety and wanting to wash your hands will slowly start to go away. By doing this you begin to realize you don’t need to carry out the ritual behaviors for the anxiety to dissipate – you do have power over the obsessive thoughts and compulsive behavior you experience.

Cognitive behavioral therapy concentrates on the calamitous views and thoughts and the inflated feeling of responsibility you experience. One of the main aims of cognitive therapy is to learn more constructive ways of reacting to the obsessive thoughts you experience without taking part in the compulsive behavior.

The author of Brain Lock: Free Yourself from Obsessive-Compulsive Behavioral, Psychiatrist Jeffrey Schwartz, suggests the following four courses of action:

“RELABEL – Recognize that the intrusive obsessive thoughts and urges are the result of OCD. RATTRIBUTE – Realize that the intensity and intrusiveness of the thought or urge is caused by OCD; it is probably related to a biochemical imbalance in the brain. REFOCUS – Work around the OCD thoughts by focusing your attention on something else, at least for a few minutes. REVALUE – Do not take the OCD thought at face value. It is not significant in itself”.

To help with carrying out the above action plan start to try and rewire the thoughts within your brain. The first point of “relabel”, try telling yourself: I think my behavior is obsessive as I really don’t think my hands are dirty, and I know the need to constantly wash my hands is also compulsive behavior. The second course of action, ‘reattribute’, remind yourself you are receiving thoughts which are not based on any truth and of no consequence, it’s because you have OCD. The third point “refocus” requires you to concentrate on doing another task, even for a few minutes. Tell yourself: this is another indication of OCD, I will do something else. Lastly, “revalue”, remind yourself you have OCD but it doesn’t mean you have to act on the messages your brain is sending, you don’t have to acknowledge the message but neither can you make it disappear, so try and train yourself to move to another type of behavior.

OCD disturbs not just the sufferer, but the whole family can be disrupted and anxious, and therefore family therapy sessions can be useful. When the family gains knowledge of the disorder this lessens disagreements and tension within the family. By understanding the nature of OCD, family members are encouraged to help the person.

Group therapy with other people who suffer OCD offers assistance, encouragement, and because you are with other people in the same situation your sense of loneliness lessens.

OCD is classed as an anxiety disorder which means various therapies which treat other forms of anxiety are useful in treatment for OCD.

Other tips to help yourself:

Question the obsessive thoughts and the compulsive behaviors and try to change your thought process and apply yourself to something else which you enjoy for about 15 minutes in an attempt to postpone your reaction to the obsessive or compulsive thoughts. Once you have distracted yourself for 15 minutes have a look again at the craving felt and it may be the compulsion is not as powerful. The longer you put off acting on the urge; there is a better chance of change.

Keep a worry diary to note down your thoughts and when the obsessive/compulsive behavior occurs you will have an accurate record of what your thoughts were at the time. By keeping a written note you will see in black and white how often you are repeating the obsessive behavior and by repeating yourself in your writing the words seem less powerful. It takes time and effort to keep writing down your thoughts therefore the obsessive thoughts you experience are liable to diminish and disappear quicker.

Think ahead to your behavior. If you have to constantly check your door has been locked or the iron has been switched off, be much more aware of what you are doing when switching them off the first time and if the thought comes into your head later you have the picture in your head and you can put the behavior down to OCD.

Allocate one or two periods of 10 minutes during the day for you to sit and just worry about all the obsessions and compulsions. Stick to the same time and place. Don’t make it near time for bed. After your allocated worry time is over, breathe calmly and put the thoughts away and go back to your own activities. Should the obsessive thoughts and/or compulsions appear, when it’s not worry time, take a note of them and delay thinking about them. During your worry time have a look at the previous thoughts written and if they still worry you think about them, but only at this time. Another alternative is to tape yourself talking about whatever is on your mind. Listen to yourself again and again for 45 minutes each day until you are no longer feeling distressed. Confronting your worries tends to decrease the anxiety.

Maintaining healthy eating and lifestyle helps to decrease the behavior, worries and fear associated with OCD. Always have breakfast and eat meals little and often because long gaps between eating can cause low blood sugar, which in turn can cause anxiety. Carbohydrates maintain the stability of blood sugar and raises serotonin levels.

Take part in aerobic exercise for about 30 minutes per day to help alleviate tension and stress. It also increases physical and mental energy.

Alcoholic drinks may temporarily lessen anxiety and worry but once the effects wear off produces anxiety. Nicotine acts as a stimulant which again can lead to more anxiety.

Anxiety and worry may make you unable to sleep but it is very important to rest well as sleep is very important in keeping these at bay. Keeping your emotions stable plays an important part in dealing with OCD.

It is essential to keep in touch with family and friends when you suffer from OCD as this disorder can make you feel lonely and isolated and the more you remain in touch with other people, you will feel less alone. Being able to communicate your worries to others is of benefit as this helps to reduce the anxiety.

Many people suffer with OCD and taking part in a support group lets you know you are not alone with your experiences and by finding out about what other OCD sufferers experience enable you to both share your own experiences and learn from others who are facing the same problems.

Gather as much information as you can about OCD if you know someone who suffers from this disorder and let them know about what you have learned. By letting a family member or friend know OCD can be treated can be the motivation for them to look for help. Your reaction to finding out a friend or loved one has OCD is very important (patience and kindness necessary). Remaining unruffled and offering support allows the OCD sufferer to respond well to treatment. Offering comments of a negative nature or criticicism can worsen the symptoms of OCD. Sufferers of OCD are individuals in their own right, therefore will solve their worries at a rate which suits them. OCD is the disorder and is not the fault of the person suffering.

Do not put pressure on the person suffering from OCD by attempting to stop them carrying out the ritual behavioral. It is not possible for the sufferer to stop and they will feel more pressure. Congratulate the person if they are trying to refuse to go along with the behavior associated with OCD.

Be supportive but do not act along with the ritual behavioral as this will only strengthen this type of behavior.

Make an agreement with the family and the person with OCD that it is not always at the forefront. Agree a plan on how the family will support one another and work together, and also maintain normality.

Communication is central in maintaining the balance of not allowing the OCD to take over and offering support so as not to upset your family member. If you’re loved one has a sense of humor and can see how irrational OCD is, the humor can help the sufferer to remove themselves from the disorder.


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