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Living with
OCD.

A brief overview of OCD, a mental disorder that is incredibly complex, multifaceted and all-consuming.

Obsession
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What is

OBSessive

compulsive

Disorder?

OCD is a mental health disorder that is incredibly complex, multifaceted and all-consuming. It’s characterized by a number of errors in thinking called cognitive distortions that can lead to an endless cycle of obsessions and compulsions. It affects people of all ages, taking over all areas of their lives and challenging their beliefs.

Cognitive

Distortions

An Error In

Thinking

A cognitive distortion is defined as a faulty or inaccurate thought pattern involved in the onset or perpetuation of psychopathological states. The most common cognitive distortions associated with OCD are:

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Exaggerated responsibility beliefs

This cognitive distortion will push people affected to take misplaced responsibility because of an intrusive thought that they had and will make them take steps (compulsions) to minimize the chances that intrusive thought will come to life.

Thought-action fusion

Just as the name suggest, the thought and the action are fussed together. People affected by this cognitive distortion belief that just by thinking a thought, they will be pushed to do the action.

Inflated need for certainty

This is a common theme in anxiety disorders. People who experience an increased need for certainty, when facing even the slightest amount of uncertainty, have a disproportionate response and engage in compulsive behaviors.

Overestimated danger and consequences

In this situation, people affected will overestimate the threat associated with an event or intrusive thought and will underestimate their capacity to deal which such threat triggering avoidance.

Exaggerated responsibility beliefs

This cognitive distortion will push people affected to take misplaced responsibility because of an intrusive thought that they had and will make them take steps (compulsions) to minimize the chances that intrusive thought will come to life.

Thought-action fusion

Just as the name suggest, the thought and the action are fussed together. People affected by this cognitive distortion belief that just by thinking a thought, they will be pushed to do the action.

Inflated need for certainty

This is a common theme in anxiety disorders. People who experience an increased need for certainty, when facing even the slightest amount of uncertainty, have a disproportionate response and engage in compulsive behaviors.

Overestimated danger and consequences

In this situation, people affected will overestimate the threat associated with an event or intrusive thought and will underestimate their capacity to deal which such threat triggering avoidance.

THE VICIOUS CYCLE OF

OBSESSIONS

COMPULSIONS

OBSESSIONS

Obsessions are frequently recurring, unwanted “intrusive thoughts” that trigger extreme anxiety that gets in the way of day-to-day life.

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01.

Contamination

This common OCD subtype is defined by a person intense fear of germs, getting sick or spreading illness that triggers anxiety and distress.

02.

Perfectionism

Also called “Just right OCD”, this subtype refers to ongoing intrusive thoughts around organization, symmetry, perfection, written or verbal communication, physical sensation, and making things “just right”.

03.

Losing Control

Fear of acting out in OCD is the fear of making unwanted behavioral decisions that results in harm to yourself or others. The most common obsessions are related to aggression, sexuality, religion and morality.

04.

Harm

Harm OCD causes intrusive aggressive thoughts to harm oneself or others which makes this OCD subtype especially confusing and frightening. People with harm OCD fear losing their identity and sense of self and acting on their impulses.

COMPULSIONS

Compulsions are repetitive behaviors or thoughts used with the intention of neutralizing, counteracting, or making obsessions go away.

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01.

Cleaning

For those struggling with contamination OCD, compulsions manifest as obsessive cleaning as a way to stave off anxiety and fear.

02.

Organizing

Common with Perfectionism OCD, this compulsive behavior manifest as the urge to repetitively arrange, organize, or line up of objects until the end result feels "just right."

03.

Mental Rituals

People experiencing mental compulsions are usually trying to cope with thoughts that they deem unacceptable, either religious, sexual, or harming.

04.

Checking

A common compulsion, checking in OCD is the urge to check things repeatedly or perform routines for at least an hour each day as a way to relief anxiety and make obsessions go away.

What is

the cause

of OCD

While the exact cause of OCD is not yet known, research points toward biological and genetic theories involving brain abnormalities and differences in genes. Studies of the serotonin system, a faulty brain circuit incapable of turning off impulses and cognitive behavioral theories are also gaining traction.

There’s a whole world of people out there who are tortured by their thoughts, afraid to get help and unable to tell even their own families. This is what it’s really like to live with OCD.

James Lloyd, BBC Science Focus

RECOVERY

OPTIONS

and

GOALS

Each OCD case is unique and many people experience symptoms that transcend subtypes and categories. Depending on the complexity of each case, a trained therapist will create a treatment plan that can include psychotherapy and/or pharmacotherapy.

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PSYCHOTHERAPY

Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), specifically exposure and response prevention (ERP), is considered the gold standard and the most effective treatment method for OCD.

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PHARMACOTHERAPY

Medication can be an effective treatment for OCD. It can only be prescribed by a licensed medical professional and should be part of a treatment plan created together with a trained therapist.

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SELF HELP

Learning to live with OCD looks different for every person. While only trained therapists can diagnose and treat OCD, there are little changes that might help with breaking the obsession compulsion cycle.

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Real Stories

Disclaimer: This is an informational website. It’s not meant to be used as a diagnostic or treatment tool. OCD can only be diagnosed and treated by trained therapists.