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The pandemic has been very trying for people with OCD. But there’s help.
For people who struggle with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), the past 18 months have been tough. Many people with OCD have major issues with germs, so it is easy to see the connection. The obsessive fear of germs spills over to fear of getting Covid, and that can lead to the compulsive acts that follow.
OCD isn’t only about a fear of germs, though. People with OCD may battle intense fears of burning down the house or about disturbing thoughts. The patterns are the same. The fear-based thoughts lead to dysfunctional behaviors as a way of dealing with anxiety.
Treatment for OCD can be obtained in an outpatient setting or a residential setting. Here we will discuss residential OCD treatment.
What is OCD?
OCD is a mental health disorder that affects about 1.2% of U.S. adults. OCD features cycles of obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors. Obsessions may revolve around a fear, perfectionism, disgust, or something they feel can’t be controlled. The compulsions that result are efforts made to reduce the anxious feelings that the disordered thoughts cause. This sets in motion a pattern of thoughts and actions that cause the person great distress.
Some of the more common types of obsessions revolve around:
- Fear of germs.
- Fear of some dangerous event, such as setting the house on fire.
- Forbidden sexual thoughts.
- Perfectionism, exact placement of items.
Some of the more common types of compulsions include:
- Washing hands, cleaning, reduced physical contact.
- Checking, such as checking that the lights are turned off or the oven is off, over and over.
- Repeating routine actions, like going in and out of a door, tapping, touching, or blinking.
- Placing items in a certain way.
OCD can cause so much distress that the person’s life is affected on all fronts. Some who struggle with OCD may isolate themselves to avoid triggers that would expose the problem in public.
It isn’t fully known what causes OCD. Research suggests that there is a problem in the neural pathways between the frontal lobe and deeper brain structures. There is also some data that OCD has is genetic, as it seems to run in families.
Types of OCD
Here are some of the common pairings of the distorted thoughts and actions that follow:
- Contamination fears and cleaning compulsions. Obsessions around germs can lead to repeated hand washing or cleaning actions.
- Harming fears with checking compulsions. This pattern is driven by fear of danger, or harm to oneself or others. They will rely on checking rituals to relieve this fear.
- Symmetry obsessions with ordering compulsions. An need for order and symmetry drive behaviors that include ordering, arranging, and counting.
- Obsessions that have no visible compulsions. Distorted and irrational thoughts plague them. It often involves sexual, violent, or religious themes or fears. Compulsive silent mental rituals, such as reciting words, prayer, or counting, are not seen by others.
- Hoarding. Obsessive fear about losing important papers or items will drive the hoarding of mail, magazines, and random items or junk.
Exposure and Response Therapy for Intrusive Thoughts
One treatment method that helps OCD is called exposure and response prevention, or ERP. ERP is a type of CBT that involves slowly exposing the patient to the intrusive thoughts. This way they learn to face the thoughts head on in small stages. By stating the thoughts out loud to the therapist, much of the power of the thoughts is reduced.
In ERP, the “exposure” aspect refers to the voicing of the intrusive thoughts. The “response prevention” refers to the mindful choice not to engage in the compulsive behavior once the obsession is triggered. The person must make a choice to not give in to the compulsions that would follow.
For the first few weeks of ERP, a therapist guides the patient through the steps of exposure and non-response. After that, the person will be given tools to conduct ERP on their own.
Help for OCD
Treating OCD is very much like treating other anxiety disorders. Treatment involves both drugs and therapy as the main protocols. CBT can help those who struggle with OCD to confront their thoughts and then reframe them. ERP helps patients to diminish the power of the obsessive fears, and works well with CBT.
Antidepressants have been shown to help people with OCD by helping to balance brain chemistry. While antidepressants with therapy are the core treatment for OCD, family therapy and acceptance and commitment therapy are also helpful.
OCD Residential Treatment
When someone struggling with OCD first seeks treatment, they will usually be treated on an outpatient basis. Medication will be determined by how severe the symptoms are. The mental health expert will also look for any co-occurring mental health disorders, such as depression. Medications that have been shown to help improve the symptoms of OCD include Prozac, Paxil, Anafranil, and Zoloft.
If the symptoms worsen, though, the person may need a higher level of care. This is where a residential mental health program is very helpful. These programs provide a safe place for working on the OCD with no outside distractions. Treatment plans are highly tailored to take into account each person’s unique challenges. There are other activities at the inpatient center that also enhance the treatment. These might include things like art therapy or yoga.
Whether you have mild OCD or a more severe case, there is help for you. Don’t suffer in silence when there are people and programs out there to help you manage your OCD.
Mental Health Hope Provides Guidance for OCD Treatment
Mental Health Hope offers free guidance and mental health information for people struggling with a mental health challenge. Our helpful team will guide you to the proper treatment setting for your OCD. If you or a loved one is having a hard time with OCD, why not check out the best treatment options? Call us today at (877) 967-9274.