The term OCD is often misused to describe people who are neat and orderly. And while those who are clinically diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder may, indeed, be tidy, it’s much more than that.
OCD sufferers have intense thoughts and images running through their minds constantly, such as doing something in exactly the right way, fear of being contaminated, or fear of losing control, to name just a few of its many manifestations. These thoughts are unwanted, irrational, and unstoppable. These are obsessions.
The response to these obsessive thoughts is to counteract or neutralize them. This might take the form of repetitive hand washing if you’re afraid of germs, or constantly checking and rechecking facts to make sure you got it right and won’t forget, and yes, cleaning things that are already clean. These are compulsions.
Dr. Hina Sidhu at Revîv Functional Psychiatry & TMS Wellness Center in Fullerton, California, helps many of her patients throughout Southern California understand this psychological disorder and offers treatment options that help reduce symptoms and learn to live peacefully with OCD. Read on to learn about a few of the many treatment options.
Fortunately, there are some effective medications used to treat OCD. One in particular called serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SRI) is highly successful. Traditionally, this drug is used to treat depression, which makes it ideal for OCD patients who also suffer from depression, a common occurrence.
Not all antidepressants are created equal, though, so don’t assume your current medication will serve both purposes. Dr. Sidhu completes a thorough examination and prescribes the best treatment for you.
It’s important to remember that everyone responds differently to medications, and it may take a few tries before landing on the one that works for you. But those who do respond well to medication report that their symptoms improve by 40%-60%.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is another great way to treat your OCD. CBT is an umbrella term that mental health professionals use to describe various approaches to different mental health disorders. So it is important to understand that not all of them are effective for OCD patients. For instance, traditional talk therapy focuses on making you aware of your behavior and helping you understand it. But OCD sufferers already know their obsessive thoughts are irrational. You don’t need insight, you need help changing your response.
Exposure and response prevention (ERP) can be very successful in helping you retrain your brain to respond differently when your OCD is triggered. The thought of intentionally exposing yourself to things that set off your OCD may make you anxious, but when successful, the result is freedom from those controlling, obsessive thoughts and your involuntary compulsive responses.
In addition to treatments we offer here at Revîv Functional Psychiatry & TMS Wellness Center, we also believe strongly in the power of your own mind and body when it comes to dealing with OCD. The healthier your mind and body are, the more responsive you will be to medical and psychological treatments if they’re needed. Here are a few steps you can take to help yourself cope with OCD.
Stress can trigger OCD, and OCD can trigger stress. So, clearly, it’s a good idea to reduce the stress in your life if you have OCD. It’s different for everyone, but here are some of the tried and true ways to add peace and calm to your life:
Take a good look at your lifestyle and daily activities and eliminate anything that is unnecessary or adds undue worry or stress. Practice saying “no” and keeping your routine structured.
A healthy body is a powerful tool in the OCD toolbox. Aerobic activity strengthens your heart, helps keep your weight down, and has countless other medical benefits, one of which is reducing OCD symptoms and frequency.
Exercises like running, swimming, and cycling release endorphins in your body that reduce stress and anxiety — a huge plus if you’re battling OCD. Known as the “feel good” neurochemical, endorphins can boost your mood and help you stave off OCD flare-ups.
If you have OCD and are still struggling with controlling your symptoms, Dr. Sidhu can help. Give us a call or book an appointment online to get started.