How to Find Help Treating Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder involving intrusive and reoccurring thoughts and actions.
Understanding Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders
The thoughts, or obsessions, that characterize OCD can sometimes take the form of images or impulses, and they can cause overwhelming anxiety in the sufferer. Repetitive behaviors, aimed at reducing the anxiety, are characteristic of the disorder and can become very time-consuming and demanding. The day-to-day functioning of those with OCD can be severely impacted as a result. People suffering from OCD realize these thoughts aren’t based on reality and their actions are excessive or senseless, but they’re often powerless to resist them.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 1 percent of the adult population of the United States suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder, and about 50.6 percent of these cases are considered severe. Call if you need help finding treatment options for obsessive-compulsive disorder.
How to Diagnose OCD
OCD is usually diagnosed after a series of medical tests and psychological exams. After a general exam, your doctor could send you to a specialist for further testing. Because many of the symptoms of OCD are similar to those of generalized anxiety disorder, schizophrenia or other mental illnesses, finding the correct diagnosis can be difficult. You can expect the tests and exams to include:
- A physical exam to rule out any health problems
- Blood tests to further rule out any problems and to screen for drugs and alcohol
- In-depth psychological evaluation, including questions about symptoms
- Talking to family and friends, if possible
In addition, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition (DSM-V), sets forth criteria that mental health professionals use to diagnose OCD.
How to Recognize OCD
Signs and symptoms of OCD may include:
- Repeated thoughts or images, such as fear of dirt, disorder or germs
- Intrusive sexual or violent thoughts, impulses or images
- Repetitive rituals or behaviors, such as counting, cleaning or checking things
- An inability to control such thoughts or behaviors
- Behaviors are preformed not to derive pleasure, but to lessen the anxiety the thoughts are causing
- Spending at least one hour a day performing the behaviors
- Thoughts and behaviors impacting day-to-day life
Most people diagnosed with OCD experience both obsessions and compulsions. Some might only experience obsessions, and a smaller portion of sufferers might only experience compulsions. If you or a loved one is experiencing these symptoms, call to discuss the treatment options available to you. Our trained advisers are available 24/7 to assist you.
Steps You Can Take to Help Someone With OCD
The best thing a family member or friend can do for someone suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder is to encourage and help that person to seek treatment. The person suffering from OCD might be embarrassed and try to hide symptoms or rituals, and mental rituals can be very difficult to recognize. Family members should be on the lookout for behavior changes and disruptions in everyday activities. Although loved ones might be tempted to help with rituals and behaviors, such as cleaning or checking door locks, this is counterproductive and reinforces the behaviors. A critical reaction to the behaviors can also increase anxiety for the person, so family members should strive to remain nonjudgmental and open-minded.
Family members will find it helpful to educate themselves about the disorder. Sufferers of OCD can be frustrating to deal with, and knowing more about the condition will increase the likelihood of those around them supporting and helping the sufferer. Once therapy has begun, supportive friends and family can make all the difference to recovery.
Talking to Someone With OCD
If someone you love is suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder, you should try to maintain a calm and nonjudgmental approach. If your loved one is comfortable with talking about the disorder, listen carefully so you can better understand what they are going through. It helps to realize the behaviors are separate from the person, and expressing this will help make your loved one more comfortable in openly talking about the disorder. During treatment, acknowledging any progress made, no matter how small, can help your loved one to continue on the road to recovery.
The first step for any concerned family member should be to encourage the sufferer to seek treatment. We can help you explore treatment options for your loved one. Call today to discuss options.
Adolescents and Teens
According to the International OCD Foundation, at least one in every 200 adolescents and teens in the US is suffering from OCD. Obsessive-compulsive disorder in children or teenagers can affect every part of their lives, from school to home. Children with OCD are also more likely to suffer from other associated mental health disorders, such as anxiety disorder and depression.
Symptoms of OCD often first appear in childhood or adolescence, and they can change in focus or severity over time. Getting the affected child into treatment should be the first priority. Since children are in school for much of the time, school personnel should be aware of the signs and symptoms as well as any treatment your child is receiving.
Learning to Cope With OCD
Although coping with OCD can be difficult, you should know that ways exist to make it easier. Learning about your disorder can help you understand your symptoms and behaviors, making treatment plans easier to stick to and complete. Planning daily tasks and staying organized can also help you cope with your condition. Set recovery goals and stay focused on achieving them. Stay motivated by keeping track of your progress. Find healthy outlets, such as hobbies or athletics. Meditation or yoga can be helpful to manage stress and anxiety.
Additionally, support groups are available for those suffering from OCD. It can be helpful to meet and talk with others going through similar challenges. Over 2.2 million Americans suffer from OCD, so you shouldn’t feel alone.
How to Treat OCD
Obsessive-compulsive disorder treatment can help sufferers bring symptoms under control. Obsessive-compulsive disorder can be treated with medication or psychotherapy; often a combination of both is most successful. Antidepressants, such as Zoloft or Paxil, are often the first medications tried in OCD cases, but other psychiatric medications might also be used. Sometimes, it can take trying many medications and dosages to find the right one or combination that works. It might take weeks or even months to notice a difference in symptoms after starting a new medication. The side effects should be discussed with your doctor before starting any new medication.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be helpful in OCD cases. CBT teaches the sufferer how to retrain thought patterns so the compulsions will no longer be necessary. This therapy can be given individually, in groups or in a residential setting.
Deciding Between OCD Solutions
Choosing the OCD treatment that will work best for you is an important decision. Your mental health professional can help you to understand all your treatment options and work out a plan that fits your lifestyle and specific needs. Each treatment option has pros and cons, and sometimes a combination of several treatment options is most effective. If you’re ready to explore treatment options, call today. We are available 24/7 to help you.
Where to Find OCD Treatment for a Friend or Family Member
If your friend or family member is suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder symptoms, the first step is to encourage them to discuss the problem with a family doctor or qualified mental health professional. OCD is a treatable disease. If left untreated, OCD can have devastating effects on day-to-day functioning.
If you have a loved one who is showing signs and symptoms of OCD, call today. We can help you find treatment options and choose the best way to deal with this condition.