The International OCD Foundation defines Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) as a mental health disorder that occurs when a person gets caught in a cycle of obsessions and compulsions. The compulsions themselves are not necessarily unhealthy, but an obsession with completing tasks can significantly interfere with a person’s career, daily activities, and social interactions.
OCD is a treatable condition but is not something that can be “cured”. The most effective treatment options usually include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and, possibly, medication. The experienced psychologic treatment professionals at Insyte Psychiatric in East Brunswick have years of experience helping people with OCD overcome their intrusive thoughts and control their connected responses. The goal of treatment is to give you control of your thoughts and actions. Allow a team of successful psychologists and social workers to help you through the treatment process.
Treatment plans vary for each person but may include psychotherapy (talk therapy) and medications. Following a treatment plan and meeting regularly with a specialist like Dr. Keise can dramatically improve a person’s quality of life and decrease the control that OCD has over their actions and thoughts.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
For meaningful improvement from the effects of OCD, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has shown better results than psychotropic medications alone. Instead of treating the symptoms, CBT focuses on the person as a whole, including their thoughts and mindset. One effective CBT practice is Exposure & Response Prevention (ERP or Exposure Therapy). You may be exposed to situations that trigger an obsessive response and practice avoiding performing the compulsive behavior. Gradually increasing the exposure and level of anxiety will build resilience to OCD reactions.
How Exposure Therapy Works
Exposure therapy takes advantage of the natural process called habituation. This occurs when a person stops responding or paying attention to a specific stimulus after being repeatedly exposed to that stimulus. A simple example is a person living next to a train station. For the first few weeks, the train noises might bother the person, but after a few weeks or months, the noises fade into the background unnoticed. That person has become habituated to the sound of the train station. Using the same idea, exposure therapy works by using habituation by focusing on the obsession which creates opportunities for a person to unlearn the compulsions they have established.
Along the same lines is treating avoidance. Avoiding certain things out of fear can reinforce the fearful thoughts around that object, person, or idea. Fear is a strong force that can be challenging to overcome without help. For instance, fear of dogs will continue to be reinforced if every time a person comes into contact with a dog, their initial response is to avoid it and run away. With each interaction, a person is reinforcing their avoidance response habit.
Instead, exposure therapy would encourage people to stay in the situation acknowledging the heightened anxiety and learning that coming into contact with dogs does not automatically warrant a compulsive response. If this person walked passed the dog every day without issue for a prolonged period, their brain would slowly unlearn the associated fear and the compulsive behavior would fade more quickly each time. That person would be habituated to the dog.
There are certain medications that are used to treat OCD and other mental health disorders.
Dr. Keise will recommend the correct medication and dosage that is right for you. However, the dosage can change as your age and you are more skilled at responsive avoidance. In some cases, Dr. Keise will not recommend medical treatment.
If you have been diagnosed with OCD or believe you are showing signs and symptoms of OCD, you can get help from a team of trained professionals with Insyte Psychiatric. Benefit from personalized care, a dedicated team, and a technology-conscious team that officers virtual and in-office meetings to meet your needs.