Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder – Symptoms and Treatment

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder pic
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Image: webmd.com

A Maryland-based psychologist with more than three decades of experience, Uzi Ben-Ami, Ph.D., assists couples, children, families, and groups by way of his private practice in Rockville. Over the course of his career, Uzi Ben-Ami, Ph.D., has helped patients work through a variety of issues, including anxiety, depression, emotional dysregulation, and identity issues. He also invested much work with people suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD).

As the name suggests, OCD is a disorder characterized by obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors. Although many people will experience overly focused thoughts and deal with repetitive behaviors from time to time, this does not mean that they have OCD. Those who do have the disorder encounter obsessions and compulsions so extreme that they alter their daily lives and suffer distressing feelings such as fear, doubt, disgust, and anxiety.

While obsessions and compulsions usually go hand-in-hand, it’s important to note that people with OCD may experience only obsessive symptoms or only compulsive symptoms. Common obsessions among those with the disorder include unwanted or extreme sexual or religious thoughts as well as fears of contamination, imperfection, losing control, or harming others. In many cases, these obsessions lead to compulsive behaviors such as constant cleaning, repetitive talk or actions, continuous ordering and arranging, and persistent checking.

Symptoms of OCD typically manifest fully for the first time in adolescence or early adulthood, but many with the disorder begin to experience symptoms in childhood. Typical treatment may include a combination of medication and cognitive behavioral therapy. OCD patients often have other co-existing conditions that also require treatment.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Uzi Ben-Ami, Ph.D.
Uzi Ben-Ami, Ph.D.

Child and adolescent psychologist, Dr. Uzi Ben-Ami provides an educational program, counseling and therapy services for all ages, children and young adults, parents, and groups. His training as a cognitive behaviorist using CBT, DBT, and Future Facing Trauma Therapy, lead Dr. Uzi Ben-Ami to practice Cognitive Behavior Therapy flexibly, treating generalized anxiety, phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder and trauma reactions such as PTSD, which usually involves disruptive obsessive thoughts and fearful reactions.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a common presentation in therapy. OCD is usually considered a symptom of anxiety, a condition characterized by repetitive symptoms such as frequent disruptive thoughts or obsessions and/or compulsions. Sometimes, to control disruptive and disturbing thoughts, the individual reacts with repetitive behaviors that are known as compulsions. For example, with OCD, individuals may have an irrational fear that a loved one will be in an accident if they do not turn the light switch off and on four times. Occasional repetitions are considered a mild ‘superstitious behavior’ and may not necessitate intervention because they may not disrupt and disturb a person’s normal life activity or might even enhance it, such as becoming very neat and organized. However, when the behavior repeats itself in high frequency it may disturb normal life activity and may increase obsessive preoccupation which in turn may increase the frequency of compulsions or cause depression and additional anxiety. Life may become difficult to bear for the individual, and bring concerns to family, friends or colleagues. OCD may force someone who is dealing with the disorder into a stressful life. A person having fearful thoughts and compulsive rituals frequently tries unsuccessfully to ease disruptive thoughts and behaviors. It should be noted that compulsive behaviors may appear without obsessions but might become just as disruptive and difficult to bear.

Although there are different approaches to managing OCD, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is usually considered the preferred, evidence-based, research-supported intervention. With Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, disruptive thoughts and behavioral patterns will be altered through supportive guidance, educational explanations, habit-reversal efforts, and by teaching how to evoke parasympathetic tension-reducing reactions. Therapeutic interventions are never cold and clinical. Therapy must always involve friendliness, hope, and a strong rapport, which must be established first before a cooperative successful intervention starts.