Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Sarah Cohen


Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, commonly referred to as OCD, is a disorder that is composed of patterns of unwanted or intrusive thoughts that cause repetitive actions or compulsions that create difficulties by interfering with day to day activities. This is different than being a perfectionist because OCD thoughts are not just extra worrying about real life issues or enjoying a clean house. When most people think of OCD, they usually imagine someone who is always cleaning, and while this can be a manifestation of OCD, there are many other themes OCD might center around. For example, checking things such as light switches and locks excessively in order to get to a “good” number of times. Symptoms of OCD include obsessive and/or compulsive thoughts that take up a large amount of time and prevent normal work or school functioning. Obsessions are persistent, unwanted thoughts or urges that cause anxiety and distress usually followed by compulsions which are repeated actions meant to lessen the anxiety from the obsessions or prevent something bad from occurring. OCD is more common in women than men and usually begins during the teen or young adult years. Symptoms usually start off little by little and vary throughout the lifetime of the patient. Risk factors for OCD include a family history of OCD, physical differences in the brain, traumatic life events, or other mental health disorders. While there is no cure, if a patient can manage their symptoms well, they can lead a normal life. Treatments include psychotherapy, meditation, medication, and in rare cases when both medication and therapy are not effective, neuromodulation.

If you or someone you know needs support managing their OCD, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .

https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/obsessive-compulsive-disorder#2 https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/obsessive-compulsive-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20354432

The Less Talked-About Side of OCD: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

By: Isabelle Siegel

When thinking about OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), most people instinctively think of those who care about cleanliness and tidiness. In fact, it is not uncommon to use the phrase “I’m so OCD” to imply that one agonizes over neatness and order. This perception of OCD is not without reason, as many people with OCD do obsess over germs, contamination, and order and engage in excessive hand washing, cleaning, and ordering.

However, it is important to note that this is not the reality for many other sufferers of OCD. OCD is a wide-ranging disorder involving the presence of obsessions—“repeated thoughts, urges, or mental images that cause anxiety”—and compulsions—repetitive behaviors performed to relieve the anxiety. These obsessions can take nearly any form, with contamination and order being only two of them. Some other common obsessions include thoughts about: losing control or going insane, harming oneself or others, unwanted sexual ideas or images, and/or religion. For example, it is well-documented that people with OCD may experience intrusive thoughts about homosexuality, pedophilia, violence and aggression, and/or suicide.

Many people with these less talked-about OCD “themes” take longer to realize that they have OCD because their symptoms are not in line with the stereotypical hand washing and tidying. These individuals often engage in different compulsive behaviors to alleviate anxiety. These behaviors may include mental compulsions such as repeated checking and rumination (that is, repetitively reviewing and evaluating one’s thoughts and their meanings). For example, the individual who obsesses about violence and aggression may repeatedly check that he/she has not unintentionally harmed those around him/her.

It is ultimately important to acknowledge this less talked-about side of OCD in order to encourage sufferers to acknowledge their symptoms and to guide them to get the treatment and help that they need. 

If you or a loved one appears to be suffering from OCD, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can assist you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Sources:
https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd/index.shtml
https://iocdf.org/about-ocd/
https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/overcoming-self-sabotage/201002/rumination-problem-solving-gone-wrong
Image Source:
https://www.helpguide.org/articles/anxiety/obssessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd.htm

OCD: Supporting a Loved one with OCD

By: Sanjita Ekhelikar

It can be devastating to see a loved one suffer through a mental illness. This holds very true for loved ones of individuals afflicted with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or OCD. OCD is a ruthless anxiety disorder that traps people in repetitive thoughts or rituals. The disorder is characterized by irrational thoughts, or “obsessions,” that people have, which are addressed through “compulsions,” or behaviors to appease the thoughts. Obsessions and compulsions can range from concern over hygiene or safety, resulting in recurrent handwashing or checking locks on doors, or clarifying meanings with other people, which result in repeating words and phrases. An attempt to resist the compulsion leads to extreme feelings of anxiety, which are extremely unpleasant.

Individuals with OCD are constantly fighting their minds every single day, and fighting the urge to give in to the compulsions while also experiencing anxiety. As a family member or loved one of the effected individual, it can sometimes be difficult to know how to best be supportive and help the significant other overcome their OCD. Here are a list of tips to support a loved one struggling with OCD:

  1. Do not accommodate the OCD. A large part of this illness involves the individual asking for reassurance or wanting to continuously repeat an action or phrase until the OCD is “satisfied.” While it may seem like giving them the reassurance is the nice thing to do, this actually worsens the condition. Reassurance may remove anxiety for a short amount of time, but allows the OCD to continue to take over and keeps the individual under the control of OCD.
  2. Uncertainty is key. When presented with the previous situation about being asked reassurance, the best thing to do is leave the individual with uncertainty. This will result in them feeling anxiety, which may be hard to see, but is crucial in their resisting the compulsions and in the long run overcoming the OCD. When asked for reassurance, simply do not respond, or say “this could be true, but I don’t know for sure.” Uncertainty = anxiety = healing.
  3. Be compassionate. While you should be firm in not giving reassurances, be compassionate, empathetic, and understanding of your loved one. OCD is tiring, and the individual does not want to be asking you for reassurances or fighting with their mind. Be caring and loving to them.
  4. Educate yourself! The more you can learn about OCD, how it works, and its symptoms, the more effective you can be in helping your loved one and in tackling the illness together.
  5. Maintain your own life. It can be a natural thought to want to take time from work or school to help a loved one with OCD and to be around them. Do NOT do this – it is important to take care of yourself, have your own life and space, and not cater everything around the OCD. Your loved one will feel guilty if you are giving up things to take care of them, and you will soon tire out and not be effective in helping. OCD can be a trying disease to overcome, but with the correct treatments and proper support, it can be overcome. By knowing the best ways to be supportive of your loved ones, you can facilitate the process of their working towards a life free of OCD.

If you or someone you know is suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

Eating Disorders & OCD: Is There a Relationship?

Is There A Relationship between OCD & Eating Disorders?

By: Cassie Sieradzky

Eating disorders and OCD are highly comorbid. Statistics estimate that about two-thirds of those diagnosed with an eating disorder have also been diagnosed with another type of anxiety disorder, specifically, 41% of individuals with an eating disorder also meet criteria for obsessive-compulsive disorder.

OCD is characterized by recurrent and persistent thoughts, urges, or images that are intrusive and unwanted. Individuals with OCD attempt to ignore or suppress their thoughts, urges, or images by performing some behavior (compulsion).

Obsessive-compulsive behaviors are also frequently seen in eating disorders, such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder. Some of the behaviors characterized by eating disorders can be considered compulsive and ritualistic, especially those performed in an attempt to remove the anxiety or discomfort associated with eating. Obsessions that could lead to compulsive behaviors include thoughts related to weight, eating, food, or body image.

Examples of compulsive behaviors commonly associated with eating disorders include excessive exercise, constant body checking, counting calories, frequent weighing, use of laxatives to reduce weight, and following particular “rules” or “rituals” when eating a meal.

Psychotherapy, medication, or both are typically successful in treating these disorders.

If you or a loved one appears to be suffering from OCD or an eating disorder, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can assist you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Ekern, J., & Karges, C. (2014, March 31). OCD and Eating Disorders Often Occur Together. Retrieved April 16, 2018, from https://www.eatingdisorderhope.com/treatment-for-eating-disorders/co-occurring-dual-diagnosis/ocd-obsessive-compulsive-disorder/ocd-and-eating-disorders-often-occur-together

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

OCD: SIGNS & SYMPTOMS

By: Cassie Sieradzky

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a disorder where the individual has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions) that they feel unable to control. Obsessive-compulsive disorder can affect adults, adolescents, and children. Most people are diagnosed around age 19, typically with an earlier age of onset in boys than in girls. Risk factors for developing OCD include close relatives with this disorder as well as exposure to abuse/trauma in childhood. People diagnosed with OCD may have symptoms of obsessions, compulsions, or both. This can be disruptive to all facets of life, such as work, school, and personal relationships.

Obsessions are repeated thoughts, urges, or mental images that cause anxiety. Examples of obsessions include fear of germs or contamination, unwanted taboo thoughts involving sex/ religion/ harm, aggressive thoughts towards others or self, and a need to have things in a perfect order.

Compulsions are repetitive behaviors that a person with OCD feels the urge to do in response to an obsessive thought, typically to ease the anxiety. Compulsions include excessive cleaning and/or handwashing, arranging things in a very particular way, repeatedly checking on things (checking to see if the door is locked or that the oven is off), and compulsive counting.

OCD is typically treated with medication, psychotherapy or a combination of the two.

If you or a loved one appears to be suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder, licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can assist you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. (n.d.). Retrieved April 16, 2018, from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd/index.shtml