Ocd therapy techniques
Treatments for OCD | Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA
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Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a treatment for OCD that uses two scientifically based techniques to change a person’s behavior and thoughts: exposure and response prevention (ERP) and cognitive therapy. CBT is conducted by a cognitive-behavioral therapist who has special training in treating OCD.
Most CBT treatment is conducted at a therapist’s office once a week with exercises to practice at home between sessions. If your OCD is very severe, you might need more frequent sessions. Not all mental health professionals are trained in ERP therapy, so it’s important to find one who is.
One key to knowing whether you have found an appropriate ERP therapist is if the therapist encourages you to engage in exposure exercises during your sessions in the office. This helps you engage in more exposures outside of the office. Simply speaking about doing them in the office is less effective than getting started with the actual exposures. The ultimate goal of therapy is to translate exposure to the real world, where you can resist your compulsions and where you can embrace uncertainty rather than fear it.
The psychotherapy of choice for the treatment of OCD is exposure and response prevention (ERP), which is a form of CBT. In ERP therapy, people who have OCD are placed in situations where they are gradually exposed to their obsessions and asked not to perform the compulsions that usually ease their anxiety and distress. This is done at your pace; your therapist should never force you to do anything that you do not want to do.
The first step is for you to describe all of your obsessions and compulsions. Then you and the therapist will arrange them in a list, ordering them from things that don’t bother you much to things that are the most frightening. Next, the therapist will ask you to face your fear of something on your list, starting with the easiest. Let’s say you have an obsessive fear of germs in public places, and that fear is pretty low in how much it scares you. Your therapist will design a task for you that exposes you to that fear. Your task might for you to touch a public doorknob. Here’s where the response-prevention part comes in. If your usual response is to wash your hands immediately after touching the doorknob, the therapist would ask you to wait before you wash your hands. As you repeat this exposure task, the therapist will ask you to wait longer and longer before washing your hands. Over time, this gradual exposure and delayed response would help you learn to control your fear of germs in public places without washing your hands.
It may seem weird, but this new way of confronting your fears directly will lead to fewer and less intense fears or obsessions about germs. Your brain learns that nothing bad happens when you stop performing compulsive rituals.
You’d probably feel very upset when you first touched the doorknob — maybe even feel a little panicked. But the body has a wonderful capacity for something called habituation, and anxiety will eventually lessen without doing anything but letting time pass. It’s something like jumping into a pool of cold water. When you jump in, the water may feel very cold. But after a while, your body gets used to the cold, thanks to habituation, and you feel fine.
When your therapist helps you with exposures over a period of time, your anxiety shrinks until it is barely noticeable or even fades entirely. The therapist can then help you gain confidence and learn special skills to control the compulsions through a cognitive therapy.
For those who may be resistant to jumping right into real world situations, imaginal exposure (IE), sometimes referred to as visualization, can be a helpful way to alleviate enough anxiety to move willingly to ERP. With visualization, the therapist helps create a scenario that elicits the anxiety someone might experience in a routine situation. For someone who fears walking down a hallway in a way that diverts from their “perfect” pattern, the therapist may have them picture themselves walking in that divergent manner for several minutes every day and record their level of anxiety. As they habituates to the discomfort, with decreased anxiety over time, they are gradually desensitized to the feared situation, making them more willing to move the process to real life, and engage in the next step, ERP.
Habit Reversal Training
This intervention includes awareness training, introduction of a competing response, social support, positive reinforcement, and often relaxation techniques. Awareness training may be practicing the habit or tic in front of a mirror, focusing on the sensations of the body and specific muscles before and while engaging in the behavior, and identifying and recording when the habit or tic occurs. These techniques increase awareness of how and when the urges develop, making it more likely that an individual will be able to intervene and make a change.
That is where the competing response comes in, with the individual and therapist working together to find something similar to the movement or tic that is not noticeable to others. Someone with a vocal tic who learns awareness of the developing urge may practice tensing the muscles around their cheeks and mouth to ride out the urge and prevent the tic. Or someone with a compulsion to touch things symmetrically may be directed to tense the opposite arm, holding it tightly against their body, preventing them from completing the ritual.
This method of treatment takes time, diligent practice, and patience, as well as integrating relaxation skills prior to beginning. Also extremely critical to success is the support and positive reinforcement of family
When applied to treating OCD, cognitive therapy helps you understand that the brain is sending error messages. Your therapist will help you learn to recognize these messages and respond to them in new ways to help you control your obsessions and compulsions. Cognitive therapy focuses on the meanings we attach to certain experiences that we misinterpret. For example, if a friend passes you without acknowledgment, you might interpret her action incorrectly and think “Mary doesn’t like me because she did not say hello. ” And you might believe your thought is very important or meaningful. Cognitive therapy helps you stand back from these thoughts, look at the evidence closely, and tell yourself something more realistic or accurate; in this case it might be, “Something is on Mary’s mind, but I don’t know what it is.”
Cognitive therapy for OCD focuses on the experience of negative thoughts. While most people easily dismiss such thoughts (e.g., “That’s a silly thing to think”), some people have certain beliefs that thoughts are always important. So instead of being able to just forget about these negative thoughts, their beliefs cause them to react differently and might make them think “I’m a bad person for having such a thought!” Research shows that believing that negative thoughts are important and attempting not to have “bad” thoughts actually produces the opposite effect.
4 great therapy techniques for treating OCD
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OCD is anxiety-driven
“Mark, why would anyone NEED to clean a spotless table six times a day?” Peter asked me wearily.
He was calling to make a therapy appointment for his sister who suffered from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
I understood Peter’s exhaustion. For an outsider, and sometimes even those with OCD themselves, the obsessive complusive behaviour is odd. Counting bathroom tiles, elaborate hand-washing routines, checking 40 times the oven is turned off, cleaning an already pristine house – why do it?
Firstly, I explained to Peter that OCD is essentially an anxiety driven condition. I told him compulsive behaviour can also be observed in animals if they are too narrowly confined and have elevated levels of stress hormone. (1)
But like all repetitive behaviours, the compulsion may start to function like any other addiction. The OCD sufferer may feel they have to do increasingly more of their compulsive behaviour just to feel ‘normal’ – just as the addict may need to take increasingly more of a substance to get the same hit.
OCD can be seen as an attempt tostave off anxiety
There is often a superstitious element to obsessive behaviour, with the sufferer feeling that their ceaseless checking or counting or cleaning will somehow “stop something bad happening”. Often it’s not at all clear what that ‘something’ might be.
OCD can be understood as a profound fear of not carrying out the activity (whether that’s a physical activity such as cleaning or a mental activity such as counting or checking). The fear of not giving in to the compulsion drives the compulsion.
OCD often oscillates between being really bad, quite bad or barely noticeable. It tends to worsen when background stress levels are high, so it’s always a good idea to get a general sense of how your client deals with stress in their lives, and what Primal Human Needs your client isn’t meeting, so you can help them there if need be.
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With that in mind, here are four handy techniques to help you help your obsessive compulsive clients put all that behind them.
1. Use the Rewind Technique
If we ask our OCD clients straight out to imagine not doing their compulsion when they normally would do it, they are likely to get highly anxious at the very idea.
Now I think that all psychotherapists should anyway be adept at using the Rewind Technique to help phobic or traumatized clients.
But this same powerful fear-diminishing technique can be very effectively used for OCD sufferers to neutralize and calm the terrifying thought of not carrying out compulsion.
When your client is relaxed about not engaging in their compulsion, then the compulsion is as good as gone.
2. Separate the OCD from core identity
As with all emotional problems, OCD is not the person. OCD is more like a parasite that spoils a person’s life – and makes living much more difficult. The more separate – and even unfamiliar – a state of mind becomes, the easier it is to detach from it.
So rather than talking in terms of:
so you being OCD has made life quite difficult for you
we can talk about
so that OCD has made life quite difficult for you
and rather than saying
you can’t help yourself
we can talk about ‘it’, as in
it is always trying to manipulate you
It’s much easier to begin to stand up to something that feels separate from who you are.
3. Interrupt the pattern
Behaviours – especially compulsive behaviours – tend to become stereotypical. This means the behaviour tends toward becoming fixed in a narrow pattern with recognizable steps and repeated in order sequence. There is a specific hypnotic ‘scrambling’ technique to first elicit the steps then hypnotically repeat them in the wrong order, but you can also prescribe scrambling to ‘loosen’ such patterns.
For example, you might ask someone who washes their hands 100 times after any given trigger (coming into contact with door handles, or whatever) to:
- still wash their hands but wait 30 seconds before doing so
- wash their hands 90 times, then stop
- recite the alphabet, then wash their hands ten more times.
In this way you, the therapist, begin to ‘direct’ the behaviour.
This subtly demonstrates to your client that this behaviour is not as ‘fixed’ and unchallengeable as it appears. Changing it in small ways is a positive prelude to removing it completely.
This feels much less threatening than trying to get rid of it all in one go.
After the Rewind has been used then clients will often feel much less compelled to continue with their previous complusions anyway, and their activity will feel even more ‘pointless” when they are doing it.
4. Use hypnosis to fight hypnosis
OCD is anxiety driven but it is also hypnotic. Sufferers often report being ‘tranced out’, totally focussed on what they are doing and oblivious to the world around them. They may also experience hypnotic time distortion and be quite unaware of the length of time they have spent engaged in their activity.
You can use hypnosis to get them to imagine performing their behaviour while constantly coming out of that obsessive trance.
So you might suggest something like:
… imagine touching that door handle… and noticing how that OCD goes into action… and starting to wash your hands… and coming right out of that obsessive trance… with your hands still under the water… and looking out of the window… and noticing three things you can see out there… and as you wash those hands some more… you come right out of that obsessive trance… and step back a little with your right foot… and then your left foot…
In this way we use therapeutic hypnosis to ‘break’ the negative trance of the OCD. At the same time, we are training them to loosen up the compulsivity of the activity.
OCD sufferers (and their loved ones) often look terribly haunted and bowed down by their condition. In my opinion, there are few things more satisfying than helping them to free themselves.
For more on using hypnosis to treat OCD, see my article here.
About Mark Tyrrell
Psychology is my passion. I've been a psychotherapist trainer since 1998, specializing in brief, solution focused approaches. I now teach practitioners all over the world via our online courses.
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- Andrew Luescher, director of Purdue’s Animal Behavior Clinic and one of about 30 board certified animal behaviourists in the USA, estimates that 2 percent of the dog population has canine compulsive disorder. Dogs with the condition often display compulsive behaviours such as tail chasing, snapping the air, licking excessively, chewing with an empty mouth and barking monotonously without any change in volume or intonation.
Photo courtesy of LisaLaporta
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A prominent role among mental illnesses is played by syndromes (complexes of symptoms), united in the group of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), which received its name from the Latin terms obsessio and compulsio.
Obsession (lat. obsessio - taxation, siege, blockade).
Compulsions (lat. compello - I force). 1. Obsessive drives, a kind of obsessive phenomena (obsessions). Characterized by irresistible attraction that arises contrary to the mind, will, feelings. Often they are unacceptable to the patient, contrary to his moral and ethical properties. Unlike impulsive drives, compulsions are not realized. These drives are recognized by the patient as wrong and painfully experienced by them, especially since their very appearance, due to its incomprehensibility, often gives rise to a feeling of fear in the patient 2. The term compulsions is also used in a broader sense to refer to any obsessions in the motor sphere, including obsessive rituals.
In domestic psychiatry, obsessive states were understood as psychopathological phenomena, characterized by the fact that phenomena of a certain content repeatedly appear in the mind of the patient, accompanied by a painful feeling of coercion [Zinoviev PM, 193I]. For N.s. characteristic involuntary, even against the will, the emergence of obsessions with clear consciousness. Although the obsessions are alien, extraneous in relation to the patient's psyche, the patient is not able to get rid of them. They are closely related to the emotional sphere, accompanied by depressive reactions, anxiety. Being symptomatic, according to S.L. Sukhanov , "parasitic", they do not affect the course of intellectual activity in general, remain alien to thinking, do not lead to a decrease in its level, although they worsen the efficiency and productivity of the patient's mental activity. Throughout the course of the disease, a critical attitude is maintained towards obsessions. N.s. conditionally divided into obsessions in the intellectual-affective (phobia) and motor (compulsions) spheres, but most often several of their types are combined in the structure of the disease of obsessions. The isolation of obsessions that are abstract, affectively indifferent, indifferent in their content, for example, arrhythmomania, is rarely justified; An analysis of the psychogenesis of a neurosis often makes it possible to see a pronounced affective (depressive) background at the basis of the obsessive account. Along with elementary obsessions, the connection of which with psychogeny is obvious, there are “cryptogenic” ones, when the cause of painful experiences is hidden [Svyadoshch L.M., 1959]. N.s. are observed mainly in individuals with a psychasthenic character. This is where apprehensions are especially characteristic. In addition, N.S. occur within the framework of neurosis-like states with sluggish schizophrenia, endogenous depressions, epilepsy, the consequences of a traumatic brain injury, somatic diseases, mainly hypochondria-phobic or nosophobic syndrome. Some researchers distinguish the so-called. "Neurosis of obsessive states", which is characterized by the predominance of obsessive states in the clinical picture - memories that reproduce a psychogenic traumatic situation, thoughts, fears, actions. In genesis play a role: mental trauma; conditioned reflex stimuli that have become pathogenic due to their coincidence with others that previously caused a feeling of fear; situations that have become psychogenic due to the confrontation of opposing tendencies [Svyadoshch A.M., 1982]. It should be noted that these same authors emphasize that N.s.c. occurs with various character traits, but most often in psychasthenic personalities.
Currently, almost all obsessive-compulsive disorders are united in the International Classification of Diseases under the concept of "obsessive-compulsive disorder".
OKR concepts have undergone a fundamental reassessment over the past 15 years. During this time, the clinical and epidemiological significance of OCD has been completely revised. If it was previously thought that this is a rare condition observed in a small number of people, now it is known that OCD is common and causes a high percentage of morbidity, which requires the urgent attention of psychiatrists around the world. Parallel to this, our understanding of the etiology of OCD has broadened: the vaguely formulated psychoanalytic definition of the past two decades has been replaced by a neurochemical paradigm that explores the neurotransmitter disorders that underlie OCD. And most importantly, pharmacological interventions specifically targeting serotonergic neurotransmission have revolutionized the prospects for recovery for millions of OCD patients worldwide.
The discovery that intense serotonin reuptake inhibition (SSRI) was the key to effective treatment for OCD was the first step in a revolution and spurred clinical research that showed the efficacy of such selective inhibitors.
As described in ICD-10, the main features of OCD are repetitive intrusive (obsessive) thoughts and compulsive actions (rituals).
In a broad sense, the core of OCD is the syndrome of obsession, which is a condition with a predominance in the clinical picture of feelings, thoughts, fears, memories that arise in addition to the desire of patients, but with awareness of their pain and a critical attitude towards them. Despite the understanding of the unnaturalness, illogicality of obsessions and states, patients are powerless in their attempts to overcome them. Obsessional impulses or ideas are recognized as alien to the personality, but as if coming from within. Obsessions can be the performance of rituals designed to alleviate anxiety, such as washing hands to combat "pollution" and to prevent "infection". Attempts to drive away unwelcome thoughts or urges can lead to severe internal struggle, accompanied by intense anxiety.
Obsessions in the ICD-10 are included in the group of neurotic disorders.
The prevalence of OCD in the population is quite high. According to some data, it is determined by an indicator of 1. 5% (meaning "fresh" cases of diseases) or 2-3%, if episodes of exacerbations observed throughout life are taken into account. Those suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder make up 1% of all patients receiving treatment in psychiatric institutions. It is believed that men and women are affected approximately equally.
The problem of obsessive-compulsive disorders attracted the attention of clinicians already at the beginning of the 17th century. They were first described by Platter in 1617. In 1621 E. Barton described an obsessive fear of death. Mentions of obsessions are found in the writings of F. Pinel (1829). I. Balinsky proposed the term "obsessive ideas", which took root in Russian psychiatric literature. In 1871, Westphal coined the term "agoraphobia" to refer to the fear of being in public places. M. Legrand de Sol , analyzing the features of the dynamics of OCD in the form of "insanity of doubt with delusions of touch, points to a gradually becoming more complicated clinical picture - obsessive doubts are replaced by ridiculous fears of" touch "to surrounding objects, motor rituals join, the fulfillment of which is subject to the whole life sick. However, only at the turn of the XIX-XX centuries. researchers were able to more or less clearly describe the clinical picture and give syndromic characteristics of obsessive-compulsive disorders. The onset of the disease usually occurs in adolescence and adolescence. The maximum of clinically defined manifestations of obsessive-compulsive disorder is observed in the age range of 10-25 years.
Main clinical manifestations of OCD:
Obsessional thoughts - painful, arising against the will, but recognized by the patient as their own, ideas, beliefs, images, which in a stereotyped form forcibly invade the patient's consciousness and which he tries to resist in some way. It is this combination of an inner sense of compulsive urge and efforts to resist it that characterizes obsessional symptoms, but of the two, the degree of effort exerted is the more variable. Obsessive thoughts may take the form of single words, phrases, or lines of poetry; they are usually unpleasant to the patient and may be obscene, blasphemous, or even shocking.
Obsessional imagery is vivid scenes, often violent or disgusting, including, for example, sexual perversion.
Obsessional impulses are urges to do things that are usually destructive, dangerous or shameful; for example, jumping into the road in front of a moving car, injuring a child, or shouting obscene words while in society.
Obsessional rituals include both mental activities (eg, counting repeatedly in a particular way, or repeating certain words) and repetitive but meaningless acts (eg, washing hands twenty or more times a day). Some of them have an understandable connection with the obsessive thoughts that preceded them, for example, repeated washing of hands - with thoughts of infection. Other rituals (for example, regularly laying out clothes in some complex system before putting them on) do not have such a connection. Some patients feel an irresistible urge to repeat such actions a certain number of times; if that fails, they are forced to start all over again. Patients are invariably aware that their rituals are illogical and usually try to hide them. Some fear that such symptoms are a sign of the onset of insanity. Both obsessive thoughts and rituals inevitably lead to problems in daily activities.
Obsessive rumination (“mental chewing gum”) is an internal debate in which the arguments for and against even the simplest everyday actions are endlessly revised. Some obsessive doubts relate to actions that may have been incorrectly performed or not completed, such as turning off the gas stove faucet or locking the door; others concern actions that could harm other people (for example, the possibility of driving past a cyclist in a car, knocking him down). Sometimes doubts are associated with a possible violation of religious prescriptions and rituals - “remorse of conscience”.
Compulsive actions - repetitive stereotyped actions, sometimes acquiring the character of protective rituals. The latter are aimed at preventing any objectively unlikely events that are dangerous for the patient or his relatives.
In addition to the above, in a number of obsessive-compulsive disorders, a number of well-defined symptom complexes stand out, and among them are obsessive doubts, contrasting obsessions, obsessive fears - phobias (from the Greek phobos).
Obsessive thoughts and compulsive rituals may intensify in certain situations; for example, obsessive thoughts about harming other people often become more persistent in the kitchen or some other place where knives are kept. Since patients often avoid such situations, there may be a superficial resemblance to the characteristic avoidance pattern found in phobic anxiety disorder. Anxiety is an important component of obsessive-compulsive disorders. Some rituals reduce anxiety, while after others it increases. Obsessions often develop as part of depression. In some patients, this appears to be a psychologically understandable reaction to obsessive-compulsive symptoms, but in other patients, recurrent episodes of depressive mood occur independently.
Obsessions (obsessions) are divided into figurative or sensual, accompanied by the development of affect (often painful) and obsessions of affectively neutral content.
Sensual obsessions include obsessive doubts, memories, ideas, drives, actions, fears, an obsessive feeling of antipathy, an obsessive fear of habitual actions.
Obsessive doubts - intrusively arising contrary to logic and reason, uncertainty about the correctness of committed and committed actions. The content of doubts is different: obsessive everyday fears (whether the door is locked, whether windows or water taps are closed tightly enough, whether gas and electricity are turned off), doubts related to official activities (whether this or that document is written correctly, whether the addresses on business papers are mixed up , whether inaccurate figures are indicated, whether orders are correctly formulated or executed), etc. Despite repeated verification of the committed action, doubts, as a rule, do not disappear, causing psychological discomfort in the person suffering from this kind of obsession.
Obsessive memories include persistent, irresistible painful memories of any sad, unpleasant or shameful events for the patient, accompanied by a sense of shame, remorse. They dominate the mind of the patient, despite the efforts and efforts not to think about them.
Compulsive impulses - urges to commit one or another tough or extremely dangerous action, accompanied by a feeling of horror, fear, confusion with the inability to get rid of it. The patient is seized, for example, by the desire to throw himself under a passing train or push a loved one under it, to kill his wife or child in an extremely cruel way. At the same time, patients are painfully afraid that this or that action will be implemented.
Manifestations of obsessive ideas can be different. In some cases, this is a vivid "vision" of the results of obsessive drives, when patients imagine the result of a cruel act committed. In other cases, obsessive ideas, often referred to as mastering, appear in the form of implausible, sometimes absurd situations that patients take for real. An example of obsessive ideas is the patient's conviction that the buried relative was alive, and the patient painfully imagines and experiences the suffering of the deceased in the grave. At the height of obsessive ideas, the consciousness of their absurdity, implausibility disappears and, on the contrary, confidence in their reality appears. As a result, obsessions acquire the character of overvalued formations (dominant ideas that do not correspond to their true meaning), and sometimes delusions.
An obsessive feeling of antipathy (as well as obsessive blasphemous and blasphemous thoughts) - unjustified, driven away by the patient from himself antipathy towards a certain, often close person, cynical, unworthy thoughts and ideas in relation to respected people, in religious persons - in relation to saints or ministers churches.
Obsessive acts are acts done against the wishes of the sick, despite efforts made to restrain them. Some of the obsessive actions burden the patients until they are realized, others are not noticed by the patients themselves. Obsessive actions are painful for patients, especially in those cases when they become the object of attention of others.
Obsessive fears, or phobias, include an obsessive and senseless fear of heights, large streets, open or confined spaces, large crowds of people, the fear of sudden death, the fear of falling ill with one or another incurable disease. Some patients may develop a wide variety of phobias, sometimes acquiring the character of fear of everything (panphobia). And finally, an obsessive fear of the emergence of fears (phobophobia) is possible.
Hypochondriacal phobias (nosophobia) - an obsessive fear of some serious illness. Most often, cardio-, stroke-, syphilo- and AIDS phobias are observed, as well as the fear of the development of malignant tumors. At the peak of anxiety, patients sometimes lose their critical attitude to their condition - they turn to doctors of the appropriate profile, require examination and treatment. The implementation of hypochondriacal phobias occurs both in connection with psycho- and somatogenic (general non-mental illnesses) provocations, and spontaneously. As a rule, hypochondriacal neurosis develops as a result, accompanied by frequent visits to doctors and unreasonable medication.
Specific (isolated) phobias - obsessive fears limited to a strictly defined situation - fear of heights, nausea, thunderstorms, pets, treatment at the dentist, etc. Since contact with situations that cause fear is accompanied by intense anxiety, the patients tend to avoid them.
Obsessive fears are often accompanied by the development of rituals - actions that have the meaning of "magic" spells that are performed, despite the critical attitude of the patient to obsession, in order to protect against one or another imaginary misfortune: before starting any important business, the patient must perform some that specific action to eliminate the possibility of failure. Rituals can, for example, be expressed in snapping fingers, playing a melody to the patient or repeating certain phrases, etc. In these cases, even relatives are not aware of the existence of such disorders. Rituals, combined with obsessions, are a fairly stable system that usually exists for many years and even decades.
Obsessions of affectively neutral content - obsessive sophistication, obsessive counting, recalling neutral events, terms, formulations, etc. Despite their neutral content, they burden the patient, interfere with his intellectual activity.
Contrasting obsessions ("aggressive obsessions") - blasphemous, blasphemous thoughts, fear of harming oneself and others. Psychopathological formations of this group refer mainly to figurative obsessions with pronounced affective saturation and ideas that take possession of the consciousness of patients. They are distinguished by a sense of alienation, the absolute lack of motivation of the content, as well as a close combination with obsessive drives and actions. Patients with contrasting obsessions and complain of an irresistible desire to add endings to the replicas they have just heard, giving an unpleasant or threatening meaning to what has been said, to repeat after those around them, but with a touch of irony or malice, phrases of religious content, to shout out cynical words that contradict their own attitudes and generally accepted morality. , they may experience fear of losing control of themselves and possibly committing dangerous or ridiculous actions, injuring themselves or their loved ones. In the latter cases, obsessions are often combined with object phobias (fear of sharp objects - knives, forks, axes, etc.). The contrasting group also partially includes obsessions of sexual content (obsessions of the type of forbidden ideas about perverted sexual acts, the objects of which are children, representatives of the same sex, animals).
Obsessions of pollution (mysophobia). This group of obsessions includes both the fear of pollution (earth, dust, urine, feces and other impurities), as well as the fear of penetration into the body of harmful and toxic substances (cement, fertilizers, toxic waste), small objects (glass fragments, needles, specific types of dust), microorganisms. In some cases, the fear of contamination can be limited, remain at the preclinical level for many years, manifesting itself only in some features of personal hygiene (frequent change of linen, repeated washing of hands) or in housekeeping (thorough handling of food, daily washing of floors). , "taboo" on pets). This kind of monophobia does not significantly affect the quality of life and is evaluated by others as habits (exaggerated cleanliness, excessive disgust). Clinically manifested variants of mysophobia belong to the group of severe obsessions. In these cases, gradually becoming more complex protective rituals come to the fore: avoiding sources of pollution and touching "unclean" objects, processing things that could get dirty, a certain sequence in the use of detergents and towels, which allows you to maintain "sterility" in the bathroom. Stay outside the apartment is also furnished with a series of protective measures: going out into the street in special clothing that covers the body as much as possible, special processing of wearable items upon returning home. In the later stages of the disease, patients, avoiding pollution, not only do not go out, but do not even leave their own room. In order to avoid contacts and contacts that are dangerous in terms of contamination, patients do not allow even their closest relatives to come near them. Mysophobia is also related to the fear of contracting a disease, which does not belong to the categories of hypochondriacal phobias, since it is not determined by fears that a person suffering from OCD has a particular disease. In the foreground is the fear of a threat from the outside: the fear of pathogenic bacteria entering the body. Hence the development of appropriate protective actions.
A special place in the series of obsessions is occupied by obsessive actions in the form of isolated, monosymptomatic movement disorders. Among them, especially in childhood, tics predominate, which, unlike organically conditioned involuntary movements, are much more complex motor acts that have lost their original meaning. Tics sometimes give the impression of exaggerated physiological movements. This is a kind of caricature of certain motor acts, natural gestures. Patients suffering from tics can shake their heads (as if checking whether the hat fits well), make hand movements (as if discarding interfering hair), blink their eyes (as if getting rid of a mote). Along with obsessive tics, pathological habitual actions (lip biting, gnashing of teeth, spitting, etc.) are often observed, which differ from obsessive actions proper in the absence of a subjectively painful sense of persistence and experience them as alien, painful. Neurotic states characterized only by obsessive tics usually have a favorable prognosis. Appearing most often in preschool and primary school age, tics usually subside by the end of puberty. However, such disorders can also be more persistent, persist for many years and only partially change in manifestations.
The course of obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Unfortunately, chronization must be indicated as the most characteristic trend in the OCD dynamics. Cases of episodic manifestations of the disease and complete recovery are relatively rare. However, in many patients, especially with the development and preservation of one type of manifestation (agoraphobia, obsessive counting, ritual handwashing, etc. ), a long-term stabilization of the condition is possible. In these cases, there is a gradual (usually in the second half of life) mitigation of psychopathological symptoms and social readaptation. For example, patients who experienced fear of traveling on certain types of transport, or public speaking, cease to feel flawed and work along with healthy people. In mild forms of OCD, the disease usually proceeds favorably (on an outpatient basis). The reverse development of symptoms occurs after 1 year - 5 years from the moment of manifestation.
More severe and complex OCDs such as phobias of infection, pollution, sharp objects, contrasting performances, multiple rituals, on the other hand, may become persistent, resistant to treatment, or show a tendency to recur with disorders that persist despite active therapy. Further negative dynamics of these conditions indicates a gradual complication of the clinical picture of the disease as a whole.
It is important to distinguish OCD from other disorders that involve compulsions and rituals. In some cases, obsessive-compulsive disorder must be differentiated from schizophrenia, especially when the obsessive thoughts are unusual in content (eg, mixed sexual and blasphemous themes) or the rituals are exceptionally eccentric. The development of a sluggish schizophrenic process cannot be ruled out with the growth of ritual formations, their persistence, the emergence of antagonistic tendencies in mental activity (inconsistency of thinking and actions), and the uniformity of emotional manifestations. Prolonged obsessional states of a complex structure must be distinguished from the manifestations of paroxysmal schizophrenia. Unlike neurotic obsessive states, they are usually accompanied by a sharply increasing anxiety, a significant expansion and systematization of the circle of obsessive associations, which acquire the character of obsessions of "special significance": previously indifferent objects, events, random remarks of others remind patients of the content of phobias, offensive thoughts and thereby acquire in their view a special, menacing significance. In such cases, it is necessary to consult a psychiatrist in order to exclude schizophrenia. It can also be difficult to differentiate between OCD and conditions with a predominance of generalized disorders, known as Gilles de la Tourette's syndrome. Tics in such cases are localized in the face, neck, upper and lower extremities and are accompanied by grimaces, opening the mouth, sticking out the tongue, and intense gesticulation. In these cases, this syndrome can be excluded by the coarseness of movement disorders characteristic of it and more complex in structure and more severe mental disorders.
Speaking about hereditary predisposition to OCD, it should be noted that obsessive-compulsive disorders are found in approximately 5-7% of parents of patients with such disorders. Although this figure is low, it is higher than in the general population. While evidence for a hereditary predisposition to OCD is still uncertain, psychasthenic personality traits can be largely explained by genetic factors.
Approximately two-thirds of OCD patients improve within a year, more often by the end of this period. If the disease lasts more than a year, fluctuations are observed during its course - periods of exacerbations are interspersed with periods of improvement in health, lasting from several months to several years. The prognosis is worse if we are talking about a psychasthenic personality with severe symptoms of the disease, or if there are continuous stressful events in the patient's life. Severe cases can be extremely persistent; for example, a study of hospitalized patients with OCD found that three-quarters of them remained symptom-free 13 to 20 years later.
TREATMENT: BASIC METHODS AND APPROACHES
Despite the fact that OCD is a complex group of symptom complexes, the principles of treatment for them are the same. The most reliable and effective method of treating OCD is considered to be drug therapy, during which a strictly individual approach to each patient should be manifested, taking into account the characteristics of the manifestation of OCD, age, gender, and the presence of other diseases. In this regard, we must warn patients and their relatives against self-treatment. If any disorders similar to mental ones appear, it is necessary, first of all, to contact the specialists of the psycho-neurological dispensary at the place of residence or other psychiatric medical institutions to establish the correct diagnosis and prescribe competent adequate treatment. At the same time, it should be remembered that at present a visit to a psychiatrist does not threaten with any negative consequences - the infamous "accounting" was canceled more than 10 years ago and replaced by the concepts of consultative and medical care and dispensary observation.
When treating, it must be borne in mind that obsessive-compulsive disorders often have a fluctuating course with long periods of remission (improvement). The apparent suffering of the patient often seems to call for vigorous effective treatment, but the natural course of the condition must be kept in mind in order to avoid the typical error of over-intensive therapy. It is also important to consider that OCD is often accompanied by depression, the effective treatment of which often leads to an alleviation of obsessional symptoms.
The treatment of OCD begins with an explanation of the symptoms to the patient and, if necessary, with reassurance that they are the initial manifestation of insanity (a common concern for patients with obsessions). Those suffering from certain obsessions often involve other family members in their rituals, so relatives need to treat the patient firmly, but sympathetically, mitigating the symptoms as much as possible, and not aggravating it by excessive indulgence in the sick fantasies of patients.
The following therapeutic approaches exist for the currently identified types of OCD. Of the pharmacological drugs for OCD, serotonergic antidepressants, anxiolytics (mainly benzodiazepine), beta-blockers (to stop autonomic manifestations), MAO inhibitors (reversible) and triazole benzodiazepines (alprazolam) are most often used. Anxiolytic drugs provide some short-term relief of symptoms, but should not be given for more than a few weeks at a time. If anxiolytic treatment is required for more than one to two months, small doses of tricyclic antidepressants or small antipsychotics sometimes help. The main link in the treatment regimen for OCD, overlapping with negative symptoms or ritualized obsessions, are atypical antipsychotics - risperidone, olanzapine, quetiapine, in combination with either SSRI antidepressants or other antidepressants - moclobemide, tianeptine, or with high-potency benzodiazepine derivatives ( alprazolam, clonazepam, bromazepam).
Any comorbid depressive disorder is treated with antidepressants at an adequate dose. There is evidence that one of the tricyclic antidepressants, clomipramine, has a specific effect on obsessive symptoms, but the results of a controlled clinical trial showed that the effect of this drug is insignificant and occurs only in patients with distinct depressive symptoms.
In cases where obsessive-phobic symptoms are observed within the framework of schizophrenia, intensive psychopharmacotherapy with proportional use of high doses of serotonergic antidepressants (fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, sertraline, paroxetine, citalopram) has the greatest effect. In some cases, it is advisable to connect traditional antipsychotics (small doses of haloperidol, trifluoperazine, fluanxol) and parenteral administration of benzodiazepine derivatives.
One of the main tasks of the specialist in the treatment of OCD is to establish fruitful cooperation with the patient. It is necessary to instill in the patient faith in the possibility of recovery, to overcome his prejudice against the "harm" caused by psychotropic drugs, to convey his conviction in the effectiveness of treatment, subject to the systematic observance of the prescribed prescriptions. The patient's faith in the possibility of healing must be supported in every possible way by the relatives of the OCD sufferer. If the patient has rituals, it must be remembered that improvement usually occurs when using a combination of the method of preventing a reaction with placing the patient in conditions that aggravate these rituals. Significant but not complete improvement can be expected in about two-thirds of patients with moderately heavy rituals. If, as a result of such treatment, the severity of rituals decreases, then, as a rule, the accompanying obsessive thoughts also recede. In panphobia, predominantly behavioral techniques are used to reduce sensitivity to phobic stimuli, supplemented by elements of emotionally supportive psychotherapy. In cases where ritualized phobias predominate, along with desensitization, behavioral training is actively used to help overcome avoidant behavior. Behavioral therapy is significantly less effective for obsessive thoughts that are not accompanied by rituals. Thought-stopping has been used by some experts for many years, but its specific effect has not been convincingly proven.
We have already noted that obsessive-compulsive disorder has a fluctuating (fluctuating) course and over time the patient's condition may improve regardless of which particular methods of treatment were used. Until recovery, patients can benefit from supportive conversations that provide continued hope for recovery. Psychotherapy in the complex of treatment and rehabilitation measures for patients with OCD is aimed at both correcting avoidant behavior and reducing sensitivity to phobic situations (behavioral therapy), as well as family psychotherapy to correct behavioral disorders and improve family relationships. If marital problems aggravate the symptoms, joint interviews with the spouse are indicated. Patients with panphobia (at the stage of the active course of the disease), due to the intensity and pathological persistence of symptoms, need both medical and social and labor rehabilitation. In this regard, it is important to determine adequate terms of treatment - long-term (at least 2 months) therapy in a hospital with subsequent continuation of the course on an outpatient basis, as well as taking measures to restore social ties, professional skills, family relationships. Social rehabilitation is a set of programs for teaching OCD patients how to behave rationally both at home and in a hospital setting. Rehabilitation is aimed at teaching social skills to properly interact with other people, vocational training, as well as skills necessary in everyday life. Psychotherapy helps patients, especially those who experience a sense of their own inferiority, treat themselves better and correctly, master ways to solve everyday problems, and gain confidence in their strength.
All of these methods, when used judiciously, can increase the effectiveness of drug therapy, but are not capable of completely replacing drugs. It should be noted that explanatory psychotherapy does not always help, and some patients with OCD even worsen because such procedures encourage them to think painfully and unproductively about the subjects discussed in the course of treatment. Unfortunately, science still does not know how to cure mental illness once and for all. OCD often has a tendency to recur, which requires long-term prophylactic medication.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Treatment
Great Thought is an obsessive compulsive disorder treatment program. We will relieve you of obsessive thoughts, movements and rituals. Let's get back to life!
Symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Frightening images and drives
- Compulsive acts (rituals)
- Intrusive check of one's own actions
- Fear of trouble, pollution or infection
- Inexplicable desire to count something
- Excessive organization and pedantry
- Perfectionism in relationships, work and even leisure
- "Stuck", "looping" on one's thoughts
You feel that over time your mood becomes worse: apathy, depression, obsessions increase, and rituals begin to fill all your free time or harm your physical health.
You may have had more than one meeting with psychologists, psychotherapists and psychiatrists. You are not given the "scary" psychiatric diagnoses of Schizophrenia or Bipolar Disorder, but are prescribed medication and psychotherapy nonetheless. However, such treatment cannot be called effective - the symptoms persist and only aggressive pharmacotherapy temporarily reduces anxiety.
What is obsessive-compulsive disorder?
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a syndrome characterized by the presence of obsessive thoughts (obsessions) to which a person reacts with certain actions (compulsions). The causes of the disorder are rarely superficial. The syndrome is also accompanied by the development of obsessive memories and various pathological phobias. May be chronic, episodic or progressive.
Obsession - obsessive thought, persistent desire for something, uncontrollable and accompanied by anxiety and intense anxiety. In an attempt to cope with such thoughts, a person resorts to committing compulsions.
Compulsion - an irresistible need to perform certain actions (rituals), which can be assessed by the person himself as irrational or meaningless, and the internal need to perform them is forced and is the result of obsessive ideas.
Common examples of OCD manifestations
- An exaggerated sense of danger. Fear of the materiality of thoughts:
- "now I will lose control and hurt my loved ones"
- "something terrible is about to happen, I can feel it"
- "I shouldn't think like that, all this will come true because of me"
- Pathological fear of pollution. Thirst for Purity
- Excessive perfectionism, exaggerated responsibility - "everything must be done perfectly", "everything depends on me, mistakes are unacceptable"
How does this painful algorithm work?
Most people have unwanted or intrusive thoughts quite often, but all sufferers of the disorder greatly exaggerate their importance. Fear of one's own thoughts leads to attempts to neutralize the negative feelings that arise from obsessions, for example by avoiding thought-provoking situations or by engaging in "rituals" of excessive self-cleansing or prayer.
As we noted earlier, repetitive avoidance behavior can "get stuck", "loop", that is, have a tendency to repeat. The cause of obsessive-compulsive disorder is the interpretation of intrusive thoughts as catastrophic and true.
If you periodically experience over the years:
- Constant or fluctuating anxiety
- The need to perform certain ritualized actions
- A persistent decline in the quality of life due to the need to avoid certain thoughts and actions, places and events
And you are also persecuted:
- Significant problems in studies and career
- Failure to establish a serious relationship
- Constant criticism and pressure from relatives
- Many senseless activities
- Excessive involvement in computer games and the Internet, alcohol
- Loneliness and isolation
We strongly recommend that you do not delay seeking help and that you complete a remedial program. Consultations and psychotherapeutic sessions according to the program are held several times a week, until the relief of severe symptoms, then the frequency of meetings with specialists is reduced to 2–3 per month. Count on the fact that in the end we will deal with your problem together.
Treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder in Neuro-Psi
Every day the specialists of the NEURO-PSI clinic analyze the world practice in the field of psychiatry and psychotherapy. The goal is the impartial selection and implementation of those methods of treatment and psychological assistance, the effectiveness of which has been convincingly proven in independent studies.
We are guided by the principles of evidence-based medicine and use as a basic method of treatment a psychotherapeutic paradigm, the effectiveness of which has been widely recognized by the professional community.
1. What is the essence of the obsessive-compulsive disorder treatment program
Since obsessive thoughts, rituals and conditions are only symptoms of mental dysfunction, the root cause must be treated in order to achieve a stable result. A comprehensive work is carried out with the client, taking into account the main factors that create well-being.
The main emphasis is on teaching the client how to properly respond to his thoughts, emotions, inner feelings and interpretation of external events.
All types of psychotherapeutic and drug treatments serve the same goal: to achieve the best result in the shortest possible time. At the same time, by coordinating the efforts of specialists in various fields, the most complete coverage of all types of mental illnesses, disorders and disorders is possible.
2. What treatments are used
- Cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy (Сognitive-Behavioral Therapy).
- Schema Therapy.
- Reality Therapy.
- Choice Theory.
- Rational pharmacotherapy.
- Psychopharmacotherapy (if indicated)
- Biofeedback Therapy
- Rational psychocorrection of stress
- Jacobson progressive muscle relaxation.
- Traditional and modern gymnastic systems, relaxation techniques.
- Breathing techniques .
- Stress exposure.
- Teaching self-control.
- Lifestyle modification
- Working with bad habits.
- Correction of the diet.
- Professional and social adaptation.
3. How is the treatment under the program
Each treatment program at the NEURO-PSI clinic consists of four stages:
- work with disease symptoms,
- work with the causes of the disease,
- consolidation of the achieved results.
Work efficiency is increased by dividing the treatment process into a predetermined number of sessions, at convenient times and without hospitalization. This means that each program is adapted to the problem that the client has addressed.
The program method of treatment is predictable, time-limited, productive, and, most importantly, understandable for the client.
Of course, the treatment takes place in a comfortable mode without interruption from work, study or family. Specialists of various profiles will work with you (team method). This is necessary to minimize the risk of diagnostic errors that could lead to the adoption of a suboptimal treatment plan.
Improvements in well-being and mood (healing) occur in stages: after the decrease in emotional problems, bodily symptoms decrease. Working with the causes (etiology) of obsessive-compulsive disorder helps to avoid relapses in the future.
4. What are the results and prognosis?
Upon completion of the program, you get rid of obsessive thoughts and rituals, fear of pollution, unmotivated fears, panic attacks and multiple vegetative symptoms (sudden jumps in blood pressure, heart palpitations, dizziness, nausea).
According to statistics, the effectiveness of the methods used approaches 100% if all recommendations of specialists are followed.
Skills you acquire during the program:
- self-control and self-regulation
- constructive analysis of the state of the organism
- understanding one's own mental and emotional sphere
- ability to control one's attention
- ability to act consciously in stressful situations
Significantly improves the emotional and physical condition, gaining self-confidence, in the future.