How Counseling Can Help Manage OCD

What is OCD or Obsessive-Compulsive Behavior?


OCD is a mental condition that is often treated successfully. Being overly focused on specific obsessive thoughts leading to irrational, compulsive behaviors is considered a chronic condition called OCD. Even though the person may realize the thoughts and behaviors are not logical, the urges are so overpowering they complicate daily life. Some examples of these actions are: double-checking the door locks, feeling compelled to wear certain clothing, or feeling obligated to perform certain rituals over and over. It can be anything that must be repeated to decrease the anxiety from the obsessive thoughts. Some feel impending doom if they do not complete the repetitive behavior. Many people who have OCD do seek counseling because the symptoms are so disruptive.


Different Types Of OCD


Although there are different types of OCD, the most recognizable include:

  • an obsession with the fear of germs, which triggers compulsive cleaning and hand washing
  • an obsession with symmetry or the need for perfectionism regarding order


What Are The Symptoms of OCD?


Stress, abuse, or crises can trigger OCD. The symptoms include obsessions and compulsions such as the fear of contamination, difficulty tolerating uncertainty, requiring perfect order, compulsive counting, fear of hurting self or others, and unwanted aggressive thoughts.


Often, OCD accompanies the following conditions:

  • attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Tourette syndrome
  • major depressive disorder
  • social anxiety disorder
  • eating disorders


Why Do I Have OCD?


Unfortunately, the cause of OCD is still unknown. Research has shown that parts of the brain may not respond correctly to serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical that is used by nerve cells for communication. Another factor to consider with OCD is genetics. If you have a family member with OCD (whether diagnosed or not), there is a 25% chance that other family members can have OCD as well.


Treatment Is Often Very Successful.


OCD does not have a cure, and it does not just disappear. However, it is controllable and treatable. Ususally, the treatment plan will combine both psycotherapy and medications for the most effective strategy. The antidepressants help to control the symptoms of OCD. However, talk therapy may be even more critical. The medications can help suppress the symptoms, which will then allow you to focus on the ever after tools that empower you to take your life back. A mental health professional such as a psychologist, therapist, or social worker will show you how to recognize the obsessive behaviors and change your thought patterns, allowing you more freedom to enjoy your life.


Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)


Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is a psychotherapy that helps to show you ways to think, act, and react to negative obsessions with more positive and productive thoughts and actions. CBT is a very effective therapy for many sufferers of OCD.


Exposure And Response Prevention (ERP)


With Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), the goal is to help the person cope with the obsessive thoughts and anxiety in different ways than continuing the compulsive behavior. This therapy gradually exposes the patient to the obsession or fear and teaches ways to refuse the compulsive behavior by consciously choosing a more positive alternative.


The National Institute of Mental Health is an excellent source for reading more about OCD and the available therapeutic treatments. 


If left untreated, OCD can be paralyzing to a healthy lifestyle. Seeking professional mental help earlier rather than later, is the key to taking your life back. There is no shame in finding help; there is only endless freedom to a better life quality.