Treatments for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

One of the psychological conditions that registers the largest number of internationally recognized cases is obsessive compulsive disorder . It is characterized by presenting a series of symptoms which can be identified from an early age, however eventually these increase in intensity over the years.

Normally the diagnosis is made in people between the ages of 15 and 35 , but this does not mean that it is a condition that can occur in patients belonging to other age ranges. It is also important to mention that in some cases the influence of the rhythm of life and other external influences is decisive.

OCD affects patients in a way that they experience thoughts, ideas, and mental images which periodically appear until they become obsessions. These same influence to adopt behaviors and rituals which are practiced repetitively , these are usually described as a direct response to an obsession in order to reduce anxiety. They are also used as a resource to prevent some type of event from becoming compulsions.

Because this condition notably affects the social, work and personal life of patients; it is advisable to have professional medical help to treat these cases. It has been observed that cases that have been treated in a timely manner have a greater chance of observing an improvement in symptoms in the medium and short term. However, it is considered that this condition does not have a definitive cure, so in the long term the patient may require lifelong psychological care .

The currently most recommended treatments for obsessive compulsive disorder are described and discussed below. These same show positive results applied to the majority of these cases, but it is also important to remember that some patients may require other types of medical attention.

Tips and exercises

For the treatment of obsessive compulsive disorder, prior psychological evaluation is usually applied before choosing a particular treatment. It is an essential step in order to understand the current state of health of the patient, it also allows to specify which are the factors that affect the most and that must be treated as a priority.

The most advisable thing is to help the patient to put into practice strategies and tools that allow him to deal with his obsessions on his own. This means that in the long term you will be able to control anxiety and rituals that limit your ability to lead a normal life.

For this, the treatment will be focused on cognitive behavioral orientation , a structured treatment is created from three stages which are: thoughts, emotions and behavior. These three elements will be modified progressively, decreasing the intensity of the symptoms and observing an improvement. Eventually patients will notice that they practice checking rituals and other obsessions to a lesser extent.

Better results are seen when behavioral therapy is combined with medication. Behavioral therapy is popularly known by the name of cognitive behavioral psychotherapy, this is a widely used psychological resource because it allows changing thoughts and feelings from changes in behavior.

Generally, patients are gradually exposed to their fears and obsessions. As a result, it is observed that these same individuals are more tolerant and capable of facing these situations in a more positive way. Consequently, the frequency of performing rituals as well as episodes of anxiety decreases.

In order to have better results, the necessary resources that help in the prevention of responses must be taken into consideration . Understanding it differently, rituals must be blocked as well as avoidance behaviors . To prevent this condition from getting worse, it will be treated systematically, but also maintaining a comprehensive and logical posture. The therapist you have commissioned must have sufficient experience in treating OCD.

As for medication, the most common is to administer selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. The effect they have on the body is to reduce the urge to perform certain rituals, in the same way they intervene so that anxiety decreases significantly. Certain types of antidepressants are also usually integrated into these treatments, however it is important to take into account the side effects which can be insomnia or complications in managing emotions.

It is also important to consider that the patient begins to integrate the practice of relaxation techniques into their daily life . There are different types of techniques, among which meditation and yoga stand out for example. Patients will maintain a calmer mental state, this factor is decisive to be able to face situations that normally generate stress or anxiety.

Most common treatments and most recommended methodology 

To choose the most appropriate treatment considering the needs of each patient, it is necessary to carry out a prior evaluation. Controversy still exists regarding the efficacy of the currently most widely used treatments. Some experts believe that the solution for this type of disorder is found only in Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

However, positive results have also been observed in the application of the following treatments: drug therapy, psychoanalytic therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy as well as electroconvulsive therapy.

What are considered the most widely used and important therapies today are described below. These are usually recommended to treat most patients, however on some occasions better results can be seen when combined. They are as follows:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

This type of therapy turns out to be very useful in the case of patients who have greater difficulties with intrusive thoughts. Considering that these are normal mental elements, the problem arises when the patient has difficulties to interpret them correctly.

Those who suffer from OCD consider that these are premonitory signs or indicators, they can even be interpreted as an expression of internal concerns. When trying to prevent or eradicate these ideas, the patient begins to practice avoidance behaviors or rituals as a way to deal with them.

With this type of treatment the patient learns to internalize and correctly interpret these thoughts , above all he understands that it is not necessary to put these ideas into action and that they can be ignored. To do this, cognition is restructured so that the subject to adopt new behavioral and learning techniques.

Psychoanalytic Therapy

This type of therapy is applied in obsessive neurosis characterized by multiple neurotic thoughts that generate suffering on a psychic level. This means that the patient is more sensitive to compulsive ideas, distressing thoughts, fear of doubts and feelings of guilt.

For the application of this treatment, the psychodynamic factors that influence the symptoms must be taken into account . One of the ways to apply this therapy is through free association, for this the patient communicates to the therapist voluntarily and spontaneously what are the feelings, sensations, thoughts and desires that affect them the most.

This is a very useful technique because it allows you to add a great variety of other techniques as support. In addition, communication between the patient and the therapist is stimulated by spontaneity during the dialogue. There is no type of discrimination and there is a greater opportunity for self-observation , but the most important thing to note is that the influence of suggestion and one’s own expectations is avoided.

Exposure therapy with response prevention

This is the ideal choice when the obsessive compulsive disorder is characterized by the predominance of the compulsive component . Through its application, the aim is to ensure that the patient develops sufficient tolerance to the anxiety that is generated from exposure to the stimulus that causes it. As usually happens in these cases, patients resort to the practice of certain rituals that allow them to mitigate anxiety, the objective is to establish limits in the compulsive response of these obsessions.

It is also a useful technique to correct misconceptions or overrated ideas . It is usually combined with drug treatment through serotonin reuptake inhibitors, such as selective inhibitors (SSRIs) from paroxetine to fluoxetine, sertraline, escitalopram and also fluvoxamine.

You can also resort to the use of treatments for deep brain stimulation, this is more common in those cases that are more resistant. They are only recommended for certain circumstances in which the use of electroconvulsive therapy and also transcranial magnetic stimulation as well as psychosurgery is recommended.

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Alexa Clark specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She has experience in listening and welcoming in Individual Therapy and Couples Therapy. It meets demands such as generalized anxiety, professional, love and family conflicts, stress, depression, sexual dysfunction, grief, and adolescents from 15 years of age. Over the years, She felt the need to conduct the psychotherapy sessions with subtlety since She understands that the psychologist acts as a facilitator of self-understanding and self-acceptance, valuing each person's respect, uniqueness, and acceptance.

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