OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) Treatment

OCD is a clinical disorder which affects between 1 and 2% of the population. It is a debilitating and paralyzing mental health disorder. People with OCD experience intensely negative, repetitive, and intrusive thoughts, combined with a chronic feeling of doubt or danger (obsessions). They often repeat an action, again and again (compulsions) in order to quell the thought or turn off the anxiety. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder makes you stuck in a cycle of distressing obsessions and compulsions.

At Refresh Recovery, we provide evidence based treatment in San Diego for disorders such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorders and want to know your needs and objectives as well as create a sustainable approach to transition positively with the tools needed to thrive in life.

OCD Treatment

What is OCD

ocd food disorder cutting board veggies mental health obsession

Treatment OCD at Refresh Recovery

One of the greatest challenges faced by people with OCD is the need to fight both the all-pervasive stigma of mental health disorders and the widely held belief that OCD is a superficial or even quirky problem that does not go beyond excessive hand washing. Many people now use the term a bit OCD-ish without understanding the serious nature of the disorder in its acute versions.

Despite all this, there is an average delay of more than 11 years between the onset of OCD and treatment being received. This happens because of the fear that they will be institutionalized, a fear of the stigma associated with mental health disorders or a simple belief that no one can help them. This decade of pointless misery and isolation brought about by a disorder that could be successfully managed.

OCD does not just affect the individual with the disorder but draws in their friends and families, employers and colleagues. OCD rituals can take a huge toll on family life and drive a wedge between parents and children, husbands and wives who often feel unable to acknowledge the pain a loved one is experiencing, let alone how to support them.

What is OCD?

OCD is a very debilitating and often misunderstood condition, so much so that many hide it for years or decades. In fact, it’s much more common than originally thought, and estimates are between 1-2% of the population. The good news is that OCD is a treatable condition, with both therapy and medication available that can help with management and recovery.

 Obsessive thoughts

Obsessions happen when you become overly preoccupied with intrusive thoughts, misinterpreting them as indicators of risk and responsibility.

Intrusive thoughts are random and automatic images, worries or feelings that everyone experiences as part of being human. They are the result of the brain constantly scanning for danger or interest and hold no meaning in themselves. They are hypothetical in nature, so most people describe them with the phrase What if… 

If you have OCD, obsessions around one or more themes cause you to particularly notice those intrusive thoughts and become very anxious and distressed by them. These random thoughts feel more and more meaningful and come on more often and loudly through the attention and preoccupation. What defines an obsession is that you cannot let go of your worry until you feel completely sure that it faced. Any uncertainty or doubt around it feels unbearable.

Obsessions are always about unwanted or feared things and make you feel that you are responsible for resolving the issue, preventing harm and finding the answer.

man stress with working job at laptop desk major of depressive disorder obsessive compulsive treating rehabilitation
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Its Effects

More on OCD

Compulsions are behaviors that a person with OCD takes part in to get some relief from the obsessions and anxiety.

Like obsessions, these can take any form, and the OCD cycle will be the same no matter what they look like. The actions or rituals most associated with OCD are visible ones, such as hoarding, checking, cleaning or arranging things. Most people with OCD, though, also experience mental or invisible compulsions such as:

  • Rumination (going over and over thoughts in your mind, possibly trying to rationalize or disprove them)
  • Checking thoughts or memories
  • Asking for reassurance from others
  • Avoiding situations or people that bring on the intrusive feelings
  • Neutralizing a bad thought with a good one
  • You might feel a need to ask for reassurance or get people to check things for you
  • Recovery begins with recognizing the symptoms and aquiring tools for interventions and healthy coping mechanisms that are provided at Refresh Treatment
  • In case of dual diagnosis with other mental health disorders such as depression or substance use disorders, approach for both disorders are attended individually for awareness and effective treatment

Compulsions

Compulsions can have a seemingly logical connection to the topic of someone’s obsessions, like hiding knives because of a fear of stabbing someone. They can also be completely unrelated, though, like wearing matching clothes to reduce the likelihood of one’s house burning down. It helps to remember that it is a feeling of responsibility and doubt which drives compulsions, not logic. In fact, even if the compulsion seems logical, the person will not stop until they have fulfilled a certain requirement or until it feels exactly right. This might take several hours into the ritual. No matter how rational or irrational someone’s worries or safety behaviors seem, using logic will not break the cycle.

Causes of OCD

Like many other conditions, OCD is a mix of genets, psychological factors, and life experiences.

Psychological – Individual tendencies like being vulnerable to stress and anxiety, feeling overly responsible, or a sense of perfectionism could be tied into why a person gets so stuck in the OCD cycle.

Environmental – The experiences and societal values someone is exposed to in their life can inform assumptions or pressures that become a part of the person’s OCD cycle.

OCD Symptoms

Sometimes when our mind is filled with very upsetting thoughts, we can try to take actions that will bring us relief and make the thoughts go away. We might start to believe that these actions will get rid of our anxiety or make these thoughts go away. Sometimes having rituals that calm us down helps. But when these rituals or habits become ‘compulsions’, we think we must do them. We might start to believe that if we do not do them, something bad will happen to us, or to the people around us.

With OCD, often our compulsive habits or rituals end up making us feel worse. This is because once the ritual is finished, anxious thoughts come rushing back again, sometimes even more extreme. This is how some people get trapped in a cycle of doing the same action again and again, unable to stop.

OCD rituals can be obvious to other people (like checking if doors are locked) or they can happen inside your head (like counting things or trying to counteract negative thoughts with positive ones).

There is a misconception that ‘being OCD’ is just about being tidy and ordered. Wrong!

OCD thoughts can come in all shapes and sizes and involve different types of habits and rituals. They often revolve around things like danger, dirt, pollution, or worries around sexuality and religion. Some people feel guilty, or even ashamed of their thoughts.

More on OCD

Previous definitions of OCD included that some people might experience only obsessions or only compulsions. It is now better understood that all people living with OCD experience both, albeit in less obvious ways.
Someone might perform compulsions that are not directly triggered by intrusive thoughts or obsessions, but this is because of the cycle becoming more automatic in the brain. In these cases, the obsession is no longer a fear of harm, for example, but a fear of the harm-based intrusive thoughts in themselves (obsessing about obsessing). The goal of the compulsions in this case is not to relieve anxiety, but to avoid it coming up at all.

Triggers and Impact

Even though OCD ranges from mild to extreme, each person’s distress is very real. Everyone experiences obsessions and compulsions on occasion, but for the experience to be labelled disorder they must cause distress and impact noticeably on the person’s quality of life.

When someone lives with OCD, they do not experience their worries and rituals as quirks or annoyances, as they might look from the outside. The intensity of the anxiety and doubt that is felt on the inside is debilitating, exhausting, and chronic. The irrationality of the cycle gets confusing and horrifying. Furthermore, it can bring to feeling ashamed and isolated, or like you are losing touch with reality.

People living with OCD tend to hide symptoms because of the embarrassment someone feels about their irrational worries and behaviors, but also because of a fear that their intrusive thoughts might be misunderstood. Being aware of what is rational and what is not does not help reduce the anxiety of the OCD cycle, but it allows to choose what they show to others. 

You might stick to invisible compulsions when around other people as much as possible, or have an easier time holding back while you are out, and then get overwhelmed by anxiety and the need for compulsions when you get home. OCD is often referred to as the ‘hidden’ or ‘secret’ condition, and people who struggle with it might wait even decades, before seeking any support. Victims are told there is no help available or that they just need to learn to live with it. 

Some disorders related to obsessive–compulsive disorder like body dysmorphic disorder, hoarding disorder, excoriation disorder, or trichotillomania are considered separate disorders that require different and specific treatment.

Treating OCD in San Diego

If obsessive thoughts and habits start to take over your life, let us provide a personalized program at Refresh Recovery. There are reliable and proven treatments available for OCD. Recovery is possible with a caring and knowledgeable mental health professionals in the most aesthetic environment.

Contact Us