The unrelenting intrusive thoughts and compulsions makes Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and disruptive and exhausting mental health condition. The severity of the disorder can vary greatly from person to person, but for those with severe, treatment-resistant OCD managing a normal life can be extraordinarily difficult if not impossible. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a complex but treatable psychiatric condition provided the person with OCD receives the proper medication and therapy.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder typically emerges in late childhood or early adolescence, and can grow worse over time if left untreated. The disorder can also be exacerbated by situations or events, such as the death of a loved one or an accident, which reinforces fears common to sufferers, such as disease or being the victim of a crime. OCD is closely associated with the umbrella of anxiety disorders, and like other mood disorders it has a genetic and hereditary component to it.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder sufferers experience recurring, persistent thoughts or impulses, and perform certain routines repeatedly. Obsessions can include fears (of contamination, of death, etc) or even intrusive mental images. Obsessions can also manifest as a fixation on symmetry or the overwhelming desire to know, remember, or document information. Like other psychological symptoms, these obsessions can be triggered by environmental cues like smells or places. The obsessions experienced by OCD sufferers can lead to a need for control or hyper vigilance, similar to those afflicted with PTSD.
In response to the excess anxiety brought on by obsessive thoughts, many individuals with OCD engage in ritualistic behaviors in order to reduce the anxiety. An example of this might be repeated hand-washing to prevent contamination from germs. People suffering from OCD may create rigid rules or systems in order to exact some sense of control in the face of crippling fear, fixation, or anxiety. This can include touching objects a certain number of times, constantly seeking reassurance from others, or repeating specific words or phrases. The relief brought by these habitual actions is short-lived, and they actually serve to reinforce the obsessive thought patterns that triggered them, leading to a vicious cycle.
Even severe cases of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder are treatable. OCD responds well to a number of psychotropic medications, including certain selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs. In addition, many of the anxiety management techniques used to treat generalized anxiety or panic disorders can also be used for OCD sufferers to help them manage their symptoms. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and other behavioral therapies like it are especially effective in the treatment of OCD. CBT assists patient in changing thought patterns and belief systems so they can respond in a healthier manner when triggered in the future. At the office of Raul J. Rodriguez, MD psychiatry, medication management, individual therapy & skills coaching, and group therapy are all employed as tools in treating Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
For individuals whose OCD has been deemed “treatment-resistant” (e.g. does not respond to medication or talk therapy) Dr. Rodriguez offers Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation therapy for treatment-resistant OCD. TMS therapy works by stimulating parts of the brain that have been structurally impacted by long-term anxiety using non-invasive magnetic pulses. With TMS, individuals are able to return to a normal baseline of functionality. It is recommended that patients interested in treatment for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder receive a psychiatric evaluation, to determine what course of treatment or combination of therapies would be most beneficial for their specific form of OCD.
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