It's Not Impossible After All - Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Treatments

Posted by mentalhealthtv on December 6th, 2019

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder can be difficult for those that don't experience it to understand. The term, 'OCD', is often thrown around and used as an adjective (incorrectly). Some people that use the term don't even know what each letter stands for. For those that suffer with OCD, it can seem impossible to beat.

OCD is a disorder characterised by intrusive thoughts, and compulsions to reduce the anxiety associated with these thoughts. Compulsions can be anything from counting, tapping, checking or not so obvious compulsions like ruminating. Compulsions reduce anxiety temporarily, however, the more these compulsions are performed, the higher the anxiety if the person cannot perform them. Not performing a ritual could send somebody with OCD into an anxious spiral.

OCD is usually treated with cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and exposure response prevention therapy (ERPT). CBT is a talking therapy, in which the patient records their thoughts or actions and the feelings that accompany them. The patient will then discuss this with their therapist and think of ways that they could change their negative thought patterns. ERPT is when the patient has to gradually reduce acting on their compulsions. This could begin with a 10 minute delay after the urge to perform a compulsion, and build on that. In our programme on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Treatments, we show the process of ERPT with a patient who's OCD revolves mainly around the fear of peanuts. The patient is convinced that if she touches peanuts, she could die - this is despite the fact she has no nut allergy. At first, she is told to hold a Snickers bar, whilst still in its wrapper. The level of discomfort she feels is very obvious in her body language. However, after a few sessions, she gets to the point that she can eat the bar.

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