Understanding Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a type of mental illness characterized by uncontrollable thoughts and urges that result in repetitive actions, or compulsions, as a coping mechanism. There doesn’t seem to be one single cause of OCD; rather, it is thought to be the result of a combination of neurobiological, genetic, and environmental factors. According to one study, a lack of communication between different areas of the brain is suggested to contribute to the compulsive behaviors seen in those with OCD.
Helping Someone with OCD
For most people, occasionally fixating on certain thoughts or ideas is normal. However, in a person with OCD, these anxiety-producing thoughts and repetitive behaviors become so consuming and debilitating that they interfere with daily life. If someone you care about has been diagnosed with OCD, you may be feeling helpless and unsure of you can do to provide support. Listed here are three ways in which you can make sure your friend or family member with OCD feels supported and understood.
- Educate yourself. Having a clear understanding of what OCD is and how it feels to the person experiencing it is the first step in supporting your OCD-diagnosed friend or family member. You can do this by reading books or by checking out online resources such as the International OCD Foundation.
- Avoid criticizing and/or enabling OCD behaviors. Understand that the cycle of repetitive thoughts and behaviors that a person with OCD experiences is out of their control. Be patient and understanding of their rituals rather than critical. Research shows that criticism can actually increase OCD symptoms. Also, avoid interfering with or participating in their compulsive behaviors as this can make OCD symptoms worse. Instead, ensure them that you are doing your best to understand what they’re going through, and let them know that you support and care about them.
- Encourage professional treatment. Perhaps the best thing you can do for someone with OCD is to encourage them to seek professional treatment. Assure them that people with OCD can get better and that therapy is an essential part of that process. If your loved one is already in therapy, be supportive and encouraging by letting them know that you are proud of them for seeking help and making efforts toward improving their life.
How to Treat OCD
According to the International OCD Foundation, two of the most successful evidence-based treatments for OCD are cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and medication. These types of therapies can be integrated into a treatment plan by a licensed medical professional to help someone with OCD overcome their compulsive behaviors. Therapy will focus on gaining control over symptoms and changing the patterns of thinking that result in OCD behavior.
If you are currently suffering from OCD and considering seeking therapy, Dr. Alex Anastasiou is a top board-certified psychiatrist in the East Bay area specializing in treatments for OCD. With his extensive training in the fields of neurobiology and psychology, Dr. Anastasiou takes a whole-person comprehensive approach in developing an individualized treatment plan that will help you overcome your symptoms and improve your quality of life.
Contact Dr. Alex Anastasiou today and take the first step toward regaining control over your life….