A mental health condition that can be defined by compulsive and obsessive behaviors, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder affects 2.2 million adults in the United States. These repetitive behaviors can become so frequent that they start to interfere with an individual’s daily activities, such as work, school, or social interactions.
Gemini Health provides behavioral and mental health services to the community. We offer a variety of treatment options for anxiety and related disorders, such as OCD, to meet individual needs and concerns.
What is OCD?
OCD or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a mental health disorder that affects 2.2 million adults or about 1% of the US population, according to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America. OCD is found equally among men and women, with the average age of onset being 19. The American Psychiatric Association classifies OCD as “a disorder in which people have recurring, unwanted thoughts, ideas or sensations (obsessions) that make them feel driven to do something repetitively (compulsions).” These repetitive behaviors can become so frequent that they start to interfere with an individual’s daily activities, such as work, school, or social interactions.
While many people have intrusive thoughts or repetitive behavior, they do not typically have any bearing on someone’s ability to get through the day. Anyone with OCD will feel a compulsion to act out their behaviors, and if they don’t it can cause them great distress (until they finally give in to the compulsion). It is a vicious cycle that is exhausting and very debilitating.
Symptoms of OCD
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder can be broken down by obsessive symptoms and compulsive symptoms. Not everyone will experience both and might only deal with obsessions or compulsions.
- Contamination: Fear of being contaminated by people or things in the environment.
- Some examples are body fluids, germs or disease, asbestos or mold, dirt, cleaners, or solvents.
- Losing Control: Fear of acting on an impulse.
- Some examples are of hurting oneself, violent or horrific images in one’s head, blurting out obscenities or insults, or stealing things.
- Harm: Fear of causing something bad to happen or harm to someone else.
- Some examples are causing a fire or for someone to fall.
- Perfectionism: Resulting from a fear of negative consequences of actions.
- Some examples are concerns about evenness or exactness, fear of forgetting important information, an inability to throw things away, fear of losing something.
- Sexual Thoughts: Unwanted or pervasive thoughts about sexual acts.
- Some examples are forbidden sexual images, impulses towards others, aggressive sexual behavior towards others.
- Washing and Cleaning: Needing to constantly wash and clean things.
- Some examples are excessively washing one’s hands, excessively showering or grooming oneself, excessively cleaning household items or other things.
- Checking: Constantly checking on things to make sure nothing bad has happened.
- Some examples are checking that you did not harm yourself or others, checking that you did not mess something up.
- Repeating: Repetitively acting out certain behaviors.
- Some examples are rereading or rewriting something, repeating typical behaviors (walking in and out of a room, getting out of bed), repeating bodily actions (tapping, throat-clearing, sniffing), and repetitive actions for the “perfect” number of times.
- Other Compulsions: Typical compulsions that fall outside the groupings just listed.
- Mentally reviewing the day, mentally reviewing specific actions, counting until hitting a good number, avoiding situations that might trigger other compulsions.
What Causes OCD
Medical professionals still do not fully understand what causes OCD, but there is some consensus that biological factors, such as brain chemistry and genetics, play a role. In this case, brain functioning is impaired by an issue with the neurotransmitter known as serotonin. This is a chemical, and key hormone that involves mood regulation and overall feelings of well-being. Brain scans have shown it to be a contributing issue, but researchers are still inconclusive in whether it is the main cause.
There is also research that shows that OCD does run in families. However, it is not clear exactly how these genes are triggered and turned on, like if it is due to trauma or an illness. Stress might be a potential trigger and it definitely can make symptoms worse.
It should also be noted that children sometimes develop OCD after having a streptococcal (strep) infection, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. If a child already has OCD then it may become exasperated after they have a strep infection. This is known as PANDAS, or Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections.
Effective Treatments for OCD
There is no cure for OCD, but it can be managed through a combination of medicine and therapy. Treatment will most likely be lifelong.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: A form of psychotherapy that combines key aspects of behavior therapy (therapy targeted towards the way people act) and cognitive therapy (therapy targeted towards the way people think). The objective of this therapy is to change thought patterns and behaviors that trigger OCD symptoms.
Exposure Therapy: The most effective form of CBT for treating OCD. This type of therapy is designed to show you that you can control your thoughts and actions. With exposure therapy, your OCD therapist will place you in a situation that triggers the obsessions and will ask you not to give in to the compulsions that may ease the anxiety. For example, if you have a fear of germs then your therapist may ask you to expose yourself to something that would normally trigger a compulsion and wait longer to do the action, and gradually increase the response time until you have conquered the fear and compulsion.
Medication: Doctors typically prescribe a type of medication known as Selective Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). This is a powerful medication that is meant to lift your mood by evening out the chemicals in the brain. Typical medicines include Lexapro, Prozac, and Zoloft.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Treatment in Maryland
Gemini Health provides therapy services to those who are interested in getting treatment for OCD. Our office offers a free consultation, where you will receive a mental health assessment with one of our professional therapists. This consultation should only take an hour and the therapist will make a recommendation for different therapy approaches based on your specific needs and wants. A person-centered plan is designed to help you meet your goals while providing effective treatment. Once this is done then you may start a group or individual therapy.
We Offer the following treatment options:
- Outpatient Therapy: Unlike inpatient therapy, which requires people to move into a facility, our outpatient therapy program allows people to stay at home and in their community while they work on their issues.
- Tele-Counseling: We offer the option of virtual counseling for all clients in our Outpatient therapy or intensive Outpatient therapy.
- Intensive Outpatient Therapy: A course of treatment geared towards treating a wide variety of conditions. Clients who are suffering from addiction, depression, anxiety, and trauma can find this form of treatment more effective.
- Psychosocial Rehabilitation Programs: Individual and group sessions that focus on self-care skills, establishing interpersonal communication, and developing healthy social skills.
We strive to address individual needs by giving patients a safe and discreet place to work through things. By equipping you with the proper tools and resources you need then you will have the confidence to continue to address issues as they come and set yourself up for a successful future.
Ready for OCD Relief?
If you are interested in seeking help for OCD and any related symptoms you may be experiencing then reach out to Gemini Health for the appropriate treatment. Our healthcare professionals are highly skilled and experienced to provide you with quality health services. Plus, there are no wait times to join groups. Call (301) 363-1063 and speak to our staff to schedule your appointment today!