All of us have random thoughts pop in our heads. Some of the thoughts may seem scary, anxiety-provoking, funny, painful, sad, and so on. An OCD sufferer continues to have scary or anxiety-provoking thoughts pop in their heads. Moreover, you may feel the need to get rid of the anxiety and the thoughts, figure out why you’re having the thoughts, or engage in some behaviors to get certainty that what you fear will not happen. In the long run, no amount of reassurance or compulsions will get rid of the anxiety and the thoughts. Being stuck in this cycle is OCD. The diagram below illustrates the OCD cycle.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Having thoughts, images, or impulses pop in your head that you can’t seem to get rid of, i.e. obsessions
The obsessions don’t make sense or you wish you could get rid of them
The obsessions lead to heightened anxiety
You feel the need to engage in a behavior or mental reassurance to get rid of the obsessions or anxiety, i.e. compulsions; you crave certainty
Your anxiety may go down momentarily after engaging in the compulsions but the obsessions come back
Your OCD may jump from one theme to the other
OCD is only limited by a person's imagination. Below are some common themes in OCD, not a comprehensive list -
Fear of germs, getting sick, making others sick, death
We can help:
Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) Treatment for OCD
Know that you’re not alone and you’re not crazy. There’s treatment and so there’s hope! We’re experts at treating all forms of OCD. ERP is the gold standard for treating OCD. We work on gradually and gently exposing you to thoughts, situations, and impulses that make you anxious and then we work on tools to help you refrain from ritualizing. Our goal is to teach you to accept uncertainty. In the process, you’re going to learn acceptance of having OCD, the anxiety that comes with it, and having the obsessions that you may believe are horrible. You will learn to stop ritualizing and deal with the obsessions and the anxiety more effectively. This may sound scary and overwhelming but we will work collaboratively towards progress. This process is going to help you reclaim your life and live according to your goals and values!
At Willow Anxiety & OCD, we are now using Virtual Reality Therapy as a form of treatment to supplement traditional ERP and successfully address symptoms of OCD. Learn more about this exciting new form of treatment VR.
Acceptance about having OCD and the specific obsessions
Exposure And Response Prevention
Exposure to feared situations and thoughts; refraining from engaging in rituals. Learning alternative strategies
VR enhanced exposures as needed
Learning to live with uncertainty which is at the crux of OCD
International OCD Foundation
Anxiety and Depression Association of America
Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies
Freedom from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: A Personalized Recovery Program for Living with Uncertainty, Updated Edition by Jonathan Grayson, PhD