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Suite 588, Canton, MA 02021

Phone: (781) 713-4001 

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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

 

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a condition in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions) that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over. Obsessions are thoughts, images or impulses that occur over and over again and feel outside of the person’s control. Individuals with OCD do not want to have these thoughts and find them disturbing. In most cases, people with OCD realize that these thoughts don’t make any sense. Obsessions are typically accompanied by intense and uncomfortable feelings such as fear, disgust, doubt, or a feeling that things have to be done in a way that is “just right.” Compulsions are repetitive behaviors or thoughts that a person uses with the intention of neutralizing, counteracting, or eliminating their obsessions. People with OCD realize this is only a temporary solution but without a better way to cope they rely on the compulsion as a temporary escape. Approximately 1% of the US population is diagnosed with OCD each year.

                                    SYMPTOMS

                                    People with OCD may have symptoms of obsessions, compulsions, or both.

Obsession Symptoms

  • Fear of germs or contamination

  • Unwanted forbidden or taboo thoughts involving sex, religion, and harm

  • Aggressive thoughts towards others or self

  • Having things symmetrical or in a perfect order

  • Concern with getting a physical illness or disease (not by contamination, e.g. cancer)

  • Superstitious ideas about lucky/unlucky numbers or certain colors

Compulsion Symptoms

  • Excessive cleaning and/or handwashing

  • Ordering and arranging things in a particular, precise way

  • Repeatedly checking on things, such as repeatedly checking to see if the door is locked or that the oven is off

  • Mental review of events to prevent harm (to oneself others, to prevent terrible consequences)

  • Praying to prevent harm (to oneself others, to prevent terrible consequences)

  • Counting while performing a task to end on a “good,” “right,” or “safe” number

  • “Cancelling” or “Undoing” (example: replacing a “bad” word with a “good” word to cancel it out)

  • Repeating activities in “multiples” (examples: doing a task three times because three is a “good,” “right,” “safe” number)

TREATMENT

OCD is treated with psychotherapy, medications, or a combination of the two. We use a variety of evidence-based psychotherapy treatments, such as  Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which is an empirically supported treatment that focuses on modifying problematic thoughts and behaviors that contribute to and/or maintain panic attacks. Research shows that certain types of psychotherapy, including CBT can be as effective as medication for many individuals. Research also shows that a type of CBT called Exposure and Response Prevention (EX/RP) is the most effective in reducing compulsive behaviors in OCD, even in people who did not respond well to medications. EX/RP entails the client being exposed to their fears (e.g., germ contamination) while refraining from their compulsive avoidance behaviors. By doing this, the client starts to realize that feared stimuli are not in fact dangerous and their anxiety reduces.

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