When seeking OCD treatment, many become obsessed about researching the topic. Typically those armed with knowledge have the upper hand, yet what starts out as great idea becomes excessive and stops people from taking action. Reading the same types of material over and over again becomes a safety net.
What to keep in mind when seeking OCD Treatment
When the obsessions become too intense, the mind looks for the simplest answer it can find, something familiar to that persons way of thinking. Often this becomes what’s been advertised the most, so it’s not surprising medication has become the first approach recommended for OCD treatment.
Yet it doesn’t mean OCD treatment should begin with medication. Numerous studies find SRI’s and antidepressants to be inadequate solutions for long term change. For the vast majority of people with OCD, some other form of OCD treatment will be required for any real and effective change to take place.
When they work, SRI’s and antidepressants can be wonderful, especially if side effects are minimal. Yet SRI’s and antidepressants only address the symptoms of OCD. To often they are a short term solution to a larger problem. When the medication wears off, the symptoms return. The suffering may be minimized, but the core issues still persist and so do the unwanted thoughts.
Making Valued Choices
Antidepressants can buffer stress and change surface reactions, but are not meant to be long term answers for coping with life situations. They distance internal conflicts and sensitivities, but don’t help the person work through setbacks, concerns and discomforts. SRI’s don’t release emotional attachments or limiting beliefs. They may temporarily disrupt certain brain patterns, but it won’t be the answer for needed changes.
Effective therapy on the other hand focuses on changing patterns, behaviors and how someone processes thoughts and emotions. It is well know that OCD treatment strategies must minimize stress. This may require life style changes, not just implementing cookie cutter techniques.
Since everyone does OCD a little differently, no one type of therapy works for everyone. This can be a problematic for those wanting certainty. They already have enough uncertainty dealing with their obsessions. Thus many will avoid seeking any form of OCD treatment, because it feels safer than trying something different
What feels safe?
Those suffering from anxiety disorders have a high need to feel safe, meaning they don’t venture into the unknown. But change requires one to step beyond ones comfort zone, outside preset patterns.
It’s been estimated that one third of all OCD patients will refuse ERP (exposure and response prevention), even though it is one of the most common treatments for OCD. The overwhelm of facing their fears head on seems too intense, especially if they already feel like they are at wits end.
Many who attempt ERP become adept at delaying obsessions till after the therapy or transform their compulsions into mental processes they can control during therapy. They are not trying to deceive the therapist, it is just an unconscious mechanism of resisting change. (1) So clients finish their OCD treatment, saying they have improved while still dealing with obsessions. They end up feeling like failures, believing nothing will help them change
So what will make effective OCD treatment?
Therapist must be able to show the clients how their thoughts processes can create choice and not be trapped by dead end loops of stagnant thinking and negative emotions. One must understand, those with OCD do not trust their own internal processes. They have been at odds with their thoughts and emotions. This lack of self-trust must be addressed. This is especially important for those who have done years of OCD treatment and are still stuck. They often have given up believing they are capable of change.
Any OCD treatment needs to break the change process down into doable steps. Those with OCD already tend to be overwhelmed, so the process must be within the grasp of the individual client
While OCD is often thought of as a thinking problem, it is actually driven by emotions. If the emotional aspects are overlooked and the treatment becomes of exercise of mental processes trying to control emotional reactions, the person is still in battle them self.
Look for a therapist who can help
- Regain a balance in emotional and mental processes
- Resolve core issues or sensitivities supporting the OCD? (there are usually quite a few)
- Support the clients needs while helping them make the needed changes to diminish obsessions
- Break down persistent habits or obsessions
- Recognize subconscious deceptions the client has been feeding themselves
- Build trust
Many with OCD want immediate results and who can blame them. Overwhelming unwanted thought patterns can be unbearable to live with. All or nothing thinking patterns set in. But sometimes you have to start by realizing small steps are needed to achieve a healthy mindset. Some therapists tell their clients to think about something different, to control their thoughts, just try harder. This is not OCD treatment, just ineffective advice.
Of course there are economic considerations. Unaffordable treatment only creates additional stress and it is a reality many seeking treatment will have to contemplate. Unfortunately, avoiding treatment only ensures the OCD will continue on its current course.
Anyone seeking OCD treatment should recognize some personal changes in how they perceive life must be made. It can seem scary. Making improvements in oneself isn’t supposed to be easy, but that doesn’t make it impossible. Stepping into the unknown can feel risky, but staying stuck patterns can be downright debilitating.
Designed Thinking has been helping clients for over 15 years. OCD treatment is just a phone call away. 866-718-9995
For more information on the differences between choosing medication or therapy, click here.
(1) Cordioli AV, Heldt E, Bochi DB, Margis R, Sousa MB, Tonello JF, Teruchkin B, Kapczinski F. Cognitive-behavioral group therapy in obsessive-compulsive disorder: a clinical trial. Rev Bras Psiquiatr. 2002;24(3):113-