OCD is a mental health disorder that can affect people of different ages, all religious and cultural backgrounds, and all socioeconomic groups. OCD or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is when an individual is caught in a loop or continuous cycle of obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are intrusive thoughts or images which are unwanted and occur over and over again. Obsessions cause a significant amount of negative and uncomfortable feelings. Compulsions are repeated behaviours by the individual in order to lessen the intense feelings of distress caused by the obsessions.
Oftentimes, OCD is used in everyday language and situations and has even become a part of today’s vernacular. People will describe themselves or others as “so OCD” about a variety of actions or behaviours. For example, “I’m so OCD about being on time” or “I’m obsessed with wearing the latest fashion trends.” The misconceptions of OCD don’t end there. For example, many people think OCD and its effects are limited to one specific subtype of OCD. It’s not uncommon to hear “OCD, isn’t that the thing when people like to wash their hands a lot?” As those who suffer from OCD, their family members, and those who work with people who suffer with it know very well, there is nothing positive or enjoyable about OCD, and there are multiple types of OCD.
The most evidence based and widely accepted form of treatment for OCD is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy with a strong emphasis on Exposure Response Prevention (ERP), for which I am trained. ERP allows people suffering with OCD to expose themselves to their obsessions in the safety of a therapeutic environment while at the same time attempting to not perform compulsions. In therapy, we work together and slowly face each fear one by one in a gradual and incremental manner. Through this process, individuals begin to slowly have lessened anguish from their obsessions and a decreased need to do the compulsions.
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