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People often make fun of individuals who engage in organized behavior such as alphabetizing or who can be picky about different things in their home or life, labelling them as OCD. The truth, however, is that obsessive-compulsive disorder is an extremely serious personality disorder that can cause a great deal of problems for those who suffer from it.

Obsessions are unwanted, intrusive thoughts, urges, or images, the presence of which usually cause marked distress or anxiety. The dominant theme of the obsessive thoughts may be harm, risk to self or others, danger, contamination, doubt, loss, or aggression. Often patients try to ignore and/or suppress the thoughts, urges, or images. Or they try to neutralize them by performing a compulsion. Compulsions (often called rituals) are excessive, repetitive, purposeful behaviors that affected people feel they must do to prevent or reduce the anxiety caused by their obsessive thoughts or to neutralize their obsessions. Examples are:

  • Washing (eg, handwashing, showering)
  • Checking (eg, that the stove is turned off, that doors are locked)
  • Counting (eg, repeating a behavior a certain number of times)
  • Ordering (eg, arranging tableware or workspace items in a specific pattern

The obsessions and/or compulsions are time-consuming and cause patients significant distress or impairment in functioning; at their extreme, obsessions and compulsions may be incapacitating. Because people with this disorder may fear embarrassment or stigmatization, they often conceal their obsessions and rituals. Relationships may be disrupted, and performance in school or at work may decline. Depression is a common secondary feature.

We can help you to break free from your OCD.  Our trained therapist will assist you explore the underlying beliefs/fears, and identify “thinking traps” or cognitive distortions. We also follow the Graduated Exposure/Response Prevention – Gradually facing the situations that trigger your obsessions and then refraining from acting out the compulsions.  Healthy relaxation and self-soothing strategies are  used in place of the compulsions.

Undergoing treatment is hard work but with your determination, it can be very effective!  It is normal to need a lot of support and understanding as you go through this journey.  A therapist experienced in OCD can effectively guide you through the process, help you understand what to expect, and provide you with encouragement to keep going.

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