- What is OCD?
OCD is characterized by recurrent thoughts that are experienced as intrusive and typically inappropriate and that cause marked distress (i.e., obsessions), by repetitive behaviors (e.g., hand washing, ordering, checking) aimed at reducing the associated anxiety (i.e., compulsions), or by a combination of both. To meet criteria, the obsessions or compulsions must cause marked distress, take more than 1 hour per day, or significantly interfere with the individual’s normal routine or functioning.
- How can OCD be treated?
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and a specific type of CBT known as Exposure Therapy, is very effective in ameliorating symptoms of OCD. Once adequate coping skill work has been done and an individual can tolerate a certain amount of anxiety, the individual is asked to gradually confront the anxiety-provoking stimuli (note: this could be gradually working towards touching an allegedly contaminated object as in “in vivo exposure” or gradually confronting a distressing thought as in “imaginal exposure”). As the individual successfully confronts his/her fear, his/her anxiety should decrease, and eventually extinguish –a process known as habituation.