When seeking OCD treatment, many become obsessive in reseaching the topic. Those armed with knowledge usually have the upper hand, yet excessive reseach stops people from taking action. Reading the same material over and over again becomes a safety net. When the obsessions become too intense, the mind looks for the simpliest answer it can find, typically what’s been advertised the most. So it’s not surprising medication has become the first form of intervention.
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 is needed for any 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. 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.
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 stress must be minumized, yet minimizing stress is a life style, not just implementing simple 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 stepping into the unknown.
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 intensity of facing their fears head on is too overwhelming for those who already feel like they are at their 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 o decieve the therapist, it is just an unconscious mechanism of resisting change, one many therapist recognize. (1) Clients finish their treatment and still have the obsessions. Theyend up feeling like failures, believing nothing will help them change
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. Those with OCD do not trust themselves, they have be 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 anything will work.
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, when it is actually emotionally driven. If the emotional aspects are overlooked and the treatment becomes of exercise of mental processes trying to control emotional reactions. The person will still be battling themselves
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. Ineffective therapist tell their clients to think about something different, to control their thoughts, just to try harder. That is not how someone will stop OCD.
There will always be those for whom economic considerations will hinder recovery. Treatments must be affordable. For those who are anxious or depressed, the additional stress of spending money they don’t have can be counterproductive. 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. Sure it can seem scary and to make improvements in oneself isn’t always easy. While change means stepping into the unknown and it can feel risky, staying in stuck patterns that are only getting worse, will be down right debilitating
For over a dozen years Designed Thinking has helped clients make changes in anxious and disruptive thought patterns. 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-