A key characteristic that OCD, certain OC Spectrum Disorders, and related anxiety disorders have in common is the cyclical process by which the symptoms intensify. Initially, individuals with these conditions perform compulsive or avoidant behaviors in an effort to reduce their anxiety. Unfortunately, while performing these behaviors may at first diminish the anxiety, it actually reinforces and worsens it in the long-term. This in turn leads to an increase in compulsive or avoidant behaviors, which leads to even more anxiety. While the specific thoughts and behaviors may vary with each of these disorders, this cyclical process is identical.
The following are some examples of behaviors aimed at reducing anxiety that instead serve to increase it, creating the Obsessive-Compulsive Cycle:
- Individuals with OCD may repeatedly wash their hands or check door locks in an attempt to reduce their obsessional anxiety. To learn more about OCD and its treatment, click here.
- Individuals with Pure Obsessional OCD may excessively worry about such things as causing harm or acting sexully inappropriate. To learn more about Obsessional OCD and its treatment, click here.
- Women with Postpartum OCD may repeatedly worry that they will hurt their children, either by accident or on purpose. To learn more about Postpartum OCD and its treatment, click here.
- Individuals with Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) may compulsively check themselves in mirrors to diminish their anxiety about their appearance. To learn more about Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) and its treatment, click here.
- Individuals with Hypochondria / Health Anxiety may repeatedly visit medical doctors in an attempt to reduce their anxiety about having an illness or disease. To learn more about Hypochondria / Health Anxiety and its treatment, click here.
- Individuals with Trichotillomania may compulsively pull their scalp or body hair in response to either stress or boredom. To learn more about Trichotillomania and its treatment, click here.
- Individuals with Compulsive Skin Picking (CSP) may repeatedly pick at the skin on their face or other body parts in response to either stress or boredom. To learn more about Compulsive Skin Picking and its treatment, click here.
- Individuals with Panic Disorder regularly avoid situations in which they fear experiencing a panic attack. To learn more about Panic Disorder and its treatment, click here.
- Individuals with Phobias habitually avoid exposure to specific objects or situations that they fear may cause anxiety. To learn more about Phobias and their treatment, click here.
- Individuals with Social Anxiety (Social Phobia) regularly avoid certain social situations in an effort to prevent the anxiety they experience in those situations. To learn more about Social Anxiety (Social Phobia) and its treatment, click here.
- Individuals with Olfactory Reference Syndrome may regularly wear excessive amounts of perfume in an effort to diminish the anxiety they experience regarding their odor. To learn more about Olfactory Reference Syndrome and its treatment, click here.
In the course of going through this cyclical process, individuals become emotionally "sensitized" to specific thoughts, objects, or situations. In other words, they develop a "learned response" in which they automatically become anxious in reaction to these thoughts, objects or situations. For individuals with these conditions, this can become an escalating cycle of anxiety and compulsive or avoidant behaviors.
Research has found that the most effective treatments for OCD and these related conditions are specific types of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT). The primary CBT techniques used in treating these disorders are Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), Imaginal Exposure, Interoceptive Exposure, Cognitive Restructuring, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, and Habit Reversal Training (HRT). For more information on Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for the treatment of OCD and these related conditions, click here.
In addition to individual therapy, the OCD Center of Los Angeles also offers seven low-fee, therapy/support groups for adults with OCD and these related conditions. All of our weekly therapy / support groups are led by our professional staff therapists, and use the same treatment protocol as our individual Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy program. For more information on these groups, click here.
We also offer webcam based online therapy and telephone therapy to clients throughout California, as well as residents of most other countries. Telephone and online therapy are cost-effective options for clients who have physical and/or psychological limitations that restrict their ability to come to our office, and for those in remote areas who cannot find specialized OCD and anxiety treatment close to their home. If you would like to learn more about our telephone and online therapy program for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and related anxiety-based conditions, please click here.
The OCD Center also offers intensive treatment for adults, adolescents, and children with OCD and related anxiety based conditions. This program is designed to meet the needs of those for whom standard outpatient treatment is either unavailable or insufficient. Our intensive outpatient program is ideal for clients from other states or countries who cannot find effective treatment near to their homes, and for those whose symptoms require a more rigorous treatment protocol. To learn more about intensive outpatient treatment for OCD and related anxiety based conditions, click here.
If you would like to discuss therapy options for the treatment of OCD or a related anxiety based condition at the OCD Center of Los Angeles, you can call us at (310) 824-5200, or click here to email us.