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OCD vs. GAD and How to Tell the Difference

OCD vs. GAD
OCD and GAD both thrive on our
over-attention to unwanted thoughts.

People struggling with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) are often misdiagnosed as having other psychological conditions. One of the most common misdiagnoses for this population is Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). This diagnostic problem arises for two reasons. First, the distinction between OCD and GAD is somewhat vague. And second, many treatment providers have only a limited understanding of the varying ways in which OCD can manifest. While this issue may seem like an esoteric concern to some, making a proper diagnosis is important for those struggling with either condition, as the primary treatment for OCD is different than the treatment for GAD.

The Difference Between OCD Thoughts and GAD Thoughts

There are two essential differences between GAD and OCD. First is the nature of the thoughts involved. While unwanted thoughts are central to the diagnosis of both GAD and OCD, the unwanted thoughts experienced by those with GAD tend to focus on common, real-life concerns such as work, school, family, relationships, health, and financial issues. These are issues that most people worry about to some degree, but people with GAD worry about to such an extent as to significantly interfere with their daily functioning.

While GAD thoughts are generally focused on reasonably plausible concerns (for example, losing money on investments, getting fired, or failing a class), people with OCD tend to obsess about less common issues that are often quite unrealistic. People in the OCD community have over the years developed a colloquial shorthand to describe some of the more common flavors of OCD:

  • Contamination OCD Obsessions about dirt and germs, and their impact on the sufferer or others (i.e., getting a disease from incidental contact with a suspected contaminant, etc.). When most people think of OCD, this is what they think of.
  • Homosexual OCD (HOCD) – Also known as Sexual Orientation OCD, or SO-OCD. Obsessions in HOCD focus on the fear that your sexual orientation is not what you think it should be. For straight people, HOCD obsessions focus on the fear that they are secretly gay or bi. For gay people, SO-OCD obsessions focus on the possibility that they are secretly straight or bi.

Note that this is not an exhaustive list of the many variations of OCD, and is meant only to demonstrate some of the more prevalent variants of the condition. People with OCD can (and do) obsess about just about anything. That said, OCD obsessions are often about things that are highly improbable, and are frequently founded on the flimsiest of evidence. For example, a person with Harm OCD may think, “I enjoyed that horror film about a serial killer, so I must secretly be a serial killer myself, while someone with POCD may think “I thought that child was cute – so I must be a pedophile!

The line between OCD and GAD may at times be somewhat grey, and is to a certain extent arbitrary. The simplest way of conceptualizing the difference is to think of it as being a matter of both content and degree. GAD obsessions are generally focused on common, everyday concerns, while OCD obsessions tend to be significantly more unrealistic. Also, while someone with GAD (or anyone for that matter) may experience unwanted thoughts similar to those experienced by people with OCD, they are generally able to quickly write those thoughts off as being unrealistic. They are unlikely to become consumed by these thoughts, and will usually revert back to obsessing about more mundane concerns.

On the other hand, for people struggling with OCD, these atypical thoughts are not fleeting or incidental – they occur with great frequency, and are experienced as deeply intrusive and unwanted. Furthermore, these types of obsessions cause incredible amounts of distress in the sufferer, often because the thoughts directly conflict with how the individual sees him/her self. Someone with OCD may spend hours, or weeks, or even years tortured by the idea that these profoundly distressing thoughts may be a legitimate indicator of who they are as a person. For example, people with Religious Scrupulosity are often devoutly religious, and are devastated by the thought of acting or thinking in a manner that is contrary to their faith. Likewise, those struggling with POCD are universally horrified by the idea of sexually molesting a child.

Behavioral Differences Between OCD and GAD

The second primary difference between GAD and OCD is the sufferer’s behavioral response to their obsessional thoughts. In GAD, the primary (but not the only) behavioral response is to excessively worry about the issues that are causing them to feel anxious (more on this later). While people with GAD often spend great amounts of time ruminating about issues that concern them, they do not generally exhibit the classic compulsive symptoms seen in OCD, such as hand washing and door checking. Instead, in GAD, worrying is often both the obsession and the primary compulsion.

For example, someone with GAD may repeatedly have the thought “What if I don’t get that job and I end up going broke”. The initial appearance of this thought could be conceptualized as an obsession. Someone with GAD might then respond to this obsession by compulsively ruminating about the possibility of not getting the job they want, and then going broke, all in an attempt to resolve the anxiety that arose in response to the initial obsessive thought.

Conversely, those with OCD exhibit numerous compulsive behavioral responses to their unwanted thoughts. Some of these responses are fairly obvious and overt, such as repeated hand washing or lock checking. These behaviors are done in an attempt to reduce or eliminate anxiety related to their unwanted obsessions. Additionally, many people with OCD, especially those with variants of OCD that are frequently (and misleadingly) called “Pure O”, also exhibit numerous compulsive behaviors that are far less obvious to those unfamiliar with the subtleties of OCD. These more covert compulsions may include the following:

  • Avoidant Compulsions – People with OCD often avoid doing mundane tasks that others do without hesitation, such as driving or shopping, or even touching certain items such as doorknobs or telephones. This avoidance behavior is done in an effort to prevent the onset of intrusive thoughts, and the unwanted feelings and sensations that come with them.
  • Reassurance Seeking Compulsions – Many OCD sufferers compulsively seek reassurance that they have not said or done anything that they fear would confirm the legitimacy of their unwanted thoughts. Compulsive reassurance seeking is frequently done by repeatedly asking others questions related to one’s obsessional thoughts, and may also include compulsive internet searching about their intrusive thoughts.
  • Mental Compulsions Individuals struggling with OCD often have elaborate mental rituals that nobody can see, as they are occurring solely in the mind of the sufferer. These can include such things as compulsively praying or counting, or compulsively reviewing and countering their unwanted thoughts, all in an attempt to reduce the anxiety caused by their obsessions.

Unfortunately, most people don’t realize that these behaviors are compulsions, and that all compulsions actually make obsessions worse in the long run. For many people struggling with OCD, these types of less obvious behavioral compulsions are repeated over and over again, and are the most time-consuming feature of their struggle. Their OCD is essentially a nonstop battle that is hidden in plain sight. Even those closest to them often have no idea just how much of their life is consumed by these covert, never-ending compulsions.

While those with GAD do not generally exhibit the more obvious compulsive behaviors such as hand washing and door checking, it is not unusual for them to perform some covert compulsions. For example, someone with GAD may avoid certain situations, or seek reassurance in an effort to tame their anxiety about a particular real-life concern. Likewise, an individual struggling with GAD may do mental compulsions in order to cope with unwanted anxiety-provoking thoughts. For example, they might compulsively conduct contingency planning in their mind in order to feel less anxious about a feared potential health crisis or job loss. But while people with GAD may display some of these sorts of behaviors, the impact on their daily functioning is generally not as pronounced as it is for those with OCD.

Can you have both OCD and GAD?

While most people with GAD do not have OCD, it is fairly common for people with OCD to also have GAD. The simplest way to conceptualize this is that some people with OCD tend to over-think “real-life” issues just as they overthink the mostly implausible obsessions that cause them so much distress.

It is also worth noting that the symptoms of both OCD and GAD tend to spike during times of stress. It is not uncommon for people with OCD and/or GAD to experience a significant increase in their obsessionality when faced with normal life stressors such as taking tests, graduating from college, dealing with coworker conflicts, managing relationship issues, getting married, having children, etc.

Misdiagnosing OCD as GAD, and Vice-Versa

GAD is occasionally misdiagnosed as OCD, but OCD is frequently misdiagnosed as GAD, and one reason for this is fairly simple – most psychotherapists do not even remotely understand the various ways in which OCD is expressed in those suffering with the condition. Unfortunately, many mental health treatment providers conceptualize OCD as being solely about the more obvious outward manifestations of the disorder such as hand washing or door checking. But many people with OCD, especially those with the more obsessional “Pure O” variants, exhibit no externally observable compulsions whatsoever. When faced with a client reporting anxiety symptoms that they don’t understand, many psychotherapists simply use GAD as a sort of fallback diagnosis.

The real culprit here is that many graduate schools do a miserable job of teaching prospective psychotherapists about the complexities of OCD. Most graduate school psychotherapy programs provide nothing more than a cursory, extremely limited overview of the various psychological disorders, without providing an in-depth understanding of any specific condition, including OCD.

The only way that most psychotherapists can develop a more comprehensive understanding of OCD and its treatment is to consciously seek out specialized training beyond what they learn in graduate school. This can be done by taking post-graduate continuing education courses that are required to maintain one’s license. There are also advocacy organizations such as the International OCD Foundation that provide highly specialized training.

Unfortunately, most treatment providers never seek out this extra training because they don’t realize just how little they know about OCD – they don’t know what they don’t know. In lieu of having gained this sort of specialized training, the best thing that most therapists can do to ensure that their clients with unwanted thoughts are properly diagnosed is to refer them to a therapist who specializes in OCD. The bottom line is that an OCD specialist will be able to more accurately distinguish between GAD and OCD, while a more general therapist is unlikely to fully understand and identify certain OCD symptoms.

Treatment of OCD vs. Treatment of GAD

The most effective treatment for both OCD and GAD is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). However, it is important to note here that CBT is not a singular technique, but rather a broad range of interventions. The specific CBT intervention that is usually best for GAD is substantively different than the CBT technique that is most effective for the treatment of OCD.

Because those with GAD generally do not have as significant of a behavioral reaction to their anxiety-producing thoughts, the primary treatment for GAD is usually a specific CBT technique called Cognitive Restructuring. Using this technique, the individual with GAD learns to more effectively identify their anxiety-producing thoughts, and to challenge their accuracy and importance. With Cognitive Restructuring, the individual develops their ability to not immediately buy into their irrational thinking, and to instead consider other more realistic possibilities.

While Cognitive Restructuring can also be helpful for some with OCD, it is crucial to realize that this technique has the potential to be problematic for this population. It is not unusual for those with OCD to use Cognitive Restructuring compulsively in an effort to reduce the anxiety they are experiencing in response to their obsessive thoughts. While this is both predictable and understandable, it is also entirely counterproductive. A compulsion is still a compulsion, even when done in the guise of treatment.

The most effective, evidence-based treatment for OCD is a specific form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy called Exposure and Response Prevention, or ERP. This treatment focuses on gradually and repeatedly exposing OCD sufferers to the very thoughts and situations that they fear. This might include something as simple as having the person with OCD touch doorknobs over and over again without washing afterwards, or something more complex such as repeatedly driving on busy streets despite their fear that they will run someone over, or changing their child’s diapers on a regular basis, despite the fear that they are secretly a pedophile.

The reasoning behind ERP is that repeated exposure to uncomfortable thoughts and situations leads to habituation, and to learning a new ways to respond to your unwanted thoughts. Simply put, this just means that the more you face your fears, the less scary they become. If you struggle with OCD, Exposure and Response Prevention will assist you in learning four valuable lessons that help you better manage your obsessional anxiety:

1) If you face your anxiety instead of running from it, you discover that the feared outcome almost never occurs.

2) Even if the feared outcome does actually occur, it is unlikely to be anywhere close to catastrophic. Less than ideal perhaps, but not the end of the world.

3) If you don’t respond to anxiety by doing compulsions, your anxiety will usually decrease (or even disappear) anyway, just by virtue of letting yourself get used to its presence in your mind. In other words, you will learn that you don’t really need the compulsions.

4) Most importantly, you’ll learn that you are far more capable of tolerating your anxiety than you previously realized.

As noted earlier, the line between OCD and GAD may at times appear fuzzy or arbitrary. Some would even argue that GAD is essentially a variant of OCD in which the obsessions are simply more focused on “real life” concerns, or that GAD is “OCD Lite”. Further muddying the distinction between these two conditions is the fact that, while ERP is the treatment of choice for OCD, it sometimes has a place in the treatment of GAD as well.

Specifically, the more compulsive an individual’s GAD gets, the more it should be treated like OCD. If an individual with GAD exhibits any of the classic compulsive symptoms that are often seen in OCD (i.e., repetitive hand washing, door checking, etc.), it would be wise to treat those specific behaviors with the same ERP approach used for the treatment of OCD.

Likewise, if someone with GAD displays covert behavioral compulsions that are tangible, such as avoidance behaviors, reassurance seeking, and certain mental compulsions such as repetitive praying or counting, then ERP is appropriate. However, some mental compulsions may be extremely difficult to target with ERP. All of which brings us back to the lack of a perfect distinction between these two conditions, and between their respective treatments.

Finally, it is also worth noting that some more recently developed CBT techniques can be applied with equal value to both OCD and GAD. These newer techniques, such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), are often described as Mindfulness Based CBT, or “third wave” CBT. These approaches are grounded on the premise that unpleasant thoughts and feelings are a normal part of the human experience, and that trying to control them actually makes them worse. This “third wave” approach focuses instead on accepting the presence of unwanted thoughts and feelings, without making an effort to reduce or eliminate them.

While we humans cannot control the thoughts that pop into our heads, the good news is that we don’t have to. Whether you struggle with OCD, GAD, or both, the various CBT techniques described above can provide you with a fuller, more realistic perspective towards any intrusive, distressing thoughts that you experience, while giving you the tools you need to more effectively respond to them.

•Tom Corboy, MFT, Lauren McMeikan, MFT, and Crystal Quater, MFT, are psychotherapists at the OCD Center of Los Angeles, a private, outpatient clinic specializing in Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for the treatment of OCD and related anxiety-based conditions. In addition to individual therapy, the center offers five weekly therapy groups, as well as online therapy, telephone therapy, home visits, and intensive outpatient treatment. To contact the OCD Center of Los Angeles, click here.

28 Comments

  • This is a great article for those of us who seem to have both, or are somewhere in between OCD and GAD. Thanks.

    Reply
    • Thank you Julius. Glad you found the article meaningful.

      Reply
    • Thanks Kerry. It’s gratifying to know you found the article helpful.

      Reply
  • Hi, just wondering if comparing which is worse – ocd or gad, is helpful. I have ocd and somehow picturing ocd in a less severe light than gad somehow makes me feel better. Is that a kind of relief-seeking compulsion? Tks:)

    Reply
    • Shawn,

      I see absolutely no value whatsoever in comparing and analyzing whether OCD or GAD is worse. This comparison sounds exactly as you describe it – “a relief-seeking compulsion” that, like all compulsions, provides only short-term relief. I encourage you to instead accept that you have OCD, while making no effort to figure out if OCD is “better” or “worse” than GAD.

      Reply
  • I have both OCD and GAD. The intrusive thoughts with ocd are unusual and sort of ‘out of context’ eg am i a criminal?’am i a murderer ?.The ruminations with ocd are much worse in severity and pain than GAD. There can be very painful covert compulsions re real event that occured decades ago, yet still cause torture now. Intrusive thoughta and ruminations for GAD are about normal everyday worries eg financial, relationship. work stress etc.
    I have found new wave ‘metacognitive therapy’ useful for ocd/gad as well as mindfulness.

    Reply
    • Jonathan,

      A few thoughts…

      1) The specific thoughts you mention (“Am I a criminal?” and “Am I a murderer”) are quite common in a variant of OCD that is commonly called “Harm OCD. I encourage you to read our four articles about Harm OCD, starting at https://ocdla.com/harm-ocd-1-1982/.

      2) Yes, the “normal everyday worries” that you mention would generally be seen as symptoms of GAD.

      3) As noted in the article, “CBT is not a singular technique, but rather a broad range of interventions”. Metacognitive Therapy is just a variant of CBT, and is generally considered a “third wave” CBT intervention.

      Reply
  • I suffer from intrusive thoughts and worries related to real events and mistakes from my past. Questioning, overanalyzing, rehashing, reassurance seeking are all part of it. Through treatment based CRE and medicine I have gotten to a point where while the memories and a portion of concern still exists, but it no longer disrupts my life like before. My question is whether this would fall more into GAD or OCD? Since it’s anxiety and worry based around real events. Thank you for you great article!

    Reply
    • Colton,

      Your question points to the difficulty in fully separating OCD from GAD, as the line between them is often fuzzy at best. And to make things even fuzzier, there is a subtype of OCD that is commonly called “real event OCD”. Without knowing more about the specifics of your symptoms, and the specifics of the “real event” that took place, it is not possible for me to further address your question.

      That said, I would like to suggest that you consult with a therapist who specializes in OCD for an assessment and possible treatment. Any good OCD specialist should be able to help you with your concerns, regardless of whether they are OCD or GAD.

      Reply
  • Great Article.
    I can see how the line between OCD and GAD can be blurred. I can relate my Anxiety through out life 46 years plus to OCD/ GAD. I was Diagnosed with GAD in 2005. But since finding this Site in 2017 I can relate to the to the OCD Symptoms also. Great article OCD Centre. It helps me understand better all the different layers of Anxiety Disorders.

    Reply
    • Martin,

      Thanks for your kind words. I’m glad to hear that our article has helped you to better understand your symptoms.

      Reply
  • Excellent article, really on target concerning the lack of in-depth knowledge of OCD among therapists. I live in the middle of the east coast (Virginia), and knowlegable CBT therapists are difficult to find. Is that going to change anytime soon?

    Reply
    • Steve,

      The best place to look for qualified OCD specialists near you is on the website of the International OCD Foundation at http://www.iocdf.org/. They are the largest OCD advocacy organization in the world, and they maintain a searchable database of therapists who specialize in the treatment of OCD and related anxiety conditions. If you are unable to find a local specialist, you can learn more about our intensive outpatient treatment program for OCD at https://ocdla.com/intensive-treatment-ocd-anxiety/.

      Reply
  • How would obsessions about sexuality (specifically fear that your sexuality is different than what you’ve always thought it was with no desire for a change in relationships) present differently in GAD versus OCD? Would having a sexual response to same sex pornography and having obsessions about it be seen in GAD? How would it manifest if two people one with OCD and the other with GAD both randomly decided to watch some same sex pornography and both had a genuine response yet genuinely did not want to actually date the same sex because of no real life romantic or sexual attraction.

    Reply
    • Meg,

      I do not know of any therapist who would conceptualize unwanted thoughts about sexual orientation as being indicative of GAD. These types of thoughts are quite common in OCD, and are frequently described as “HOCD”. I encourage you to read our series of five articles on HOCD, starting at https://ocdla.com/hocd-30-things-you-need-to-know-5522“.

      Reply
  • Hi, great article. I was told I have anxiety back in May 2020 but after doing a bit of self-reflection and research I think it is OCD – I have intrusive thoughts about my partner – whether I still love him, whether I find him attractive. I do a lot of mental checking and reassurance seeking behaviours to relieve the distress these thoughts cause me. I have also had the same type of cycle over the thought of having a hypothetical severe illness, and about harming a loved one. I can’t stop thinking that I’ve been misdiagnosed.

    Reply
    • Jane,

      Don’t waste your time trying to distinguish between anxiety and OCD. I have yet to meet a client with OCD who wasn’t anxious. The fact that your treatment provider didn’t recognize your relationship obsessions as OCD tells me that he/she is probably not an OCD specialist.

      Also, please note that until a few years ago, OCD was formally classified as an anxiety disorder. The bottom line is that these are just labels created by humans to describe various constellations of symptoms.

      That said, I encourage you to read our article on ROCD at https://ocdla.com/rocd-relationship-ocd-myth-of-the-one-3665/.

      Reply
  • Hi,
    I believed I had somatic OCD (salivation) but and had CBT that was not too effective.

    I wonder if it’s really gad. I also suffer from insomnia and when the insomnia is worse all my worries go to that. I have compulsions of trying to find a solution for both things, and anything really. I also have worries about work, survival, always in my back mind. How can I know for sure what I have and what’s the best treatment?
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Hi Alejandra,

      The best option for you is to seek an assessment with a therapist who specializes in treating OCD. They should be able to help you identify what is going on, and provide treatment for you if appropriate.

      Reply
  • Not convinced of a family member’s OCD diagnosis. I do medical research for a living. His anxious mind is constantly on a treadmill, unable to focus on and separate out the important things from the benign, whether he said the right thing to someone, whether he rinsed out the bucket for the lower panel when washing his car, what a stranger thought of him, would turn in late an “A” paper, choosing to rewrite it 10 time, always questioning his own behavior or responses, and always seeking my approval. Perhaps behavior which might be OCD, a perfectionist, cleaning always done in a very deliberate and focused way, but I tend to believe these acts are not so much OCD but trying to keep busy so that his tired mind can rest. Any thoughts?

    Reply
  • I always have to explain stress is normal, but I cannot stop thinking about this for the last few weeks. From the moment I awake to the moment I sleep. When I’m talking to you, when I’m cooking, when I’m showering, etc. My thoughts are like a broken record playing a shitty song, and I want to smash the record but I’m forced to listen. I also find in moments of stressful times these kind of thought patterns can be on any subject, not just the event that is stressful. My mind will just focus on SOMETHING to worry about.

    While cognitive therapy works, it would be nice to hear about medication as well. Many doctors have different treatment plans.

    Reply
    • Hi Michael,

      Yeah that can be so tortuous, especially when its regarding distressing material. Also the thoughts getting stuck on repeat and constantly changing can be exhausting. The mind likes to find things to worry about, call it an evolved protective process that’s on overdrive. I find mindfulness practice to be incredibly helpful on learning how to let that tape play, continue to live in the now, and make peace with that ongoing broken record and it’s sh—y music. And when that song causes anxiety, then exposure work can be really helpful.

      Best to you Michael and your journey forward!

      Reply
  • I finally feel I have an answer for my condition.
    Thx
    Rain

    Reply
  • Great article! Sorry for my English, it’s not my native language.
    I struggle a lot with what my diagnose is. I’m getting obsessed about it, because I fear that if get wrong treatment, my anxiety will get worse. For 21 years I have recurrent fear of anxiety. I worry only that this anxiety won’t go away and I will be stuck in it.
    I ruminate, try to figure out, try to get rid of anxiety, research internet, seek for reassurance. I asked God for help and then my anxiety changed to worry about my faith, do I understand my doctrine correctly, do I have enough faith…And now I’m ruminating about diagnose again.
    What would be best therapy for me? Can you treat GAD the same as OCD?

    Reply
  • Hi, I have a severe form of GAD. The psychological component of the disease is significantly reflected in the somatic area. I have migraines, GERD, poor sleep, tremors, etc. I have been through psychotherapy with no success. Only psychotropic drugs (anxiolytics) have a certain effect.

    The somatic manifestations mentioned above are always preceded by initiation thoughts. These thoughts accompany me all day and I try to suppress them. I do this with certain phrases that I repeat to myself during attacks. I consider these reversals to be affirmations, but I’m not sure if they are avoidant compulsions. I also have difficulty doing normal everyday tasks due to anticipatory anxiety. Can GAD also have an obsessive-compulsive component?

    Reply
  • Hello,

    I’ve been struggling with anxiety and potentially OCD around my relationship. The thought of having OCD over GAD is somewhat relieving and I’m not sure why. I’m having a hard time labeling my compulsions as I feel they vary, or if I just obsess over the thought. Do you have any suggestions in identifying them? It is incredibly hard, and physically draining to deal with. I definitely have anxiety around my anxiety.

    Reply
  • Thank you so much! I have been recently diagnosed with OCD specifically Pure O OCD after more than 20 years being mis-labelled and mis-diagnosed by a lot of therapists in the states with conditions sharing the same symptoms or have similar characteristics such as Autism, OCPD, Social Anxiety, GAD, and BPD. And at one point of time nearly diagnosed as psychosis… So tiring seeing a new therapist and explaining the same details. And some therapist with a PhD degree lack education in the area of OCD as well as customer services. Your post is so helpful and I believe will benefit many people!

    Reply

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    Imaginal exposure for the treatment of OCD and anxiety is discussed by Tom Corboy, MFT, of the OCD Center of Los Angeles. […]
    234 Comments
  • ROCD - Relationship OCDROCD: Relationship OCD and The Myth of “The One”
    ROCD (Relationship OCD) is an often misunderstood variant of OCD. From the OCD Center of Los Angeles. […]
    696 Comments
  • Moral Scrupulosity in OCDMoral Scrupulosity in OCD: Cognitive Distortions
    A review of cognitive distortions seen in Moral Scrupulosity OCD, and a discussion of how to effectively challenge them. From the OCD Center of Los Angeles. […]
    68 Comments
  • OCD in the Family
    One mom's story of her son's battle with OCD and its profound impact on their family, as told to Elizabeth Kassel, MSW, of the OCD Center of Los Angeles. […]
    5 Comments
  • Scrupulosity in OCD: Cognitive Distortions
    A discussion of cognitive distortions in the religious Scrupulosity subtype of OCD. Part two of a multi-part series. […]
    40 Comments
  • OCD and Eating Disorders
    Diagnostic similarities and differences between OCD and eating disorders are discussed by Kimberley Quinlan, MFT, Clinical Director of the OCD Center of Los Angeles. […]
    6 Comments
  • Harm OCD treatment with ERPHarm OCD Treatment With ERP
    Harm OCD treatment using Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) is discussed by Tom Corboy, MFT, Executive Director of the OCD Center of Los Angeles . […]
    186 Comments
  • My Life with OCD
    The impact of OCD and related anxiety based disorders on the family is often overlooked. In this multi-part series, we present first-hand accounts of the ongoing impact of OCD, BDD, and Bipolar Disorder on one man and his family, as told to Elizabeth Kassel, MSW, of the OCD Center of Los Angeles. […]
    18 Comments
  • Scrupulosity OCDScrupulosity: Where OCD Meets Religion, Faith, and Belief
    The Scrupulosity sub-type of OCD is discussed by Kevin Foss, MFT, of the OCD Center of Los Angeles. Part one of a four part series. […]
    222 Comments
  • Mindfulness for OCD and Anxiety
    Using mindfulness to enhance traditional CBT for OCD and anxiety is discussed by Kimberley Quinlan, MFT, Clinical Director of the OCD Center of Los Angeles. […]
    21 Comments
  • Hoarding, Cluttering, and Compulsive Shopping: My Childhood Story
    One woman's story of her life as the child of multiple generations of hoarders. […]
    12 Comments
  • Thought Action FusionOCD and Thought-Action Fusion
    Thought-Action Fusion is a frequent problem for those with OCD. This issue is discussed by Laura Yocum, MFT, of the OCD Center of Los Angeles. […]
    27 Comments
  • OCD, Anxiety, and Resistance
    Resistance and acceptance in OCD and related disorders is discussed by the OCD Center of Los Angeles. […]
    21 Comments
  • Harm OCD Treatment: Cognitive Restructuring
    Harm OCD is often misunderstood, but it can be effectively treated using an integrated treatment plan that includes Cognitive Restructuring. Part three of our ongoing series that explores "Harm OCD" and its treatment . […]
    102 Comments
  • OCD & Anxiety: Five Common Roadblocks to Treatment
    Learn the five common mistakes that interfere with successful treatment of OCD and anxiety. By Kimberley Quinlan, MFT, Clinical Director of the OCD Center of Los Angeles. […]
    26 Comments
  • Harm OCD Treatment: Mindfulness Based CBT
    Harm OCD is an often misunderstood condition that can be effectively treated using Mindfulness integrated with CBT. Part two of a multi-part series from the OCD Center of Los Angeles. […]
    100 Comments
  • Skin Picking Disorder / Dermatillomania TreatmentDermatillomania / Skin Picking Disorder Treatment
    Treatment of Dermatillomania (Skin Picking Disorder) with CBT. Part two of a series from the OCD Center of Los Angeles. […]
    164 Comments
  • Harm OCD: Symptoms and Treatment
    This is the first installment in a series of articles in which The OCD Center of Los Angeles demystifies both the symptoms and the treatment of Harm OCD. […]
    461 Comments
  • Orthorexia: Where Eating Disorders Meet OCD – Part 2
    Kimberley Quinlan, MFT, of the OCD Center of Los Angeles discusses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Mindfulness for the treatment of Orthorexia. Part two of a two-part series. […]
    18 Comments
  • Casey Anthony, Reasonable Doubt, and OCD
    Harm OCD and 'reasonable doubt' are discussed in relation to the Casey Anthony murder trial. From the OCD Center of Los Angeles.unbearable. […]
    10 Comments
  • ABCs of DermatillomaniaThe ABC’s of Dermatillomania / Skin Picking Disorder
    Symptoms and treatment of Skin Picking Disorder, also known as Dermatillomania. From The OCD Center of Los Angeles. […]
    208 Comments
  • HOCD / Gay OCD: Challenges to Treatment
    Common challenges seen in the treatment of HOCD / Gay OCD are discussed by the OCD Center of Los Angeles. Part four of a four-part series. […]
    441 Comments
  • Orthorexia: Where Eating Disorders Meet OCD
    Orthorexia is an eating disorder in which people obsess about eating only "pure" and "healthy" foods. By Kimberley Quinlan, MFT, of the OCD Center of Los Angeles. […]
    12 Comments
  • Thought Suppression and OCD
    Thought suppression is a common feature of OCD, especially for those with Pure Obsessional OCD (sometimes called "Pure O"). […]
    23 Comments
  • HOCD / Gay OCD: Common Subtypes
    Common subtypes of HOCD / Gay OCD are discussed. Part three of a four part series. From the OCD Center of Los Angeles. […]
    413 Comments
  • Social Anxiety / Social Phobia: Alone With Witnesses – Part 2
    Treatment of Social Anxiety is discussed, along with its relationship with other OC spectrum disorders. From the OCD Center of Los Angeles. […]
    10 Comments
  • Social Anxiety / Social Phobia: Alone With Witnesses – Part 1
    Many people mistakenly think of Social Anxiety as nothing more than shyness. In this two-part series, the OCD Center of Los Angeles discusses Social Anxiety and its treatment with CBT. […]
    9 Comments
  • Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) Research – Year in Review
    Tom Corboy, MFT, of the OCD Center of Los Angeles reviews research studies published in 2010 related to Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD). […]
    4 Comments
  • Binge Eating Disorder / Compulsive Overeating and Its Treatment
    Binge Eating Disorder, also known as ‘”compulsive overeating”, can perhaps best be described as a condition in which one periodically consumes extremely large amounts of food. Kimberley Quinlan, MFT, Clinical Director of the OCD Center of Los Angeles, discusses Binge Eating Disorder and its treatment with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). […]
    7 Comments
  • Gay OCD / HOCD Treatment
    Treatment of Gay OCD / HOCD / Sexual Orientation OCD using CBT and Mindfulness is discussed by the OCD Center of Los Angeles. […]
    196 Comments
  • Gay OCD / HOCD / Sexual Orientation OCD
    Symptoms & treatment of Gay OCD, also known as HOCD, or Sexual Orientation OCD. From The OCD Center of Los Angeles. […]
    752 Comments
  • Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) and Teens
    Increasing numbers of teens are having elective cosmetic surgeries to address body image issues, without fully considering the physical and psychological risks involved. […]
    No Comments
  • Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) and Body Image in the News
    A discussion of BDD and recent news reports about the condition. From the OCD Center of Los Angeles. Serving clients in California and internationally. […]
    1 Comment
  • Treatment of OCD and OC Spectrum Disorders in Children
    The OCD Center of Los Angeles discusses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for the treatment of OCD and anxiety in children and adolescents. […]
    No Comments
  • Trichotillomania, Skin Picking Disorder, and the Resistor’s High
    The OCD Center of Los Angeles discusses treatment of Trichotillomania (Hair Pulling Disorder) and Dermatillomania (Skin Picking Disorder). […]
    8 Comments
  • Memory Hoarding in Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
    Many people with OCD engage in 'memory hoarding', a mental compulsion to over-attend to the details of an event, person, or object. Memory hoarding is done with the belief that the event, person, or object carries a special significance, and may be important to recall exactly as-is at a later date. […]
    266 Comments
  • OCD and the Law – Part 3
    An Australian pro boxer assaults a 70-year old man on a ferry boat and claims his OCD made him do it. Last of a three part series on OCD and the law. […]
    No Comments
  • OCD and the Law – Part 2
    A Kentucky man murdered his wife and then tried to claim that his OCD led him to kill her. Part 2 of a 3 part series. From the OCD Center of Los Angeles. […]
    4 Comments
  • OCD and the Law – Part 1
    A Scottish man claims his massive child pornography collection is due to OCD. Part 1 of a 3 part series from the OCD Center of Los Angeles. […]
    1 Comment
  • OCD Stockholm Syndrome
    Something akin to the Stockholm Syndrome occurs in some people who struggle with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder ( OCD ). […]
    2 Comments
  • Athletes With Anxiety
    Mental health has long been shrouded in secrecy and shame. So when public figures like professional athletes actively seek help for anxiety, it is a sign of cultural progress. Here are some who have gone public with their struggles. […]
    1 Comment
  • Social Anxiety in Baseball Revisted
    This past week marked the arrival of the 2010 Major League baseball season. And as with last year, this season already has three developing stories of athletes dealing with Social Anxiety. […]
    No Comments
  • Treatment of OCD and Anxiety: A Brief History
    A look at how the treatment of OCD and related anxiety disorders has changed over time, especially the development of CBT and mindfulness for OCD. […]
    3 Comments
  • Tiger Woods, Sex Addiction, and OCD – Part 2
    Sex addiction is misconstrued by many to be a type of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). This article reviews various factors relevant to determining what diagnosis might be more appropriate. Second of a two part series. […]
    4 Comments
  • Tiger Woods, Sex Addiction, and OCD
    Many people, including professional psychotherapists, incorrectly think of sex addiction as a type of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). This article reviews the essential differences between these two conditions and, how therapeutic strategies used for the treatment of OCD are unlikely to be successful when treating sex addiction. First of a two part series. […]
    18 Comments
  • Latisse and Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)
    The drug Latisse is prescribed to lengthen eyelashes, but it has significant, under-reported side effects. This raises two questions - is Latisse safe, and does its marketing exploit women's body image concerns? […]
    2 Comments
  • Proposed DSM-5 Changes for OCD and Anxiety Disorders
    The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has proposed significant revisions to its "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fourth Edition" (DSM-IV). Tom Corboy of the OCD Center of Los Angeles discusses changes planned for the new DSM-5, specifically those relevant to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and related anxiety-based conditions. […]
    7 Comments
  • Reassurance Seeking in OCD and Anxiety
    Those with OCD and other anxiety based conditions often seek reassurance that their unwanted thoughts and feelings are not a threat. The OCD Center of Los Angeles discusses the problem of using reassurance seeking as an anxiety management strategy. […]
    92 Comments
  • Phobia Treatment in Unconventional Settings
    Traditionally, phobias have been treated in a therapist's office. But effective help for phobias can now be found in some very unexpected places. […]
    No Comments
  • Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) and Cosmetic Surgery
    Many with Body Dysmorphic Disorder turn to cosmetic surgery in an attempt to alleviate their insecurities. Unfortunately, there are plenty of cosmetic surgeons who are more than willing to cash in on those with this serious psychiatric condition. […]
    No Comments
  • OCD & Anxiety: The Year 2009 in Review
    OCD and anxiety were in the news throughout 2009. Here are our votes for the top stories of the year about OCD and related anxiety based conditions. […]
    2 Comments
  • Bizarre, Disturbing, Weird, and Unwanted Thoughts in OCD
    Everybody has bizarre thoughts. But people with OCD respond differently to these thoughts. From the OCD Center of Los Angeles. […]
    26 Comments
  • Emetophobia treatment at the OCD Center of Los Angeles with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)Emetophobia and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
    Emetophobia is the fear of vomit and/or vomiting. Tom Corboy, MFT, Executive Director of the OCD Center of Los Angeles, discusses Emetophobia and its treatment. […]
    85 Comments
  • OCD and Mental Checking
    People with OCD often struggle with 'mental compulsions'. The OCD Center of Los Angeles explores how to manage this sometimes baffling problem. […]
    186 Comments
  • Cyberchondria: Health Anxiety in the 21st Century
    The twin explosions of television and the internet have spawned a sharp increase in Hypochondria, and spawned a new mental health issue - 'Cyberchondria'. […]
    8 Comments
  • Is Compulsive Overeating OCD?
    A discussion of compulsive overeating (aka binge eating) and how it differs from OCD. From the OCD Center of Los Angeles. Serving clients internationally. […]
    No Comments
  • Cy Young, Zack Greinke, and Social Anxiety
    Zack Greinke has overcome his Social Anxiety to become a superstar in major league baseball. […]
    No Comments
  • Exposure Therapy for OCD and AnxietyExposure Therapy for OCD and Anxiety
    Exposure therapy for OCD and other anxiety conditions is discussed by Tom Corboy, MFT, of the OCD Center of Los Angeles. […]
    46 Comments
  • Social Anxiety Research
    Recent Social Anxiety research is discussed by Tom Corboy, MFT, executive director of the CD Center of Los Angeles. […]
    No Comments
  • OCD Awareness Week
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    No Comments
  • CBT and Evidence Based Psychotherapy
    Unfortunately, many psychotherapists dismiss evidence-based treatments such as CBT, instead choosing to do what feels comfortable for them. […]
    No Comments
  • OCD, Mental Health, and the National Health Care Debate
    A look at the national health care debate, especially as it pertains to OCD and related anxiety based conditions. […]
    No Comments
  • Childhood OCD, Strep Infections, and PANDAS
    There is a growing body of research that indicates strep infections are related to rapid-onset OCD in children. […]
    No Comments
  • OCD and the Swine Flu – Part 2
    Panic about the Swine Flu continues, despite facts that suggest there is no cause for increased concern. […]
    No Comments
  • 2009 Obsessive-Compulsive Foundation Conference
    A review of the 2009 Obsessive Compulsive Foundation conference. […]
    No Comments
  • New Trichotillomania Research
    A look at recent research related to Trichotillomania. From the OCD Center of Los Angeles. […]
    No Comments
  • Parenting a Child With OCD
    Parenting any child is a full-time job. But parenting a child with OCD can be particularly challenging. From the OCD Center of Los Angeles. […]
    No Comments
  • Social Anxiety in Baseball
    A look at the recent rash of pro baseball players struggling with Social Anxiety Disorder. […]
    No Comments
  • Michael Jackson and Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)
    A look at the sad tale of Michael Jackson and his mental health issues. […]
    No Comments
  • OCD and the Swine Flu
    The past few months have seen an avalanche of news stories on the Swine Flu, despite its relatively low impact in the US. […]
    No Comments
  • Meet the OCD Center of Los Angeles Staff
    Meet the OCD Center of Los Angeles Staff […]
    No Comments
  • Welcome to the OCD Center of Los Angeles Blog
    Welcome to the OCD Center of Los Angeles Blog […]
    No Comments

    
OCD Center of Los Angeles