Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

OCD is a mental disorder that includes obsessions and/or compulsions. Most people experience both obsessions and compulsions. These obsessions and compulsions are very upsetting, and cause great distress and impairment.

How Common is OCD?

If you suffer from OCD symptoms, you are not alone. About 1.2% of people in the United States are diagnosed with OCD each year. There are an estimated 112 million suffering from OCD in the world, and it is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide.

The average age that OCD becomes clinically significant is around 19 and a half years old. That being said, it can start in early childhood, with males often getting the disorder earlier. Additionally, most people have some symptoms before the disorder reaches a clinically significant threshold.

What Causes OCD?

There are several factors that work together to cause OCD: genetics, life events, personality, and the environment. Individuals with parents who have been diagnosed with OCD are also at a higher risk of developing OCD. There is no known single cause, but there are many predispositions. OCD can also be caused in young children by an infection known as Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated (PANDAS). This causes OCD in some young children as a result of Streptococcal Infections (such as strep throat).

Do I Have OCD?

If you experience obsessions and/or compulsions, you should talk to a licensed mental health professional, like a counselor, therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist. You should seek help if the obsessions or compulsions cause you great distress and take up a great deal of your time. Additionally, it often affects close family members almost as much as the sufferer when severe, as the obsessions and compulsions spill over into the household, and every facet of the sufferers life.

Obsessions: Recurrent and persistent thoughts, feelings, images, or urges that are unwanted and cause a great deal of anxiety or distress.

Compulsions: Repetitive behaviors (hand-washing, ordering, checking) or mental acts (counting, repeating words silently) that the person feels driven to perform in response to an obsession or rigid rules. These behaviors or mental acts are aimed at preventing or reducing anxiety or distress or preventing some dreaded situation; however, these behaviors/mental acts are not realistically connected to what they are trying to prevent, or are clearly excessive.

Is there a cure for OCD? What are the treatment options?


No complete or permanent cure for OCD exists; however, with proper treatment the symptoms can be made much more manageable, or kept completely under control. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a common technique used for people struggling with OCD. This method teaches people with OCD how to confront their fears and reduce anxiety without acting out on compulsions. The most effective type of CBT for OCD is called Exposure and Response/Ritual Prevention (abbreviated as either ERP or EX/RP).

A doctor may also prescribe antidepressant medications as these can reduce obsessions, but for best results medication should be used in combination with ERP therapy. ERP is the best and most durable solution for OCD. If someone is properly treated with ERP, the OCD can be very well controlled if not almost eliminated. However, even if the OCD is mostly gone, the sufferer will need to be on guard to prevent it from returning. So, relapse prevention is an important part of treatment as well.

Each time a person with OCD gives into an obsession by performing a compulsion, it strengthens the OCD. The opposite also holds true that each time one does not give into the obsessions, the fear weakens. So, with ERP one is in effect strengthening the brain. This is more than just willpower though. Most OCD sifferers have tried to resist the obsessions, but it must be done properly to work, and so willpower alone is not enough. ERP takes a graduate approach, and this has been scientifically developed and proven, to give people the tools to control their OCD.

Help from Family and Friends

It is important to realize that the behaviors performed by someone suffering from OCD are caused by the illness and are not intentional.

The symptoms of OCD may lead to social withdrawal, depression, and even suicidal thoughts. It is important for close family members and friends to be there for an individual suffering from OCD, and let them to know that they can get help. A therapist can help loved ones know how to best respond to the suffer’s distress.

It is also important to recognize the warning signs of suicidal thoughts, as suicidal thoughts occur in up to as many as half of those suffering with OCD

WANT TO RESOLVE SYMPTOMS FAST?

Our Intensive Treatment Program for OCD can help!

Please read this carefully to better understand our Intensive Treatment Program for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). If you have additional questions you would like addressed, please contact us using our Contact form or call us at (502) 908-9410

What is an Intensive Treatment Program?

Our Intensive Treatment Program is recommended in certain circumstances by clinical and medical necessity. This program may be recommended for those who are not responding to weekly traditional outpatient therapy but who do not want to engage in a residential program. It is also a good option for people who have severe symptoms, but can be an option for anyone who wants to get better as soon as possible. This program can enable patients to recover quickly, on a part-time yet intensive schedule, designed to accommodate family life and other outside activities.

Program Structure and Format

The intensive outpatient portion of treatment is typically a 2-week program. Before the program starts, the patient will participate in a 3-hour comprehensive assessment to determine the scope and severity of symptoms. The results of this assessment process will be reviewed by the clinical director and treatment team to formulate a treatment plan.

Once the program begins, the patient will meet with a therapist six days per week for two 90-minute sessions. We also include 1-2 family sessions, as needed, and 1-2 group sessions. After the patient completes the initial daily portion of the program, subsequent treatment will involve 1-2 sessions per week, typically on a graduated schedule, based on the recommendations of the treatment team.

We incorporate a variety of services as part of intensive treatment, including:

  • Comprehensive psychiatric assessment
  • Intensive individual therapy
  • Exposure and ritual/response prevention
  • Group therapy
  • Family involvement
  • Patient education and awareness
  • Treatment for co-occurring conditions
  • Coordination with the patient’s regular psychiatrist, therapist, or other mental health professional

Our intensive treatment program for OCD is an ideal option for those who live 90 minutes or further away from Louisville. In such cases, after the intensive portion of the treatment is complete and the patient returns home, the patient will meet online 1-2 times per week with their therapist for a 60-minute videoconference session for approximately 5 weeks. The initial 3-hour comprehensive assessment can also be completed online.

Intensive Treatment Program versus Traditional Outpatient Options

Intensive treatment offers a higher level of professional involvement and care compared to traditional therapy-as-usual. Regrettably, many mental health programs lack professionals with the experience needed to effectively guide patients toward lasting mastery over their OCD. Traditional therapies that involve talking about the problem rarely result in correcting the problem. Patients may leave their therapist’s office feeling reassured, but this is only a temporary fix and results in no real change.

Our Program: Unique and Effective

When this treatment was designed, a 3.5 week intensive program for OCD was offered, but that program was prohibitive for most people who are unable to take 3.5 weeks off of work (or who may need to be accompanied by a family member unable to take that much time off work). The current program was designed based on new research showing that online therapy can be an effective part of the treatment process. Thus, patients need to only spend 2 weeks at the actual treatment facility and the remainder can be done from home. Research suggests that the vast majority of people with obsessive-compulsive disorder respond well to our treatment approach.

Currently, patients at most intensive/residential programs for OCD average a 60-day stay, and treatment is usually only 50% complete by the time patients are released. Patients must then finish treatment with a local clinician, who may or may not have adequate experience providing OCD treatment. Furthermore, patients at these programs may employ bachelors-level technicians (behavioral specialists), who may be working with four patients per session. We think this compromises the quality of care. Our program includes daily individual sessions with a licensed masters or doctoral-level therapist in addition to individual work with a therapist assistant (masters-level or graduate student). This degree of expertise and attention makes all the difference when it comes to complete and speedy recovery for our patients. If you are considering another program, be sure to ask how much time will be spent individually with a masters or doctoral-level professional.

Planning for Intensive Treatment for OCD

Because of the degree of individual attention provided, our intensive treatment program takes time to schedule. Contact our offices right away if you anticipate participation. A deposit is required to preserve your spot.

Louisville OCD Clinic

For more information regarding our OCD treatment options, check out our partnering clinic: Louisville OCD Clinic!

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