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Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health disorder that can significantly inhibit everyday life. Beyond its typical symptoms, it can also co-occur with other disorders or addiction and may thus require thorough OCD treatment. If you or your loved ones are suspecting such a diagnosis, you’re right to seek information.
At Archstone Behavioral Health, we offer extensive treatments for OCD. We have catered to standalone cases and co-occurrences with addiction alike, and are happy to share our insights on this disorder.
What is OCD?
Unlike more concentrated disorders, OCD comes with two distinct symptom groups. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) defines OCD as “a common, chronic, and long-lasting disorder”. A person experiencing it “has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (“obsessions”) and/or behaviors (“compulsions”) that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over”.
These two groups are distinct, as we’ll see next, and may or may not co-occur. Still, as NIMH notes, “these symptoms can interfere with all aspects of life, such as work, school, and personal relationships”.
Prevalence and onset
OCD is relatively prevalent, and has some unique characteristics worth noting. The Anxiety & Depression Association of America (ADAA) notes the following:
- OCD affects 2.5 million adults or 1.2% of the U.S. population.
- Women are 3x more likely to be affected than men.
- The average age of onset is 19, with 25% of cases occurring by age 14. One-third of affected adults first experienced symptoms in childhood.
This does not mean OCD exclusively emerges in early adulthood, as onset after age 35 can also happen. Still, it is a typical pattern to keep in mind when seeking OCD treatment.
Causes and risk factors
Unfortunately, the exact causes of OCD are still unknown. Traumatic events during childhood have only been loosely connected to onset, for instance. However, research our OCD treatment providers follow has pinpointed 3 key risk factors:
- Genetics; those who have first-degree relatives with OCD are at a higher risk for developing OCD themselves. The connection between genetics and OCD is still being studied, however.
- Brain structure; abnormalities in certain areas of the brain, particularly in the frontal cortex and subcortical structures of the brain also seem to be connected to OCD.
- Environment; research suggests childhood trauma may also be related to OCD. Notably, streptococcal infections during childhood may also be a risk factor.
As science evolves and understands OCD more deeply, OCD treatment will only follow suit to best cater to each case’s underlying causes.
As highlighted above, OCD comes with two distinct symptom groups; namely, obsessions and compulsions.
Despite the word’s everyday meaning, NIMH defines obsessions as “repeated thoughts, urges, or mental images that cause anxiety”. Symptoms of obsessions can include:
- Contamination obsessions; fear of germs or contamination
- Violent obsessions; aggressive thoughts toward others or self
- Responsibility obsessions; excessive guilt or caution
- Perfectionism obsessions; having things symmetrical or in perfect order or fear of making mistakes
- Sexual obsessions; unwanted, forbidden, or taboo thoughts involving sex
- Religious obsessions; excessive concern with religion, morality, and blasphemy
- Identity obsessions; excessive concern with one’s self-*image, identity, sexual orientation, or gender identity
In contrast, OCD Lantana FL treatment providers find compulsions to include:
- Washing and cleaning compulsions; excessive showering, grooming, and cleaning household items
- Checking compulsions; compulsively checking one’s body parts or that mistakes weren’t made
- Repeating compulsions; repeating routine activities or body movements
- Mental compulsions; counting while performing a task to end on a “good” number, praying to prevent harm, and so on
Such symptoms may manifest at the same time, but many cases of OCD may only present symptoms of one group.
OCD associations; other disorders and addiction
Finally, like many other mental health disorders, OCD is often associated or co-occurs with other mental health disorders and addiction disorders.
OCD and other mental health disorders
First, OCD treatment often needs to address simultaneous mental health disorders. Studies pinpoint the 5 most common ones as the following, in descending order:
- Major Depressive Disorder
- Social Phobia
- Panic Disorder
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
This is not unique to OCD, but it does require a careful, holistic approach to treatment.
OCD and SUDs
Second, OCD can also be a component of dual diagnosis. This phenomenon holds that mental health disorders can co-occur with Substance Use Disorders (SUDs), and is unfortunately common.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), 37.9% of adults with SUDs also have mental health disorders, and 18.2% of those with mental health disorders also have SUDs. OCD specifically does have one notable characteristic, however, which OCD Lantana FL treatment providers have noted. Namely, that OCD more commonly co-occurs with alcohol addiction.
OCD and AUDs
Indeed, OCD is more commonly associated with Alcohol Use Disorders (AUDs) than with other SUDs. In cases of dual diagnosis, this is highly relevant to note and will inform alcohol addiction treatment programs.
Research helps quantify this, finding that “27 percent [of OCD patients] met the criteria for a substance use disorder”. “Twelve percent […] qualified as alcohol dependent or alcoholic, while 11 percent were dependent on both drugs and alcohol”. Only 3% were only dependent on substances other than alcohol.
While exact connections have not yet been established, this is also a notable trend that OCD treatment must account for.
Is OCD treatable?
Given all of the above, OCD is generally not completely curable. Like many other mental health disorders, treatment focuses on treating the symptoms to allow the individual to maintain a fulfilling life.
Treatment options for OCD include:
- Medication, including serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
- Psychotherapy, most notably including Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Novel treatments, such as the recently FDA-approved Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)
As such, psychotherapy programs in combination with appropriate pharmacotherapy where needed are typically the best way to treat OCD. In our experience, such combinations tend to yield the best results.
Treatment options for OCD
Beyond CBT, other forms of psychotherapy can see use in treating cases of OCD which include other disorders. These include:
- Dialectic Behavior Therapy (DBT), an established variant of CBT
- Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), a potent type of psychotherapy fit for depressive disorders
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), a type of psychotherapy developed to treat PTSD and adjacent depressive disorders
The use of such therapies will differ depending on the case, but all established psychotherapy types can prove to be potent treatment tools. At Archstone Recovery, our staff includes fully certified, experienced clinicians, psychiatrists, and mental health professionals who will make thorough use of all such tools to best suit each case’s needs.
Treating addiction alongside OCD
Finally, as highlighted above, dual diagnoses require simultaneous OCD treatment and drug addiction treatment. To do so successfully and help our patients reclaim their lives, we apply this principle throughout our addiction treatment programs:
- In our residential treatment program, patients focus on individual therapy as they cement their abstinence from substance use under clinical care
- Our Partial Hospitalization Program continues this direction, focusing on group therapy and family counseling alongside continued clinical services as needed
- Our aftercare program concludes and cements recovery, as it maintains open communication channels with therapists and treatment providers
This continuum of care leaves nothing to chance, and allows us to confidently claim we’re pioneers among treatment providers for OCD Lantana FL has to offer.
Archstone Recovery is here for you
OCD may vary in symptoms and severity, and its exact causes are still unclear. It’s rarely mild, however, and it can significantly impact the individual’s everyday life. It is commonly associated with other disorders as well, and can co-occur with substance addiction.
If you or your loved ones are in need of OCD treatment, we at Archstone Recovery are here to help. Together we can craft a journey to recovery that’s tailored to your specific case, letting you live the fulfilling life you deserve. If you’re ready to take the first step forward, feel free to contact us today and let your recovery begin.
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