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Friday, December 9, 2011

OCD Treatment More Than Behavior Therapy

by Dr. Craig April, Director of The April Center for Anxiety Attack Management - Los Angeles

OCD treatment is more than Behavior Therapy. It also includes a cognitive focus. This is the "C" in CBT (Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy).

When someone comes to my center for help, the cognitive side of OCD is often shared first.   For example, although OCD comes with a host of behaviors that are ritualistic and compulsive, it is the thoughts that most are more concerned about. 

These thoughts are "Obsessions" - One of the hallmarks of OCD, as I've discussed in some of my other posts.

However, there is an additional consideration beyond the obsesions and the beliefs, perspectives and attitudes that maintain anxiety for those suffering with the symptoms of OCD.  In a word, I'm talking about sensitivity.

Most people with OCD are just more sensitive than the rest.  And yet, this is not an automatic negative nor does it have anything to do with a real weakness. 

It may simply be a case of neurobiological sensitivity.  In other words, most individuals with OCD just tend to have more sensitive systems than others.  This can create a variety of experiences, such as:

- frequent minor aches, pains or ailments
- sensitivity to medications and their side effects
- struggles with certain sounds, loud noises and environmental over-stimulation
- awareness of small fluctuations, nuances and sensations within one's body

This sensitivity also can effect the emotional side of experience.  For example, those with OCD tend to be more sensitive to their emotions.  Following OCD treatment, this can result in greater awareness of one's own and other people's feelings, which can deepen the quality of relationships.

Being "sensitive" seems to come with society's strong negative connotation. And yet, this sensitivity offers the ability to take care of oneself more easily due to awareness.  It can also offer stronger positive feelings and experiences of life.

As for OCD treatment and cognitive behavioral strategies, part of the focus is on addressing how biological sensitivity impacts one's thoughts and then feelings. For example, a common struggle for those with OCD can be difficulty tolerating certain sounds, like someone's chewing or breathing.  These can often send someone with OCD "through the roof" of frustration and irritation. It is easy for those with OCD to personalize these experiences and get angry at the noisy perpetrator.  Meanwhile, this experience simply has to do with biological sensitivity.  The noisy eater is not at fault!  

With this awareness can come greater self control.  Then these sounds don't result in an OCD sufferer's controlling or angry behavior.  

Awareness and Acceptance of this biological sensitivity can go a long way.   Therefore, OCD treatment should address both, in addition to behavior therapy and cognitive therapy's focus on obsessions. 

And to all those sensitive individuals out there, remember to find the strength in your sensitivity!

All the best,

Director of The April center For Anxiety Attack Management - Los Angeles

P. S.  Don't forget to sign up for my anxiety newsletter on my website's home page where you'll receive free anxiety tips!

The April Center for Anxiety Attack Management - Los Angeles and The South Bay

The April Center for Anxiety Attack Management is committed to helping you remove the destructive barriers of anxiety, so that you may lead a calmer, healthier, happier life.

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