Symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) often appear during childhood, though they may not become disruptive until you are a young adult. You are likely experiencing thoughts and/or images that are repetitive and irrational -- the obsessions. You probably also turn to certain behaviors or mental acts to reduce the anxiety -- the compulsions. However, the compulsive behaviors and mental acts usually only decrease the anxiety for a very short time. All of these obsessive thoughts and accompanying compulsive urges make you feel just plain stuck. You might even be so preoccupied with the obsessive thoughts and compulsive urges that you sometimes do not engage with the people around you. Or, if you do engage them, you may become frustrated when they do not go along with your cleaning, checking, or other compulsions.
The approach your therapist will use when addressing your OCD is called Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). From research studies, we know that ERP is the most effective treatment – backed by decades of science-based research. The word “exposure” in ERP means that you confront the thoughts and situations that make you anxious. The phrase “response prevention” suggests that you refrain from acting on your compulsive behavior or mental act both during and after the exposure period. This approach will bring some discomfort, and yet it will also retrain your brain and help you better manage your symptoms.
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