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Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for post-partum OCD: The transition to parenthood is difficult

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for post-partum OCD: The transition to parenthood is difficult

When you have OCD, the transition to parenthood isn’t always easy. It can be particularly difficult when you suffer from post-partum OCD, which involves having obsessive fears about harming your baby because of an overwhelming sense of responsibility and duty toward your child. Fortunately, there are effective treatment options available, including Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), that can help you heal from your OCD symptoms and prepare for the challenges of being a parent. 

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder 

OCD, or obsessive compulsive disorder, can be defined as an anxiety disorder characterized by recurrent obsessions (unwanted thoughts) and compulsions (actions that one feels compelled to do). OCD typically manifests in early adulthood with many people having their first episode by the time they are 20 years old. It has been estimated that up to 1% of the population will experience a chronic form of the disorder over their lifetime. 

OCD can be treated effectively with a combination of medications and psychotherapy. Exposure and response prevention therapy is effective for those whose symptoms have not responded well to medication alone. One component of exposure and response prevention therapy involves imaginal exposure, which entails writing out scenarios you fear may happen then reading them aloud until you no longer feel anxious about them. Exposure therapies also help patients identify triggers so that they can avoid things that make them anxious, such as going into public bathrooms or touching anything someone else may have touched before. 

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder after pregnancy 

The transition to parenthood can be fraught with challenges, including feeling out of control or experiencing intrusive thoughts. For some, this can lead to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) symptoms, which may include obsessions (unwanted thoughts) and compulsions (repeated behaviors). One treatment that has been shown effective in managing these symptoms is Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). ERP involves exposure to the unwanted thoughts without performing a compulsive behavior. If done consistently over time, this helps break the cycle of ritualized thinking and leads to a decrease in obsessive thoughts. In post-partum OCD , sufferers experience both obsessions about harming their baby and compulsions such as counting, reciting prayers, repeating words silently, or doing deep breathing exercises. Treatment usually begins with  sessions that teach patients how to identify when they are having an obsession and coping techniques to manage it. Next comes systematic desensitization through ERP; therapists gradually increase exposure time for mental exercises designed to help patients cope with their fears. 

My Symptoms During Pregnancy 

During my pregnancy, I developed obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) that revolved around intrusive thoughts about harming my baby. These intrusive thoughts were persistent and uncontrollable, causing me significant distress and anguish. Once I delivered my son, these thoughts worsened and became more extreme. When he was 2 months old, I began having visions of choking him or smothering him with a pillow. After receiving a diagnosis from a psychiatrist at, I was prescribed an anti-depressant called Lexapro. It did not seem to help much so we added the new anti-depressant Seroquel in addition to Lexapro. While there has been some improvement in my symptoms, they are still bothering me everyday. Acceptance and commitment therapy has helped tremendously by teaching me how to live with them rather than fighting against them all the time. Now when I have distressing thoughts, I notice but try not to dwell on them. 

What Helped Me Through Pregnancy 

I was in a very dark place during my pregnancy. I had a lot of obsessions that consumed me, including thoughts about hurting the baby. I felt like I couldn’t cope with the pregnancy because of these thoughts, but luckily my therapist told me about Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). This therapy has taught me to accept my thoughts without judgment while still moving forward in life. ACT helped me find peace with my thoughts and not let them hold me back. Now I’m able to have more confidence in myself as a mom, knowing that I can take care of my child even though I have intrusive thoughts sometimes. 

Depression, Anxiety and Sleeping Problems After Having A Baby 

If you’re struggling with depression, anxiety, sleeping problems or any other mental health issue after the birth of your baby, it’s important to know that these feelings are normal. Postpartum OCD is a relatively new diagnosis in the DSM-5, but this doesn’t mean you’re alone. It’s not uncommon for new mothers to struggle with intrusive thoughts that their baby will be harmed or die. These may cause obsessive compulsive rituals like checking on the child over and over again, locking doors repeatedly or even compulsively washing hands. For some women, these obsessions can become so severe that they start to make decisions based on whether they think they’ll help prevent harm from happening. If you are looking for a referral or help with symptoms like these, please contact us at Better Living Center for Behavioral Health. 

Hit and Run OCD: Exposing Yourself to Your Fears

Hit and Run OCD: Exposing Yourself to Your Fears

It’s Saturday morning and you’re sitting at home reading the paper. Suddenly your mind starts to play tricks on you, causing you to doubt your own experience. You start to doubt whether you did indeed turn the stove off before heading out the door, so you have no choice but to return home to check—even though logically you already know it should be fine… In this article we’ll look at what hit and run OCD is and how it can be helped with exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy.

What Is Hit and Run OCD?

Hit and Run OCD is a form of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) in which you find yourself obsessing over the idea that you may have done something or not done something (e.g., hit another driver or a pedestrian while driving). When you experience these thoughts, they are accompanied by feelings of anxiety. These thoughts can be so consuming that they hinder your ability to function at work, school, or in social settings. The good news is there are several treatments available for those with OCD. One of the most well-known is acceptance and commitment therapy, or ACT.

Examples of Hit and Run Attacks

If you’re currently struggling with Hit and Run OCD, there are many things that you can do to stop the attacks. One thing is to get exposure therapy, which will help bring you closer to your fears. But there are other methods as well, such as getting involved in activities that will make you feel less anxious or getting enough sleep. Acceptance and commitment therapy is also a good option because it helps people accept their thoughts instead of fighting them. It’s all about changing what they’re telling themselves, which isn’t always easy. If you have symptoms like these, please contact us for a referral or for treatment at Better Living Center for Behavioral Health.

The Importance of Seeing an OCD Specialist for False Memory OCD

The Importance of Seeing an OCD Specialist for False Memory OCD

If you suffer from what has been dubbed false memory OCD, it can be confusing to figure out if you actually have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or if what you are experiencing falls under an entirely different subtype. Part of the confusion stems from the fact that false memory OCD shares many of the same features as other forms of obsessive-compulsive disorder, like harm obsessions and unwelcome intrusive thoughts. However, there are some distinct differences which mark this subtype as its own unique diagnosis. 

How Obsessive Compulsive Disorder can affect you 

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is a mental health condition in which someone experiences unwanted and intrusive thoughts (obsessions) that cause them great anxiety. The person with the disorder then performs repetitive behaviors or mental acts (compulsions) as a way to reduce the anxiety caused by their obsessions. These compulsions can take up hours out of a day, and can be followed by guilt and shame. 

Symptoms of False Memory OCD 

If you are questioning whether you might have false memory OCD, here may be signs to look out for. Are you constantly questioning if your memories are real? Do you get intrusive thoughts telling you that your memories are fake and that the person in them isn’t who they claim to be? Have you had these thoughts since a traumatic event? If so, please seek professional help. The best way to diagnose false memory OCD is through a mental health specialist. In order to find the right specialist, it’s important to know that this type of OCD can only be treated by a psychologist or psychiatrist with experience treating patients with this type of OCD. In addition, there are other forms of treatment available such as medication (to reduce anxiety), cognitive-behavioral therapy (to learn how to control obsessions) or exposure response prevention (to address avoidance). 

What happens during treatment 

The treatment for false memory OCD is often a combination of individual therapy, group therapy, and medication. While the treatment may vary depending on the severity of your symptoms, there are many things that you can do to help yourself recover. These include developing coping skills to deal with intrusive thoughts, identifying when you’re using avoidance as a coping strategy, and practicing self-compassion. If you’re experiencing these obsessive worries, it’s important to seek professional help. An OCD specialist will be able to provide information about this type of OCD and develop an appropriate treatment plan. 

Relationship OCD: A form of OCD that often damages the relationships where we most seek to be certain

Relationship OCD: A form of OCD that often damages the relationships where we most seek to be certain

Relationship OCD, or ROCD, refers to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) symptoms centered around relationships with partners, family members, friends and co-workers. As can be seen from the symptoms below, ROCD sufferers obsess over fears that they’re not in the right relationship or that taking some step in the relationship will be the wrong step. In an attempt to protect themselves from relationship failure and ensure their happiness, individuals with ROCD may sabotage their relationships or inadvertently damage them over time.

 

Common Triggers
Relationship OCD symptoms are typically triggered by an event or situation in a relationship, such as asking a partner to move in together or getting married. It can also be triggered by something a partner does or doesn’t do. For example, if your partner has been spending more time with friends and family than with you, you might start questioning your place in their life. Or if they don’t respond to a text message right away, you might begin worrying about whether they still love you. If you have ROCD, any change in your relationship could potentially cause anxiety. This is because when it comes to relationships, certainty is everything. The idea of not knowing what will happen next is terrifying for someone with ROCD. Often ROCD suffers will chose to end relationships they truly value, in order to be certain not to harm the other person or to be sure they aren’t making a wrong choice that cannot be undone at a later time.
First Steps
If you suspect you have Relationship OCD, seek help from a professional with speciality in OCD. Clinicians without experience treating OCD may often inadvertently worsen the condition by providing reassurance or engaging in debates with clients that cannot come to real ‘certainty.’ This may also lead to a tendency for clients to seek out clinicians to make the important decisions in their lives for them, in order to feel more certainty or less responsibility for the outcome of their decisions. This condition should not be managed on your own. Your therapist will help you use Exposure and Response Prevention therapy to work on facing relationship fears without resorting to reassurance seeking or other safety behaviors. Don’t let Relationship OCD become a barrier to finding a healthy relationship. Recovering means learning how to face uncertainty without fear—you can do it! And remember, treatment works!

Dealing with your Anxiety
Step 1 – Reaching out for help. The first step in dealing with relationship OCD is to reach out for help. You may want to reach out to an OCD specialist prior to discussing ROCD in detail with the individuals whom it involves in your life. For example, loving partners often have great difficulty understanding why doubt exists and can sometimes take offense or behavior in ways that worsen the doubt with the best intentions. If ROCD exists, an expert clinician is likely to be willing to support you in explaining your symptoms to the individuals whom your doubt targets in ways that better help you potentially preserve the relationship and gain real support from your relationships that help you reduce your ROCD symptoms. One thing that is not typically recommended, is ending relationships simply to feel more certainty in the moment – ROCD typically attaches itself to different relationships. Therefore, ending relationships to reduce momentary discomfort can set up a cycle where symptoms arise again with a new relationship which in turn causes the individual to again end the relationship.

Moving On Through Treatment
Relationship OCD is an insidious condition in which sufferers are plagued by thoughts about their relationship. These thoughts almost always focus on whether or not their current partner is the right one, and thus cause ROCD sufferers to have a difficult time moving forward with intimacy in their lives. It is possible, however, for those suffering from Relationship OCD to move on with their lives if they address their symptoms early enough. The first step toward doing so is recognizing that you may have Relationship OCD. Treatment for ROCD with an expert therapist should involve exposures to help you face your uncertainty and may involve meetings with family or important relationships, should you want these, to help your supporters understand what you are going through.
Differences in Early and Late Onset OCD

Differences in Early and Late Onset OCD

Pinto et al. (2006) defined OCD as “a neuropsychiatric condition characterized by recurrent intrusive thoughts (obsessions) and repetitive behaviors that the individual feels driven to perform (compulsions)” (pg.1 ).  The researchers sought to investigate predictors of remission/relapse among those treated for OCD.

Over five years, 293 adults were monitored and researchers measured their OCD symptoms. Researchers found those with early and late onset symptoms experience an increase in symptoms over time without effective treatment. Additional findings show a considerable amount of time between symptom onset and first initiation of treatment. Individuals in the study reported an average of 17 years from initial symptom experience to treatment initiation and 11 of delay from meeting diagnostic criteria for OCD until treatment initiation. Many clients reported spending a number of years misdiagnosed before initiating appropriate treatment for OCD.  

Researchers found the average onset for early onset OCD was 11-12 years old, while late onset OCD was 25-26 years-of-age. The first clinical symptom(s), obsessions and compulsions, 53% of participants indicated an obsession and 47% experiencing a compulsion. Interviews also found aggressive content obsessions, hoarding obsessions and compulsions as primary themes in distress. Contamination was shown as the most frequently reported subcategory for obsessions. Those with earlier onset symptoms also experienced higher rates of panic symptoms and disordered (Pinto et al., 2006).

Written by Perry Leynor, MA, LPC Associate supervised by Paula Maloney, LPC Supervisor.

Pinto, A., Mancebo, M. C., Eisen, J. L., Pagano, M. E., & Rasmussen, S. A. (2006). The Brown Longitudinal obsessive COMPULSIVE Study. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 67(05), 703-711. https://doi:10.4088/jcp.v67n0503