Treating Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder With Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) is based on the idea that your thought can affect your feelings and eventually your behaviors. The premise is that the way you explain your situation determines your emotional responses. Hundreds of studies have proven that learning to improve the way you think can make you feel better and allow you to lead a better life.

If you have OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder), your feeling will be distorted in various ways. This may cause discrepancies between your feelings and the actual situation. Researchers have discovered how a person with OCD tends to describe their situations as problematic. To treat obsessive-compulsive disorder in a more balanced way, sufferers need to modify these misconceptions so that they can improve their thinking process.

Although people with OCD can explain many events in their lives just like most people do, they explain them in a highly distorted way. Distortion occurs mainly in response to the wrong interpretation of events. Therefore, a person with obsessive-compulsive disorder that fears contamination may despise dirty towels, but probably will not be concerned with performing dangerous activities.

These are seven common characteristics of people with obsessive-compulsive disorder:

  • Doubt
  • Exaggeration
  • Consider any thought or imagination as real
  • Confuse between facts and feelings
  • Constantly want to make improvement
  • Being excessively responsible
  • Constantly need to control their thoughts

Although some of these distortions also appear in other disorders, they can be especially troublesome on people with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

CBT technique is designed to improve the way you think about your life, which will result in behavior changes. When CBT is applied to the distorted interpretation of people with obsessive-compulsive disorder, it can help them to more accurately assess an experience.

People with OCD can’t relate their situation with reality and evidences, instead their thoughts are based on ideas that may not necessarily be true. They fail to process information gathered by senses, i.e. visual, touch, hearing, smell and taste, to help them define an accurate assessment on reality.

The minds of people obsessive-compulsive disorder are often clouded by a particular topic or issue (eg, diseases, pollution, crime, etc.), which make it almost impossible to see the reality. They are usually convinced that their ideas are based on common sense and good intuition. In other words, they do not trust the feelings and views of others. Distress in people with OCD is usually caused by a premise that very bad things can happen to them. They think that maybe, just maybe their obsessions can become a reality, especially if no measures are taken to prevent it.

Natural gas has a rotten-egg smell to serve as a leakage warning. Of course, some dangers are not detectable by human senses. In many cases, warning signs such as “Danger: High Voltage” or “Winding Road” are posted when necessary. These warning signs are used to allow people understand about potential dangers, which enable them to make a more accurate risk assessment. However, OCD minds tend to create warning signs that are based entirely on fiction and wild imaginations. The lack of accurate analysis makes their suspicions even more compelling, because they can’t be debunked and disconfirmed. Because imagination can’t be confirmed by senses, it continues to drift away from any possible reality.

To change the way people with OCD think, the first step is to understand the basis of their thinking process. If you are troubled by obsessive doubts, ask yourself the following questions to help you understand whether these doubts are related to reality:

• Are your thoughts confirmed by your senses (sight, hearing, smell, taste, or touch)?

• Does your question seem to have a life of its own life and keep on coming back, even if there are no evidences to support it?

• Do you have any thought that other people consider as illogical?

• Is there anything that can convince you that your thought can be false?

Determining reality based on information gathered by senses, may prevent suspicions and doubts to come back without new supporting evidences and other people see them as reasonable. Realistic doubts may keep you safe but suspicions of OCD people can only cause anxiety. Even so, doubt and uncertainty can never be completely eliminated even in a normal person and must be seen as an inherent part of human life.

People with OCD tend to exaggerate risks. These exaggerations tend to increase the level of anxiety and distress. Fear of being contaminated is one of the most common OCD types. Normal people know that touching a door handle can spread cold virus. However, because they touch door handles every day without contracting any disease, they are able to ignore most risks. They know that catching a cold is hardly fatal. However, people with OCD believe that door handles are infested with billions of highly contagious bacteria and virus that can cause HIV, influenza, tuberculosis, SARS, you name it. Touching a door handle set off an emergency alarm in their minds. There are compelled to take immediate action to eliminate microorganisms and prevent disease. They believe a common cold is potentially fatal, as it can develop into a deadly type of pneumonia. A common way to deal with exaggeration on people with OCD is to examine evidences and the logic behind each obsessive fear. With professional helps, sufferers may determine which evidences that can help them to re-evaluate risk accurately. And when the treatment works well, it can greatly facilitate the recovery process. Consider these statements when dealing with OCD:

• I have no direct evidence that confirm my fears.

• These thoughts have appeared often, but none of them come true.

• Other people do not experience the same fear and they are perfectly fine.

Treating OCD with cognitive behavioral therapy may take some time, but they are proven to work on many people.

1 comment

  1. Frances Reply
    February 6, 2014 at 7:26 pm

    I think this an excellent article. A close family member has this condition and it very accurately describes it. I rarely read articles outlining the firmly held completely exaggerated views held.

    There is no logic and thought processes are totally haywire.

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