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OCD

OCD Awareness Week 2017

The 9th-annual OCD Awareness Week begins today.

It always takes place during the second week in October with the purpose of raising awareness and understanding of OCD and related disorders, as well as the appropriate treatment. Many people with obsessive-compulsive disorder know that finding the right help is often one of the toughest battles in the fight against OCD.

Some estimates say it can take as long as 14-17 years from the onset of symptoms to get a correct diagnosis and treatment. Though my family didn't realize it at the time, my son was one of the lucky ones -- it took about two years after his diagnosis to get him the right help.

While that's "not bad" in terms of OCD treatment, it is still much too long. It should have taken days, maybe weeks, but certainly not two years.
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Anxiety and Panic

The Long Journey Home

Nearly three months ago, I found myself quietly celebrating an anniversary that very few people knew about. I really didn’t want to give it too much attention to be honest. I wanted to avoid triggering thoughts that would take me back to those moments when life wasn’t so great. However, as I sat with my computer I began to remember and I actually smiled.

Prior to 2016, I had lived with family members for over 7 years. After being hospitalized for my mental health condition, I was unable to maintain consistent employment, provide for my daughter, or live alone. It was challenging to find the right combination of medication, self-care techniques, social supports, faith guidance, and therapeutic connections that would allow me to regain my self-sufficiency. In addition, I lived in constant fear of failing.
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Caregivers

OCD and Shopping Anxiety

By the time my son Dan entered a residential treatment center for OCD, he was barely functioning. Using exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy he tackled his hierarchy (a list of anxiety-provoking situations created by the person with OCD), and slowly but surely regained his life.

During his stay, one of his exposures was to go on shopping trips and make purchases. All types of shopping proved difficult for him -- buying groceries and necessities, clothing, etc. But the more expensive purchases, particularly if they were for himself, seemed to be the most stressful.

But he did it. And he felt the overwhelming anxiety. And he refrained from doing compulsions. Over and over again until shopping was no longer an issue for him.
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Anxiety and Panic

Pedophilia OCD: When OCD Targets the Children in Your Life

Rhonda was a kind and religious woman. Most importantly, she adored her kids. However, one day, a fleeting thought showed up in her mind, “Did I touch Ronnie inappropriately,” as she was buckling her son in his car seat. Rhonda became anxious and couldn’t stop worrying about it. “Did I really touch him? What if I did? Am I a pervert? No, I’m not! I would never do such thing! But then, why do I feel anxious? Does that mean I did something wrong? Otherwise, I would not feel anxious.”

These and many similar thoughts began to occupy Rhonda’s mind. The more she tried to “get rid” of the thoughts or figure out why she was having them, the more they stuck.
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Anxiety and Panic

The New Normal

“On a scale of 1-10, how do you feel?”

It’s a question that most psychiatrists ask when assessing mood and medication maintenance. The scale is used to monitor feelings of anxiety, depression and other mental health issues. A patient’s response is the main test used for treatment.

But if 1 means that a person feels ecstatic, and 10 means they are suicidal, what is a 6 or a 3? What happens if a patient feels like something is wrong, but nothing has happened? Or if they can’t stop crying since their dog died last week? How much of an impact do average issues have? Are they really feeling an 8 or is the magnitude of sorrow dependent on the specific moment they are experiencing at the time? The scale has problems of its own.
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Depression

Therapist Grief

As a therapist, many people come in with issues with grief. For years I have tried to help clients figure out the well know Elisabeth Kubler Ross Stages of Grief and what stage in their grief they are in: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. It has been sad to watch clients suffer and deal with grief. I have wished many times that I could...
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Anxiety and Panic

Internet Therapy for Children with OCD

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is condition that affects about 2.2 million Americans and 750,000 people in the UK. It has two key features: thoughts that repeat themselves over and over again (called obsessive thoughts) and feeling that the person must do certain actions repeatedly (compulsions). The person thinks the thoughts are silly, but they cannot stop them. Sometimes only carrying out the actions stops the thoughts for a while. The typical example is thinking that your hands are dirty, even though you know they are not, and having to wash them repeatedly. The person can spend a huge chunk of the day carrying out these compulsions. This often makes it very difficult to function at all. This can be even more tragic when it affects a child.
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Habits

OCD and Sleep Timing

I’ve been writing about obsessive-compulsive disorder for about ten years now, and my most-read posts, by far, are those that discuss sleep and sleep deprivation. OCD, by its very nature, is unconducive to a good night’s sleep. How can you sleep when you have to continually check to make sure the door is locked or the stove is off? How can you relax when you need to review your entire day in your head to make sure you didn’t do anything wrong? How can you breathe easily when you find yourself ruminating on, of all things, not being able to sleep? Really, as anybody with OCD most likely knows, the possibilities are endless.
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Children and Teens

Educating Teacher and Students about OCD

As many of us are well aware, obsessive-compulsive disorder is often misunderstood.

Though I do believe progress is being made (albeit slowly) there is still a serious lack of understanding surrounding OCD. Most upsetting to me is when I come across professionals such as doctors, social workers, therapists, and teachers, who have little to no knowledge of what OCD entails.
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Bipolar

Mania: The Side Effect of Genius

The first psychiatrist I had ever met listened to me prattle on for about 15 minutes before she interrupted me, scowling:

"You have bipolar disorder, type 1."

And there, that was it. I was 21 years old. I didn't even question her as blurry memories of months of chaos filled my mind. I already knew my own diagnosis. But I hadn't bothered to absorb it, or think about it, until she stated it, in terms that sliced the air like one of my pocket knives.
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Personal

On Seeking Counseling Before You Need To

Many clients I see here in private practice in the Midwestern area of Illinois are often very stressed. They come in appearing very calm and as soon as I get to the point on my questionnaire about what brings them their they tell me, often with tears and a sense of shame about how long they have been struggling due to their busy lives, lack of self-care and fears of the judgement might have about them. We talk about the stressors they have been having throughout their lives and although they often say none at first, the more we talk the more profoundly amazed I am that they are doing so well holding all their emotions in for so long.

I often find myself asking, “why didn’t you come to talk about all your stress earlier?” ... and “why now?” They often give me a list of reasons for not coming in sooner are: that they believed that God could get rid of their anxiety if they prayed more and or their fears if they truly admitted they were stressed/anxious it might get a lot worse.
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General

TAO Connect: What if a Computer Could Help You with Psychotherapy, Alter Your Habits?

Computer-mediated training and psychotherapy -- that is, a computer program (whether an app, a website, or a piece of software) helping you learn something new, especially with regards to your thoughts, behaviors, and habits -- has been with us a long time. One of the pioneers in this space has been Australia's MoodGYM, first launched in 2001. It now has over 1 million users around the world and has been the subject of more than two dozen randomized clinical research trials showing that this inexpensive (or free!) intervention can work wonders on depression, for those who can stick with it. And online therapy has been available since 1996.

I like technology backed by science, because scientific data should drive developing new tools to help us change our thoughts, behaviors, and habits. It shouldn't just come from some random developer's pop psychology understanding of human behavior. Research data demonstrating a new intervention's efficacy is the best answer to countering the placebo effect, which we know is very strong for novel techniques and treatments.

That's why I also like what TAO Connect is doing, because it's based upon research and work pioneered at the University of Florida.

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