All Posts in Category: Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Hoarding and OCD

We all know someone who has a collection of some items that has special meaning to them. You probably have a friend who loves turtles, for example, and has a shelf full of whimsical turtle statues. Often, men will have sports-related memorabilia tucked into several corners of their home or hunting trophies hanging in their den. While these collections are generally harmless, there are people who compulsively collect “stuff” and have accumulated so much that their possessions have literally taken over their home or yard. When a person’s life begins to be so affected by their items that they can no longer safely live in their home or they aren’t able to give up even a tiny portion of their collection, they’ve crossed over into the realm of hoarding.

Hoard Definition

A hoarder is defined by the American Psychiatric Association as a person who “excessively saves items that others may view as worthless and has persistent difficulty getting rid of or parting with possessions, leading to clutter that disrupts their ability to use their living or work spaces.” This isn’t to say that someone is a hoarder simply because they have an assortment of specific items like model cars: collectors focus on something specific and will often display them or organize them somehow. When people hoard items, however, they generally save random, unrelated items and store them haphazardly.

In most cases, a hoarder saves things that they feel:

  • they may need in the future
  • are/will be valuable
  • have sentimental value
  • make them feel safer when they are surrounded by the things they save

The APA says those with the condition – and their families – suffer negative social, emotional and physical effects to the point where there is a disruption of normal life. People who hoard, however, often don’t see the problem: many will live in unsafe and unsanitary conditions in order to maintain and add to their collection of items.

Hoarding Symptoms

Hoarding symptoms may include some or all of the following:

  • A persistent inability to part with any possession, regardless of its value or ability to be used
  • Feeling excessive discomfort if others touch or borrow items or distress at the idea of losing an item or getting rid of it
  • Inability to use an area of the home for its intended purpose (for example, being unable to cook in the kitchen or use the bathroom to bathe)
  • Keeping stacks of newspapers, magazines or junk mail
  • Allowing trash or food to build up to unusually excessive, unsanitary levels
  • Limited or no social interaction
  • Difficulty organizing items, sometimes losing important items in the clutter
  • Difficulty managing daily activities because of procrastination and trouble making decisions
  • Moving items from one pile to another, without discarding anything
  • Shame or embarrassment

Are Hoarding and OCD Related?

Hoarding has long been thought to be a form of OCD or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder because of the victim’s fixation on their items. Often, it can be traumatic for them to discard even one or two items because of their strong need to save things.

Recently, however, some researchers have come to believe that hoarding disorder isn’t the same for all people: they think hoarding may be related to ADHD and/or dementia in certain people.

Hoarding Therapy

Treatment of hoarding disorder can be challenging because many people either don’t recognize the negative impact that hoarding has on their lives or they don’t believe they need treatment. When they do seek out a therapist, hoarding therapy generally follows a similar path as treatment for OCD. Often, the most effective means is a combination of medication and therapy.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy is used to help the person become aware of their thoughts, emotions, and beliefs about their hoarding and help them identify and challenge inaccurate thinking. Certain anti-depressants have been found to be effective in treating the disorder. Frequently, family or group therapy is encouraged. Over time, the need to hoard can be overcome and learning to take small steps can lead to big changes.

We Can Help!

If you or a loved one has symptoms of hoarding disorder, talk with a doctor or mental health provider as soon as possible. Additionally, some communities have agencies that help with hoarding problems. Check with your local or county government for resources in your area.

For more information or to talk to a mental health professional about hoarding, contact Dr. Rosen or call The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida at 561-496-1094.

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Obsessive-Compulsiveness in New Mothers

With new motherhood comes a variety of changes. Of course, most parents are told to expect the sleepless nights and the constant feedings. What you may not be told, however, is how much you’ll worry about the health of your little one. This seems to be especially true of new mothers.

It makes sense. Here’s this brand new, tiny, baby that seems so helpless and so susceptible to danger from even the most insignificant things. They can get sick at the drop of the hat and everything is a guessing game because they can’t tell you what’s wrong. It’s no wonder that studies report that around 11% of new mothers exhibit obsessive-compulsive behaviors after the birth of their child.

When Should You Be Concerned?

What is OCD? Simply put, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized by unreasonable thoughts and fears that lead to repetitive behaviors. As an example, there is nothing wrong with double checking to make sure you strapped the baby into the car seat. However, there may be a concern if you must check to see that the baby is in the car seat two or three times before leaving, every time you drive somewhere.

Other examples of possible OCD symptoms from new mothers could include:

  • Washing your baby after every feeding
  • Constantly sterilizing all the baby’s equipment and toys
  • Being terrified of anyone else holding your baby
  • Washing all of the bedclothes on a daily basis
  • Washing your hands at set periods of time to ensure they stay clean

Looking at these examples, it is easy to see how these “obsessions” can cross the line from being reasonable to unreasonable. Giving in to the compulsions that come from your anxieties can impact your relationships, sleeping patterns, and eating habits, just to name a few. Once they begin to negatively affect your life like this, it’s time to seek help.

What are the Causes of OCD?

Many things can cause or increase your risk of developing OCD, such as family history and biological changes like the ones most women experience with childbirth. However, one of the leading risk factors for developing obsessive-compulsive disorder is stressful life changes.

It makes sense, then, that having a baby can be such a huge trigger for new mothers. Many mothers experience a lot of the same worries:

  • Fear that they won’t be good parents
  • Pressure to prove themselves to others
  • A need for control in an uncertain situation
  • Fear that their child will fall ill
  • Fear of hurting their child

It’s normal to have these concerns. However, it’s important that new mothers keep these fears from taking over their lives. The best way to do this is to not keep these feelings and thoughts to yourself. However, this is where obsessive-compulsive disorder often becomes a difficult catch-22.

Many new mothers may worry about the way others will view them if they admit their anxieties. Even worse, the thought of talking to their doctor about their fears may increase the apprehension they already have. If they worry, for example, that they have to prove they are a good parent, then wouldn’t admitting this type of problem prove that they aren’t?

Seeking Help

As with most disorders, admitting you have a problem is the first step toward fixing it. Disclosing your concerns can make you more open to suggestions from loved ones who have an outsider’s view of your compulsions. It can also help you recognize when you’re falling into them. And, in the event that you’re unable to control your compulsions on your own, admitting your fears can be the first step toward seeking support from a professional who can help you learn to cope with your concerns and anxieties.

If you or someone you know has become negatively impacted by the worries and pressures of new motherhood, don’t feel like you have to go through this alone. Call us at 561-496-1094 or contact us today, and get yourself back on the path to enjoying life and your precious bundle of joy.

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What is Religious OCD?

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized by unwanted, intrusive thoughts and anxiety (obsessions) about something and the behaviors (compulsions) that people who suffer from the condition use to relieve the anxiety. This particular anxiety disorder represents a very serious condition that often grips the victim’s mind with fear and, in a very real way, controls their lives.

OCD is a broad disorder that encompasses many subgroups: in the case of religious OCD (also known as scrupulosity), the person is fixated on obsessions that are based in religion and/or religious beliefs, or around beliefs concerning morality. People who experience this form of OCD suffer from obsessive religious doubts and fears, unwanted blasphemous thoughts and images, as well as compulsive religious rituals, reassurance seeking, and avoidance.

People with religious OCD strongly believe in and fear punishment from a divine being or deity. Experts estimate that anywhere between 5% and 33% of people with OCD may experience scrupulosity and the number likely rises to between 50% and 60% in OCD sufferers who come from within very strict religious cultures. Even people who are not particularly religious can suffer from scrupulosity because they worry about being morally compromised or unintentionally offending others. A common thread throughout the spectrum is the linking of thoughts and actions: people with scrupulosity believe their thoughts are the same as actions, so they worry not just about what they have done, but also about what they have thought.

Examples of Religious OCD

Religious OCD can take many forms. A CNN news article tells the story of a Jewish woman who was so consumed with obsessions surrounding exposure to pork that she spent a large amount of time each day washing her hands and cleaning items that could even have remotely had the potential to come into contact with pork. An ABC News report discusses the problems of one Catholic woman who was faced with saying hundreds of prayers a day to obtain forgiveness for her self-perceived wrongdoings. The same article recounts a story about a man who eventually stopped eating and speaking in an attempt to please God by making sacrifices similar to those made by certain biblical figures. Even pillars of religious faiths may have been victims of scrupulosity: it has been suggested that both Martin Luther and St. Ignatius of Loyola may have exhibited religious obsessions.

Symptoms of Religious OCD

Scrupulosity rituals can include such behaviors as:

  • Compulsively praying, which can involve restarting the prayer if you get distracted while saying it and/or repeating it if you didn’t feel you were concentrating properly on the prayer or on the meaning of the prayer
  • Asking others if you are behaving correctly or if you “did the right thing”or analyzing your behavior throughout the day to be sure you are acting “appropriately”
  • Reading or studying religious writings, books, and texts excessively
  • Questioning your motives in numerous situations
  • Excessively apologizing to a deity (God, Allah, etc) and seeking forgiveness for your behavior

Treatment for Religious OCD

As with other forms of obsessive compulsive disorder, treatment for religious OCD involves cognitive behavior therapy. In some cases, medicines are combined with this type of exposure and response therapy. A patient will not be asked to give up his religion when undergoing therapy, instead he are given ways to face his triggers and live within his faith and religious traditions. Additionally, those patients who may not be able to travel to a therapists’office may be able to receive treatment over the phone or on a computer-based application such as Skype or FaceTime.

Have Questions? Need Help?

To get more information and help for scrupulosity and religious OCD, please contact Dr. Andrew Rosen and The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida at 561-496-1094 or email Dr. Rosen and The Center today.

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Superstitious Behavior Psychology

Let’s face it, everyone has exhibited superstitious behavior at some point: we probably can all think of someone we know who always plays a certain set of lucky lottery numbers and most of us have crossed our fingers at one time or another for luck. Believing a little superstitiously can make us feel like we have some control over various circumstances and can help us make sense of a situation. But when rituals need to be repeated over and over to avoid perceived negative outcomes and this type of behavior begins to rule someone’s life, it has spiraled out of control, causing more anxiety than it relieves. At this point, the superstitious behavior psychology can be, and often is, a form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

The Difference between Superstitious Behavior Psychology and OCD

You might worry that your superstitious behavior is actually a sign that you have OCD, so here is how you can tell the difference:

  • Before running a race, do you wear a certain pair of “lucky” shorts because you won your last few races while wearing them? That is a facet of superstitious behavior. Why? Because, while wearing the shorts can help give you confidence and provide positive thoughts, you aren’t performing a ritual wherein your success in the race depends on the repetition of a certain behavior.
  • Do you attribute the outcome of a situation to the “magic” of the ritual you perform? That is a sign of superstitious OCD. As an example, if you feel that you must take a certain number of practice swings at a golf ball in order to do well on each hole, that is more in the realm of OCD. Why? Because, if you get so anxious that you can’t complete the hole if the number of swings is interrupted or if something hinders your ritual, you are obsessing about it.
  • In superstitious OCD, a “normal” superstition becomes disabling. Superstitious behavior psychology might make someone avoid booking a hotel room on the 13th floor, but a person with superstitious OCD would find they couldn’t step on a crack in the sidewalk without having to complete a certain ritual to avoid the evil that would be sure to befall them or someone they love for their perceived transgression.

What Does Religion Have To Do With It?

For people with OCD, religion can enter into their obsessions in the form of trying to pray correctly or feeling that if certain rituals aren’t followed correctly, the things that go wrong in the world around them are their fault. This type of religious OCD is called “scrupulosity”. For example, a Jewish person with this condition may feel that if they have been exposed to pork in any form and can’t get “clean enough,” and then subsequently something bad happens to a family member, it is a punishment because the OCD patient has offended God. In another example, a Catholic person may worry that if they haven’t kneeled correctly at the altar or haven’t said the rosary properly or a certain number of times, disaster will come to themselves or their loved ones.

How to Get Help

As with any type of OCD, help comes in the form of both therapy and medication. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Exposure Therapy help the person in treatment learn to face the situations that trigger their obsessions. In these types of therapy, the patient is gradually encouraged to put themselves in situations that would normally trigger their rituals and then discouraged from performing them. By taking these guided risks, the OCD patient learns that their fears are unfounded. Additionally, certain medications such as antidepressants are helpful in reducing the symptoms of OCD and religious OCD.

To get more information and help for OCD and/or superstitious behavior or religious OCD, please contact Dr. Andrew Rosen and The Center for Treatment of Anxiety Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida at 561-496-1094 or email Dr. Rosen and The Center today.

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HOCD

HOCD or Homosexual Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is defined as the questioning of one’s sexuality by a person who already suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). What this means is that someone with OCD who is happy in their straight, heterosexual orientation becomes fixated on the question of whether or not they are actually gay. Over time, these thoughts and worries about the possibility of being gay begin to consume their lives.

People with OCD experience their obsessions in different ways from each other, but the underlying premise is that they are dealing with disturbing unwanted or intrusive thoughts. An example would be that a person who suffers from OCD is physically healthy but begins to worry about whether they actually have cancer or another serious illness. In the case of HOCD, straight people with the disorder spend countless hours wondering if they could really be gay or if they could suddenly become gay (conversely, homosexuals with Straight OCD, constantly worry if they are, or could become, straight). People with HOCD expend a great deal of energy and countless hours trying to “know”, without a doubt, that they are straight and not gay.

The Differences Between Being Homosexual and Having HOCD

So, if you are questioning your sexuality, how do you know the difference between having HOCD and actually being gay?

Typical HOCD symptoms include:

  • Currently suffering from OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)
  • Recurring unwanted or intrusive thoughts about your own sexuality
  • Constantly reassuring yourself that you are straight
  • Avoiding people of your same gender due to anxiety or unwanted fears that you might be gay
  • Worrying that you might be sending out “signals” that will make others think you are gay
  • Homosexual thoughts are repulsive to you, rather than arousing
  • Feeling no attraction to your same sex
  • Repeating an action because you worry that you might have done something in a way that makes others think you are gay (example: a man repeatedly gets up and sits down on a chair because he worries that he takes a seat in a way that looks too feminine). Repeating the action relieves the anxiety, but you need to continue repeating the action to continue anxiety relief.

Typical Homosexual characteristics include:

  • Homosexual thoughts are enjoyable and/or arousing to the person, even if they hide their sexual orientation from others or are ashamed of it
  • Having had past sexual experiences with those of their same gender
  • Preferring to date or have sexual encounters with people of their same gender instead of with those of the opposite sex
  • Often, people who are gay report having felt differently than their same-sex peers at an early age. Additionally, researchers have found they preferred to engage in activities associated with the opposite sex from early childhood onward

HOCD Treatment

HOCD is treated in much the same way as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). In general, cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness-based therapy is used to help the person reduce their response to their thoughts and help them deal with their obsessions. Additionally, these behavior therapies may or may not be combined with medications such as SSRIs (Prozac, Zoloft, etc). By changing one’s behavior and responses towards one’s intrusive thoughts, it is possible to neutralize and eliminate the fixation.

For more information about HOCD or to explore treatment options, please contact Dr. Andrew Rosen and The Center for Treatment of Anxiety Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida at 561-496-1094 or email Dr. Rosen and The Center today.

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Hypersexuality

Hypersexuality or sex addiction is a dysfunctional obsession with sex. The disorder is characterized by:

  • Compulsive sexual behavior consisting of extreme sudden or frequent sexual urges or activity
  • Patterns of negative outcome (examples include emotional and physical health concerns, broken relationships, and legal and career troubles)
  • Attempts at self-correcting and failing to stop unwanted behavior despite repeated promises to themselves and others

The obsessive thoughts and behaviors of hypersexuality are considered to be a process addiction (for example, gambling is a process addiction) instead of a substance addiction (such as a drug addiction). Additionally, hypersexuality is usually classified as an obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and can be a symptom of OCD, as well as being a symptom of drug abuse, bipolar disorder and attention deficit disorder. The DSM IV for Psychiatric Disorders describes sex addiction as a “compulsive searching for multiple partners, compulsive fixation on an unattainable partner, compulsive masturbation, compulsive love relationships and compulsive sexuality in a relationship”.

This psychosexual behavior often begins with the sufferer subconsciously trying to manage emotional triggers in their life and alleviate distress. As the disorder progresses, the behavior develops into compulsive and uncontrollable impulses as the person becomes addicted to the pleasurable neurochemical changes in their brain that produce a “high”. This is similar to how drug or alcohol addicts constantly crave their next high. And, as with other addictions, because the underlying issues aren’t being addressed, the sex addict finds themselves locked in an endless cycle of inappropriate behavior, frustration, and unhappiness.

Often, those who exhibit hypersexuality will not look for therapy and treatment until they have hit rock bottom and have experienced significant negative consequences to their relationships, health, finances, and careers. In order to heal, a sex addict must take ownership of their behavior and will need to undergo intensive psychotherapy. Additionally, any spouse or partner of the sex addict will feel victimized and will need to work as hard as the addict in order to learn to trust them again. Still, with time and hard work, those with hypersexual disorder can overcome their unhealthy sexual compulsion and can look forward to a healthy future.

For more information and help for the treatment of hypersexuality, please contact Dr. Andrew Rosen and The Center for Treatment of Anxiety Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida at 561-496-1094 or email Dr. Rosen and The Center today.

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Obsessive and Intrusive Thoughts Often Increase After Shooting Tragedies Says South Florida Mental Health Expert

In recent weeks, we have all heard about the terrible shootings happening across America; first, the movie theater massacre in Aurora, Colorado, and then the Sikh temple shooting near Milwaukee. These incidents affect everyone substantially but they can have a severe impact on people who suffer from obsessive and intrusive thoughts as a result of an anxiety disorder.
           
Obsessive intrusive thoughts are one of the most common symptoms of anxiety disorders, and they can be increased dramatically by these types of stories. They are recurring scary, invasive notions and/or images that can be paralyzing and unrelenting. The more they occur, the more the person thinks about them, which further cements them into their psyche.
           
There are three types of obsessive intrusive thoughts:

  • Blasphemous religious thoughts revolve around concepts that are considered particularly sinful to the person thinking them
  • Inappropriate sexual thoughts or images can involve intimate actions with strangers, family, friends, or any number of other people
  • Catastrophic thoughts or violent obsessions involve visions/thoughts about harming others or oneself

It is the last of these that can easily be stirred up when a violent act such as a mass shooting occurs and is widely broadcast over the news channels. With 24/7 news stations continuously relating stories about the killer’s state of mind both before and after the event, it’s easy for victims of catastrophic intrusive thoughts to wonder if they could follow that same path. Each time the thought occurs, they may believe themselves more and more likely to follow the compulsion. These thoughts can be so powerful that the person may eventually cut themselves off from friends and family out of a fear for their loved one’s safety.

The good news is that there is help available to stop these intrusive thoughts, and for all anxiety disorders, in general. Your mental health professional may suggest exposure therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, or in some cases, medication. If you or someone you know is suffering from catastrophic intrusive thoughts, please seek help and get on the path of returning to a normal life.

For more information about obsessive and intrusive thoughts, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), or about anxiety disorders, contact Dr. Andrew Rosen and The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida. They can be reached by calling 561-496-1094 or by emailing Dr. Rosen and The Center today.

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HOCD – Homosexual OCD or the Fear of Being Gay

Homosexual Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (HOCD) is categorized by intrusive thoughts revolving around one’s sexual orientation. People with HOCD suffer through uncontrollable and unwanted intrusive thoughts and images that leave them in a state of fear and anxiety about whether they are truly straight.

A person suffering from this sub-type of OCD constantly doubts their sexual orientation:

  • A straight person worries whether they might actually be gay even though they haven’t doubted their sexual orientation in the past
  • They might worry that homosexuality is “catching”
  • They may think that talking with a gay person will make them act out by triggering their own latent homosexual tendencies

People with HOCD can be affected enough by their intrusive thoughts that they quit jobs, make dramatic life changes, or end relationships in order to avoid triggering their symptoms. Sometimes, HOCD sufferers are so sure they are gay that they actually “out” themselves and begin homosexual relationships. Where a truly gay person obtains happiness and relief in the act of revealing their homosexual orientation, HOCD people who “come out” continue to doubt their sexuality.

As with traditional OCD, people who are affected by this internalized homophobia engage in rituals to help them alleviate their anxiety and prove to themselves that they are truly straight. When around lesbians or gay men, they might check their bodies for arousal or question if they are attracted to the person. People with HOCD may also keep up a running mental dialogue or obsess over past sexual encounters in an effort to convince themselves that they are straight. They might also perform washing rituals if they are around a gay person, may act overtly to assure themselves of their sexual orientation, or may even blatantly act out against gay people in order to prove they are straight. Additionally, HOCD sufferers might avoid physical contact or being alone with gay people and may even carry this behavior into shunning same-sex public restrooms or not eating in public in case the food was prepared by a gay person.

Treatment for HOCD Symptoms

As with other Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (which asks the patient to face the situations that trigger their obsessions) can help with HOCD.  During therapy sessions the patient faces the situations that trigger their obsessions in order to learn how to deal with their internalized homophobia and reduce their fixation. In addition, certain medications are helpful in reducing the symptoms of OCD and HOCD.

Additionally, since HOCD is rather new, there is little research literature that specifically applies to this sub-disorder of OCD. Therefore, it is imperative that the mental health professional an HOCD sufferer consults with recognizes HOCD as a true anxiety disorder. If they don’t, they may counsel the person to help them accept their homosexuality which will only aggravate the person’s HOCD symptoms.

For more information and help with HOCD and HOCD symptoms in the Delray Beach, FL area, please contact Dr. Andrew Rosen at 561-496-1094 or email him today.

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Help For OCD in South Florida

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder affects more than three million people across the country. Many of us either know someone or have heard stories of acquaintances or co-workers who have unusual compulsions or behaviors: perhaps they turn the lights off and on five times before leaving any room, perhaps they wash their hands repeatedly, or maybe they feel the urge to double and triple check all work before handing it in to their boss. This type of behavior can often be classified as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), an anxiety disorder characterized by uncontrollable, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and repetitive, ritualized behaviors (compulsions) that a person feels compelled to perform. The OCD sufferer typically understands that their thoughts and compulsions are irrational but they are unable to stop themselves.

To understand this disorder and get help for OCD in South Florida, it’s very important to understand the five major behavior categories associated with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder:

  • Washers – These people are afraid of contamination and often engage in cleaning or hand-washing compulsions. This can develop as a result of a fear of germs or a fear of contaminating others they come in contact with.
  • Checkers – These individuals repeatedly check things they associate with harm or danger. This could mean going over locks and windows excessively to ensure they are secure or constantly seeking updates from loved ones to be sure they haven’t fallen into harm’s way.
  • Doubters and Sinners – They are afraid that something terrible will happen if they don’t perform certain actions just right. These compulsions often revolve around religion – the fear that they will be punished if they don’t perform a religious ritual perfectly or a certainty that performing a religious ritual will prevent a negative event.
  • Counters and Arrangers – These people are obsessed with order and symmetry. They tend to be superstitious about numbers, colors, and arrangements. This can include tapping, counting, repeating certain words or doing other senseless things to reduce anxiety.
  • Hoarders – They fear that something bad will happen if they throw anything away. They accumulate excessive amounts of unnecessary items, such as old newspapers, magazines, or empty food containers based on the concern that they might need them in the future.

These behaviors and compulsions may not seem too serious to those who haven’t experienced Obsessive Compulsive Disorder firsthand. The truth of the matter is that this particular anxiety disorder represents a very serious condition that often grips the victim’s mind with fear and, in a very real way, controls their lives. South Florida OCD sufferers should seek treatment once their obsessions begin to rule their life.

To get more information or for help for OCD in South Florida (Delray Beach area), contact Dr. Andrew Rosen at 561-496-1094 or email him today.

 

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Facts About Obsessive Intrusive Catastrophic Thoughts – South Florida Mental Health Counseling

Anxiety is a normal part of life. We all feel it at some point when we have a major test, interview, meeting, or some other important occasion approaching. For people who suffer from an anxiety disorder, however, this develops into an excessive, irrational dread of everyday situations to the point that it cripples the person’s lifestyle.
           
At the heart of most anxiety disorders are obsessive intrusive catastrophic thoughts. These are scary, intrusive thoughts and/or images that occur over and over. The more the person tries to stop them, the more they persist. Like anxiety, the average person experiences these types of thoughts at one point or another. However, for those with anxiety disorders such as obsessive compulsive disorder or depression, these thoughts become paralyzing, panic-provoking, and unrelenting.
           
Dr. Andrew Rosen, a South Florida mental health professional notes that there are three categories of obsessive thinking and intrusive thoughts:

  • Inappropriate aggressive thoughts or violent obsessions about harming others or oneself. Like many other intrusive thoughts, this is a part of being human, but for many they can become severe or distressing to the point that a person may be afraid to perform their typical daily functions.
    • Inappropriate sexual thoughts or images regarding intimate actions with strangers, acquaintances, family, friends, religious figures, or any number of other people. These thoughts often lead to confusion, guilt, shame, or self-loathing.
      • Irreverent religious thoughts that compel a person either toward acts they consider sinful or toward obsessive religious actions. A person crippled by these thoughts might feel a disturbing fear of reciting prayers incorrectly, or be tortured by the urge to perform blasphemous acts during religious rituals.

      If you or someone you know is dealing with obsessive intrusive catastrophic thoughts that have begun to obstruct their normal way of life, it’s important to seek help. Counseling for obsessive thoughts can include exposure therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy. Your South Florida mental health professional may also suggest combining therapy with medication depending on your individual situation. Without treatment, a person with this level of intrusive thoughts can eventually find themselves cut-off from their friends and family. But seeking treatment can help initiate a return to normal life.

      For more information about mental health therapy in South Florida or for help in dealing with obsessive intrusive catastrophic thoughts, call Dr. Andrew Rosen and The Center for Treatment of Anxiety Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida. They can be reached by calling 561-496-1094 or by emailing Dr. Rosen and The Center today.

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