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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

L. David Willison IV, MD, PhD

Psychiatrist located in Westwood, Los Angeles, CA

One out of 10 to 40 people is diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) at some point in their lives. Child, adolescent, and adult psychiatrist Dr. Willison helps patients and their families cope with OCD at his private practice in Los Angeles. Dr. Willison considers the treatment of OCD to be one of the most rewarding aspects of his career. To learn more, call to book an appointment today.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Q & A

What is obsessive-compulsive disorder?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common and pervasive mental health condition that involves a pattern of uncontrollable, repetitive thoughts and fears (obsessions) and irrational behaviors (compulsions). These obsessions and compulsions often cause distress and interfere with daily activities.

In OCD, the obsessive thoughts may compel you to engage in compulsive behaviors in an attempt to relieve the anxiety associated with them. However, this feeds a vicious cycle of anxiety and distress that is central to OCD.

What are the symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder?

Most people with OCD experience symptoms of both obsessions and compulsions, but you may have only one or the other.

Obsession symptoms

Obsessions are intrusive, unwanted, and persistent thoughts, images, or urges. They typically center around a particular theme, such as:

  • Fear of germs, dirt, or contamination.
  • Needing things to be orderly or symmetrical.
  • Aggressive thoughts of harming yourself or others.
  • Unwanted thoughts of taboo subjects, such as sexual violence.

These obsessive thoughts, urges, or mental images cause extreme anxiety that you may feel driven to alleviate by performing compulsive rituals.

Compulsion symptoms

Compulsions are repetitive behaviors that you may feel the urge to perform in response to an obsessive thought. Common compulsions include:

  • Excessive house cleaning and/or hand washing.
  • Counting and recounting.
  • Arranging things in a particular way.
  • Repeatedly checking things for reassurance.

Though many of these behaviors are normal on their own, OCD can cause them to interfere with daily life. You may wash your hands until your skin becomes raw, or spend more than an hour a day checking and rechecking to make sure your doors are locked.

What is the procedure for diagnosing and treating obsessive-compulsive disorder?

To diagnose obsessive-compulsive disorder, Dr. Willison performs a physical exam and complete psychiatric evaluation to rule out other mental health problems, such as depression or an anxiety disorder.

Then, he works with you to develop an individualized treatment plan. Dr. Willison specializes in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) with exposure response prevention (ERP). This combination of psychotherapies is considered the gold-standard treatment for OCD.

Depending on your needs, Dr. Willison may also recommend pharmacotherapy (medication), CBT/ERP, or family therapy plus CBT/ERP.

There is no cure for OCD, but proper treatment can dramatically improve the quality of life for you and your loved ones. Call the office of L. David Willison IV, MD, PhD, to book an appointment today.

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