OCD Treatment

People worldwide suffering from OCD are looking for an effective OCD treatment. For anyone unsure of what OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) is one of the most popular sitcom characters portraying these symptoms was Monica Geller in Friends (who had an extreme obsession with being neat and having everything in order).

OCD is a mental and anxiety disorder where sufferers display uncontrollable, unwanted thoughts and actions that prove to be repetitive and ritualised but which are hard to stop. About 2% of the population will suffer from symptoms of this disorder. It is normally diagnosed in adolescents (approximately 1 in 100 children will be classified as obsessive compulsive) and is evident in more women than men.

A bit like a stuck record OCD makes the brain stick on a particular urge or thought. It may involve going back into the house 20 times to check you turned the iron off, repeatedly washing your hands, hoarding items not wanted/needed or more worryingly disturbing aggressive or sexual urges. People with OCD are often aware that their thoughts and actions are not rational and that it impacts negatively on their family, friends and social skills. They are not happy with their actions and are riddled with anxiety as well as shame, guilt and depression but are controlled by their compulsions. When someone gets to this stage it’s important that they seek treatment of OCD.

There are many OCD treatment options that are effective ranging from self-help, therapy and medication.

 

Self Help

There are countless self-help resources available for OCD treatment in the form of books, CD’s and DVD’s in addition to support groups of fellow sufferers.

It is important for obsessive-compulsive disorder sufferers to understand that their condition is a disorder and not something that means they are crazy (as in often portrayed in TV and movies). This involves reconditioning your brain so that if for example you get the urge to wash your hands after having just done it you tell yourself it is due to your compulsion as you can quite clearly see that your hands are already clean. Once you realise that it is the OCD that makes you act the way you do and not you yourself you have fought part of the battle. For many people it helps to write down their obsessive thoughts. It helps them face up to their issues and confront them.

The use of alcohol or drugs to control OCD will never work and must be avoided at all costs. Try replacing them with relaxation techniques and exercise and you will have a healthier body and outlook on life.

 

Cognitive Behavioural Disorder (CBT)

This is probably the most effective treatment for OCD and is a form of specialist “talking treatment”. It works loosely along the lines of the self-help strategies mentioned above but aided by sessions with a qualified therapist either one-to-one or as part of a group. Your therapist will usually recommend exposure and response prevention therapy.

This therapy (also known as exposure and ritual prevention) involves gradually learning to tolerate the impulse or situation you fear (exposure) without allowing the ritual behaviour to manifest itself and control you (ritual/response prevention). As an example for someone who is obsessed with cleanliness, they may get asked to go to a public toilet and touch the door handle and then prevented from washing their hands. Instead of getting anxious the therapist would help you develop techniques to control the anxiety.

Although this OCD therapy is highly effective it can be difficult for the sufferer. It requires them to confront their disorder and to be highly motivated and have lots of willpower.

 

Medicines

Your doctor may decide to give you medication as an OCD treatment. These drugs known as selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRI’s) work by reducing your anxiety levels and are also used to deal with depression.

With SSRI’s it can take 2-3 months before you start seeing any tangible results. In addition you will need to take the medication for at least a year.

 

Psychosurgery (Hospitalisation)

For those that do not respond to self help, CBT, medication or support groups as a very last resort you may get referred to undergo psychosurgery. For these people a recent study has shown around 30% of patients benefited greatly from this treatment for OCD.

Although OCD can be a frustrating and frankly annoying disorder for many people with the aid of at least one of the OCD treatment programs highlighted above it can be fought helping you to start leading a normal life.


Treatment For Phobias

With so many people suffering from some kind of phobia it’s reassuring to know there are various treatment for phobias around. A phobia itself can be classified as a deep and ongoing fear of activities, animals, people or certain situations. Phobias such as fear of spiders, fear of flying, fear of heights etc are incredibly common in todays society. It’s been estimated that approximately 1 person in 23 suffers from some kind of phobia. This makes roughly 11.5 million sufferers in the US whilst in the UK there are approximately 2.5 million. For the majority of people these fears can be dealt with and are minor. However, for some the fear is so extreme that they end up causing severe anxiety and negatively impact on their daily routine and life.

There are three main types of phobias. These phobias are considered as sub-types of anxiety disorder.

Specific phobias

As the title suggests these are phobias that are very specific. For example a fear of animals, physical things (such as injections, blood or hurting oneself), the natural world (for example bad weather, heights) and specific situations (e.g. aeroplanes, confined spaces etc).

Agoraphobia

This is a general fear of leaving home, being away from ones family and your “safety zone” and any panic attacks that may ensue as a result. It can also occur as a result of specific phobias such as social embarrassment (social agoraphobia), fear of contamination or fear of open spaces as a result of a traumatic event that occurred away from ones comfort zone.

Social phobia

This is when an individual has a deep fear of social situations such as meeting new people. People who suffer from this phobia tend not to be confident in the presence of people they haven’t met before or don’t know well. They will also assume that these people will think negatively of them. In addition to this they may be scared of how they will react in such circumstances i.e. they will be unable to speak or stutter or will tremble. Around 5% of people will have some form of this phobia.

In terms of treatment for phobias there are a few options available to sufferers:

Talking treatments (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy)

This is often a very effective phobia treatment. This is also one of the great treatments for anxiety and is discussed in length there.

Desensitization

This is a type of Cognitive behavioural Therapy which is the most frequently used treatment for phobia mainly due to it’s success rate. It’s said that between 75% – 90% of all sufferers are able to overcome phobias as a result of treatment.

This treatment is also known as exposure therapy and it entails gradual “exposure” to the cause of the phobia. First it is confronted mentally and as ones confidence grows, in reality. Once you repeatedly confront your phobia, becoming gradually confident makes you realise that it cannot really harm you and allows you to take control and not the other way around.

Medication

Due to the high success rate of desensitisation, medication is not normally recommended as a treatment for phobias. Where it is prescribed it will be as a result of the effects of phobias such as anxiety disorders or depression.

Agoraphobia will sometimes be treated through antidepressants particularly if you are suffering panic attacks as well. They can also be given for sufferers of social phobia.

Although phobia sufferers may feel that their symptoms are so extreme as to be untreatable there are highly effective cures available. Talking treatments and desensitization show that you can start living a normal life by making the move to get treatment for phobias.

 

 


Overcoming Panic Attacks

It’s been said that as much as 15% of the American public will suffer from some kind of panic assault at some stage of their lives so if you are one of those sufferers how do you go about overcoming panic attacks? Individuals suffering from panic disorder find themselves avoiding particular locations or situations that frighten them for no apparent reason. Added to this may be the fact that as these events are so frightening and dangerous they could lead to other severe conditions for instance depression, alcoholism, drug intake and phobias. Despite this, you can truly stop panic anxiety attacks in less than five minutes if you implement the free advice and tips we provide.

Before we delve into the steps in overcoming panic attacks let’s analyse the symptoms.

Firstly, a panic attack will commence with a rush of adrenaline into your blood stream. This then sends a signal to your brain informing it that there is an emergency! These signals will then manifest themselves into physical symptoms resembling a heart attack – sweating, numbness, breathlessness, palpitations, chest pain, nausea and stomach cramps. However, it is the fear of these symptoms that truly causes a sense of panic and loss of control.

Then how do you stop panic attacks in under 5 minutes? We list the 5 fundamental steps:

1) Call a buddy. They say a friend in need is a friend indeed. Nowadays we all have cell phones so use yours to call a calm, reassuring friend as soon as panic strikes. What this does is provide you with instant support and to take your mind off things and help you reassert control. A good friend will always know what makes you tick and what to say to calm you down.

2) Probably the hardest part is then trying to force oneself to relax. Your body is giving you all kinds of bad messages but you need to look at and calm yourself down. Simply be aware that you happen to be having a panic attack and no real harm will come to you should you fight these feelings. Take slow deep breaths. Think about something or someone that calms you down or makes you feel great about oneself. This really is your primary step to overcoming panic attacks.

3) Your next step is usually to try and manage all of the adverse emotions swirling around your head. Just attempt this. Shout “STOP” inside your head. Turn up the volume of that one word in your head. This will help to curtail the flow of adrenaline inside your body and along with the deep breaths help you control the negative thoughts and feelings.

4) Once you have shouted STOP inside your head, you need to reverse the cycle. This is the point where you start sending positive messages to your brain. Clear your mind of all of the negative thoughts and replace them with favourable messages. Instead of “My heart is pumping so fast I’m going to die!” say to your self, “Stay calm, it’s just a minor panic attack and it’ll be over in minutes. My heart will definitely make it through this.”

5) Your final step to overcoming panic attacks is to accept your feelings as well as the results inside your head. Identify what triggers it. Many people don’t want to think about it but when you confront it and reinforce the positive messages to oneself you can support to overcome anxiety.

What you also need to realise is that fear is a natural emotion and that everybody feels it to varying extents. When the feeling of being scared arrives, it is completely natural to take precautions and also to look after ones wellbeing. By remaining positive and getting into a habit of reinforcing the 5 strategies (it may be tough the first time around but persistence will pay off) you’ll gradually find it acts as a great free treatment in overcoming panic attacks.

 


Panic Attack Symptoms

Panic disorder symptoms vary from person to person although there are a few symptoms that will be common to the majority of sufferers. A panic attack is something that has been described as an incredibly strong feeling of fear or impending doom that strikes without warning. These feelings occur randomly and have even been known to occur at night whilst sleeping.
 

American Psychological Association studies show that symptoms of panic disorder will frequently last thirty minutes although on rare occasions an anxiety attack could be over within fifteen seconds. Those suffering from a panic disorder frequently experience physical feelings of an impending heart attack and that they are about to die. Of course to most people this seems like an over-reaction as their feelings aren’t in proportion to the actual severity of what is happening but to sufferers they cannot help how they feel and react.

The panic disorder symptoms are many and varied but they will typically consist of four (or more) of the following signs/actions:

  • Fear of dying
  • Fear of loss of control or of going crazy
  • Profuse sweating
  • Shaking/trembling
  • Highly accelerated heart rate
  • Shortness of breath/suffocation
  • Nausea or stomach pains
  • Dizziness
  • Diarrhoea
  • Dry mouth
  • Tightness or pain in the chest
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands and feet
  • Hot flashes or chills
  • Feeling the need to escape
  • Sense of confusion
  • Blank mind
  • Feeling as though time is going by incredibly slowly

The symptoms of a panic attack aren’t very nice and they are frequently joined by feelings of panic and terror. This will sometimes lead to a vicious circle where people start becoming scared of their next panic attack and then start living in fear. As panic attacks can attack randomly the sufferer will instantly become agitated and start thinking and acting negatively. It’s very important for those suffering from panic disorder to condition themselves to realise that the symptoms they are suffering will not cause them any harm and they will not have a heart attack for example even if they feel one is coming on.

(The highly effective Linden Method seems to work for many sufferers)

Studies have shown that men and women may experience different panic attack symptoms. Women tend to suffer more with breathing difficulties. If you notice any of the symptoms listed above in your friends or loved ones it’s important you seek professional medical diagnosis. There really is no such thing as a wasted trip to the doctors if someone is suffering with panic attack symptoms. It’s much better that someone gets treated for thinking they are about to have a heart attack as they really could be. Also on occasions when panic attacks occur with other issues such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or depression they can lead to disastrous actions such as harming oneself or even suicide. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Your doctor can refer you to treatments for anxiety which can greatly benefit you in overcoming panic attacks. Dealing with panic disorder symptoms is merely a question of adjusting your mindset so that you can start living your life instead of living in fear.

 


Treatments For Anxiety

Chances are if you are reading this article you are looking for treatments for anxiety whether it is for yourself or someone close to you. The fact that you are looking for information and therapy options available for overcoming panic attacks or severe anxiety is a good first step in helping to resolve the issue.

Severe anxiety disorders and social anxiety affect us all at some point in our lives. It’s only natural in this increasingly hectic lifestyle we live nowadays that we feel some of the symptoms of anxiety. Being worried when confronting a situation such as public speaking, exams or a job interview is a common worry for people. However, it’s when you get to the point that anxiety starts ruling your life (and your ability to sleep and function properly) that you should acknowledge you have an illness.

Let’s first take a brief look at what causes anxiety attacks. Put simply there is no single cause of anxiety but there are a few factors that contribute to an individual developing anxiety. The potential causes of anxiety can be categorised as brain chemistry, environmental factors, medical factors, drug abuse and heredity. Usually one of these factors will be to blame although it’s not uncommon for sufferers to make themselves anxious by continual negativity i.e. the habit of always thinking the worst is going to happen.

Now that we’ve seen the causes now we’ll look at the panic disorder symptoms most commonly displayed by sufferers:

  • Shaking
  • Unsettled stomach
  • Feeling sick
  • Diarrhoea
  • Migraines
  • Backpain
  • Heart palpitations
  • Numbness or “pins and needles” in arms, hands or legs
  • Sweating/flushing
  • Easily tired
  • Being fidgety
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Easily irritated
  • Muscle tension
  • Frequent urination
  • Trouble falling or staying asleep
  • Being easily startled

In terms of treatments for anxiety this can be broken down into four categories:

Self-Help

Anxiety disorder symptoms can be improved by using relaxation techniques in addition to regular exercise. Becoming a member of support groups for fellow sufferers can also be a great source of support and helpful advice. The internet is awash with helpful resources and information on local support groups.

Counselling

This is where you sit down with a qualified counsellor who will assess your issues and fears and then help you work out an action plan to help you focus on what you would like to be able to do in life and how to go about achieving those goals

Counselling has been shown to be an effective treatment for phobias, panic disorder and generalized anxiety disorder particularly in the short-term.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

This is one of the best forms of psychotherapy treatments for anxiety disorder. It is also commonly referred to as “talking treatment”. With this particular therapy you will discuss your issues with a specially trained therapist (who could be a psychologist, psychotherapist, psychiatrist or a psychiatric nurse).

This type of therapy is focused on replacing your low self-esteem and negative thought with positive thoughts and actions. Changing the way you think will help change the way you behave and should make you calmer and help get rid of some of the symptoms of anxiety mentioned earlier. CBT is also a good remedy for children suffering from generalized anxiety.

CBT tends to work quicker than other kinds of psychotherapy and typically you will get around 16-20 hours of anxiety therapy. It requires an open-mind and some sufferers find it quite upsetting as you are confronting your fears which is never easy.

Medication

The usual treatments to cure anxiety are anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs. You may get prescribed anti-depressants even if you aren’t suffering from depression as some of them can help people with anxiety.

The four major classes of medication prescribed for anxiety disorders are:

SSRI’s
This generally works by improving your mood. Drugs such as sertraline, paroxetine, fluoxetine, citalopram and escitalopram usually produce fewer side-effects compared to antidepressants. Those suffering from OCD will typically require higher doses.

SNRI’s
Whereas SSRI’s only inhibit serotonin, SNRI’s will stop serotonin and norepinephrine getting absorbed into the brain. Effexor and Cymbalta are two of the kinds anxiety drugs you may get given.

Tricyclic Antidepressants
This stops serotonin, norepinephrine and to a lesser extent dopamine. TCA’s (amitriptyline, imipramine and nortriptyline) are effective anxiety treatments although they can cause side-effects such as constipation, blood pressure, urinary retention and blurry vision.

Benzodiazepines
This is usually used as a short-term treatment for anxiety. Benzodiazepines (alprazolam, lorazepam, diazepam and clonazepam) are very good for stimulating relaxation and the reduction of muscle tension. Long-term use can require increased doses to have the same effect so there is a danger of becoming reliant on the drug.

For anyone suffering from anxiety attacks at least one of the four treatments for anxiety (self-help, counselling, CBT or medication) should help you alleviate at least some of your problems.