Obsessive-compulsive behavior (OCD) can get worse when you feel powerless and alone, so it’s important to build a strong support system. The more connected you are to other people, the less vulnerable you’ll feel. Just talking about your worries and urges can make them seem less threatening.
Obsessions and compulsions can consume your life to the point of social isolation. In turn, social isolation can aggravate your OCD symptoms. It’s important to have a network of family and friends you can turn to for help and support. Involving others in your treatment can help guard against setbacks and keep you motivated.
You’re not alone in your struggle with OCD, and participating in a support group can be an effective reminder of that. OCD support groups enable you to both share your own experiences and learn from others who are facing the same problems. Making a connection with others who are impacted by OCD provides a sense of community, and lets you know you are not alone in this struggle. You can gain valuable insight, practical ideas, and education from experts and other OCD families in your area.
While support groups are not meant to be a substitute for individual therapy, they can serve as a great step in that direction, or as an important addition to therapy, or part of a relapse prevention plan. Peers can offer something different than a therapist, and this should not be underestimated. Meeting other people going through similar situations can be very healing and beneficial — it can make people feel less lonely and isolated, as well as more connected to and understood by others.
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At our practice in Delray Beach, we treat a lot of individuals with obsessive compulsive disorder. One of the alarming trends we see are OCD patients who have been on the wrong medications, sometimes for years. Many are prescribed medications like benzodiazepines early on to help with OCD-related anxiety. While these medications can be helpful short-term, long-term they can increase anxiety and have cognitive side-effects that make the overall OCD condition worse.
The same is true of therapy. A lot of OCD patients have tried therapy in the past, but were doing traditional talk therapy that may have reinforced their obsessions and compulsions by way of continually talking about them. For obsessive compulsive disorder, we typically recommend behavioral therapies like CBT and DBT. These therapies teach skills to interrupt obsessive thinking and the thought-to-action mental process.