Online Therapy for OCD – Types, Causes & Treatment

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online therapy for OCD

Surveys revealed that one in forty people currently suffer from OCD, and the number is increasing every year. Today, it’s even estimated that one in a hundred kids have OCD. OCD is spreading very rapidly than ever before.

If someone is suffering from an anxiety disorder like OCD. In that case, these feelings don’t go away and often develop into symptoms that, if untreated, can interfere with job performance, relationships, schoolwork, and even basic functioning.

Fortunately, an OCD diagnosis does not have to limit someone’s potential. Many people start to live everyday lives after seeking treatment and successfully managing their OCD. So, you don’t need to worry if you or your loved one has been diagnosed with OCD. There is hope.

In this article, we will explore what exactly OCD is. It’s symptoms and causes and online therapy for OCD.

What is OCD?

OCD is short for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, is a mental disorder that involves unwanted intrusive thoughts followed by feelings of uncertainty, anxiety, and even occasional panic. The condition causes the individual to get stuck in a cycle of compulsion and obsession that impacts how they think and behave.

It is not just an occasional obsessive thought or behavior. People suffering from OCD usually struggle with compulsion and obsession, or both daily. If unaddressed on time, these can affect many aspects of someone’s personal and professional life.

What are the 4 R’s of OCD?

The “4 R’s” is a simple acronym used to describe the basic principles of Exposure and Response Prevention therapy (ERP), a highly effective therapy for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD):

  1. Resist: In ERP, individuals are taught to resist the urge to engage in their compulsive behaviors (the “Response” in ERP) when confronted with their obsessive fears.
  2. Respond Differently: Instead of acting on the compulsion, individuals learn to respond differently by facing the source of their anxiety and discomfort without giving in to the rituals or avoidance behaviors.
  3. Repeat: Repeating exposure exercises gradually and systematically, helps to desensitize individuals to their obsessions over time. Repetition is a key element of ERP.
  4. Real Life: ERP focuses on conducting exposures in real-life situations, where OCD symptoms typically manifest, to ensure that individuals can apply the skills they’ve learned to their daily lives effectively.

These 4 R’s form the core of ERP, facilitating individuals in breaking the cycle of obsessions and compulsions that characterizes OCD.

Explore the Four Types of OCD

OCD is broken up into four categories, with patients having one or more of these common conditions. The four types of OCD accepted by mental health professionals are:

  1. Washing

Washing and the general fear of contamination and germs are common OCD traits. A person dealing with this type of OCD will constantly feel that they have touched something covered in germs and feel the need to wash it over and over. Most often, it led to skin problems from too much washing.

2. Checking

The OCD trait of checking causes a patient to feel the need to make sure that doors are closed, things are turned off, unplugged, etc. Someone suffering from this may have to re-check something that they just checked only minutes ago. The patient may have to check the same thing repeatedly without finding any relief from the feeling that is causing the checking behaviour.

3. Symmetry

Symmetry is another common trait of OCD that causes a person to feel the need for objects to be kept and placed in a specific (very organized) manner. Things must be kept in a way that faces specific compass directions, straight lines, and many other rules. If things are not in proper order, the sufferer will feel the compulsive need to put them back in order or the “right” way.

4. Thoughts of accidental harm

It is another common symptom of OCD when a patient suffers from repetitive thoughts of accidental harm to others or even themselves. Most often, people who suffer from this will have to stop the car after every few minutes and get out to check and make sure that they didn’t run anyone over.

Causes of OCD

While some mental health professionals think that causes of OCD isn’t fully understood, others disagree and claim that certain events in early childhood or adulthood could be responsible for a person’s OCD.

There a lot of theories on what may cause OCD. Some of the common ones are a combination of some or all of the following:

  • Neurological Factors
  • Genetic Factors
  • Cognitive-behavioral Factors
  • Environmental Factors

It is believed that compulsions are generally learned behaviors. And they can become repetitive if they become associated with relief from the anxiety and the negative feelings

Most likely, the combination of the factors mentioned above is the root cause of OCD. However, some people have a firm belief that parents can’t cause OCD in their Kids due to some flaw in their upbringing. You can’t cause OCD in your kid by only talking to them in the wrong way or incorrectly disciplining them. But stress could make OCD symptoms worse in a child who is already predisposed to the condition.

Common treatment options for OCD

Anyone with OCD who is considered above a mild level should seriously think of some types of treatment for their OCD. People with above mild OCD may even see temporary improvements in their symptoms, but they often worsen over time.

Today, there are more options for OCD help online, making online treatment, available to more people than ever before

The most common treatments for OCD are antidepressants, medications, and CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy). It is worth remembering that medications alone are very rarely known to stop your OCD symptoms.

Professionals consider CBT and talk therapy sessions as the best line of treatment for clearing up a patient’s OCD symptoms altogether.

Today, a wide range of modern online therapy companies and platforms offer OCD treatment online, conducted by experienced therapists.

Why is Online therapy better than Face to Face therapy?

Online OCD therapy is becoming known for being very effective treatment, much more affordable, and more convenient family therapy for many people.

Here are few main advantages of online group therapy: for OCD:

  • Availability – online therapy offers far more flexibility. You won’t need to schedule a meeting with your therapist well ahead of time. It allows you to talk to your therapist at any time.
  • Access to licensed professionals – your therapist is always an authentic, licensed professional. You can get the same level of professional therapy from the comfort of your home.
  • Less expensive – online therapy is less costly than other traditional counseling. Online therapy platforms tend only to charge a fraction of what traditional therapists charge.
  • Confidentiality – not only is online counseling confidential; it’s nearly anonymous. Therapists never need to see you face to face. And if you don’t like your therapist, you can quickly and anonymously switch to another therapist with no awkwardness.

Is online therapy effective for OCD?

Online therapy can be effective for treating Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Research has shown that cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which is a common approach for OCD, can be delivered effectively through teletherapy platforms. Therapists can still provide exposure and response prevention (ERP) exercises, a key component of OCD treatment, via video conferencing.

However, the effectiveness of online therapy may vary depending on individual therapy preferences and the severity of the mental health condition itself. Some individuals may benefit from in-person therapy due to the hands-on nature of ERP, but online therapy remains a viable option, especially for those who prefer the convenience and accessibility it offers.

Affordable Self-Help Resources for OCD Support

  1. Online Programs & Apps: When therapy isn’t an immediate option, either due to financial constraints or appointment delays, online programs and apps offer valuable assistance. Many of these resources focus on symptom management and incorporate Cognitive Behavioral Therapy elements. The OCD Challenge is a free online program designed to help manage OCD symptoms. You can find a list of OCD management apps on the IOCDF website.
  2. Self-Help Books: Self-help books provide a valuable alternative while awaiting professional treatment or when access to such treatment is limited. You can explore a selection of self-help titles related to OCD and similar disorders on our book list.
  3. Hotlines: In moments of crisis or immediate need, hotlines offer essential support and guidance. Sometimes, you require instant assistance, and hotlines are a lifeline in such situations. The National Alliance on Mental Illness operates a support hotline during weekdays and responds to crisis texts as well.
  4. Support Groups: Support groups, whether professionally or peer-led, provide a deeper level of understanding and connection. These groups are invaluable for making connections within the OCD community. All support groups listed in the IOCDF Resource Directory are free or request a small donation to sustain their operation.
  5. Online Communities: Online communities are an increasingly popular way to connect with fellow OCD sufferers. Like support groups, most online OCD communities are free to join and provide a platform for sharing experiences and support.

What is the best therapy for OCD?

The most widely recommended therapy for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), specifically a form of CBT called Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). ERP involves gradually exposing individuals to their obsessive fears while preventing the associated compulsive behaviors. This process helps patients confront their anxieties and learn to tolerate the discomfort without performing the compulsions.

ERP has shown significant success in reducing OCD symptoms and is considered the gold standard treatment. In some cases, medication, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), may be prescribed in combination with ERP for more severe cases of OCD. The best approach often depends on individual needs and the advice of a qualified mental health professional.

Who is online OCD therapy right for?

Online OCD therapy can be suitable for various individuals. It is particularly appropriate for those who prefer or require online therapy services for the convenience and accessibility of remote therapy. It may benefit individuals who have mild to moderate OCD symptoms and are motivated to engage in treatment. Online therapy is also an option for those living in areas with limited access to in-person specialists. However, for severe cases or individuals who require a more hands-on, in-person approach, traditional face-to-face therapy might be more effective. Ultimately, the appropriateness of online OCD therapy depends on the individual’s needs, preferences, and the guidance of a mental health care professional.

Final Thoughts

Today, you have so many options for professional online therapy platforms. But whether you choose Online Therapy, Talkspace, Betterhelp, or some other online counseling platform, remember that it takes time for any type of therapy or program to be effective with OCD. You will have to stick with your online therapy. It’s a commitment therapy, not an overnight cure.

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