Obsessive-compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a common, treatable mental health issue that affects millions of people worldwide.

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The OCD & Anxiety Center of Greater Baltimore

Obsessive-compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a common, treatable mental health issue that affects millions of people worldwide. It is characterized by obsessions, which are repeated, unwanted, intrusive thoughts, and compulsions, which are behaviors aimed at reducing the discomfort associated with these thoughts. Compulsions (a.k.a. rituals) can be physical, such as washing or cleaning, or they can be mental or covert, such as excessive analysis, reassurance seeking, or thought-neutralizing strategies.

A disorder is not a character flaw or personality defect. A disorder is simply something that is out of order. We all have unwanted thoughts from time to time and we all have rituals that save us time and energy. When this “normal” experience of coping with unwanted thoughts and rituals begins to impair functioning, causes severe anxiety, takes up significant time, and steals the enjoyment from work, leisure, and relationships, then we call it a dis-order. Fortunately this disorder is well understood and research over the years has provided us with safe and effective evidenced-based therapies that can help develop mastery over OCD.

Common OCD-Related Concerns That We Treat:

Contamination OCD

Common obsessions: fear of germs, bodily fluids, chemicals, or other “contaminants”

Common compulsions: excessive washing, cleaning, reassurance-seeking and avoiding

Hyper-Responsibility OCD

Common obsessions: fear of making a mistake, causing a tragedy
Common compulsions: excessive checking of light switches, stove, appliances

Just Right OCD

Common obsessions: fear of not being able to tolerate specific feelings without certain conditions
Common compulsions: repeating routine behaviors, arranging/ordering, checking/repeating writing and reading, homework, or work tasks

Hypochondria / Health Anxiety OCD

Common obsessions: fear of having or catching illnesses

Common compulsions: checking body for symptoms, excessive googling/researching symptoms, excessive reassurance seeking or avoidance of medical professionals/procedures

Harm OCD

Common obsessions: fear of committing violence against self or others, fear of “snapping” and causing harm, intrusive violent thoughts

Common compulsions: avoidance of triggering media, mental review/checking of violent thoughts, reassurance, avoidance of triggering environments

Sexual Orientation OCD

Common obsessions: fear of changing sexual orientation or of being in denial of sexual orientation, intrusive sexual thoughts related to orientation

Common compulsions: checking for arousal in triggering situations, avoidance of triggering situations, excessive mental review of sexual themes

Pedophile Obsessions

Common obsessions: fear of being sexually attracted to children or fear of being a sexual predator, intrusive thoughts about children

Common compulsions: checking for arousal in triggering situations, avoidance of triggering situations, excessive mental review of behavior around children

Relationship OCD

Common obsessions: fear of being in the wrong or imperfect relationship, fear of not being in love with partner or choosing the wrong partner

Common compulsions: checking for “love feelings”, avoiding triggering situations, excessive mental review of qualities of relationship

Religious Scrupulosity OCD

Common obsessions: fear of religious blasphemy, sin, or of exercising faith inadequately, unwanted intrusive thoughts of a religious nature

Common compulsions: compulsive prayer, excessive review of religious concepts, avoidance of triggering situations, excessive performance of religious rituals

Moral Scrupulosity OCD

Common obsessions: fear of being morally imperfect, fear of being dishonest, fear of committing, having committed, or being accused of an immoral or disloyal act

Common compulsions: mental review of memories or perceived bad acts, excessive attention to issues of honesty or morality, reassurance-seeking about moral issues

Phobias

Common obsessions: focused fear of specific triggers, such as throwing up (emetophobia), small spaces (claustrophobia), open spaces (agoraphobia), specific animals or environments
Common compulsions: avoiding triggers directly or indirectly, various rituals designed to feel certain that triggers will not occur

Social Anxiety

Common obsessions: fear of being evaluated negatively by others, fear of public speaking, fear of being humiliated in public, fear of not being able to connect with others socially
Common compulsions: avoidance of social situations, mental review of social interactions, excessive comparison of self to others

Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Common obsessions: fear of being unattractive or of having a physical deformity
Common compulsions: excessive weighing, mirror checking, ritualized eating, checking of specific body parts

Panic Disorder

Common obsessions: presence of panic attacks and fear of having panic attacks
Common compulsions: avoiding situations that could trigger attacks, avoiding environments that do not have easy escapes

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Common obsessions: excessive and impairing fear/worry associated with everyday issues such as work, finance, relationships and responsibilities, fear of becoming anxious
Common compulsions: mental review, reassurance seeking, over-preparing, perfectionism, avoiding situations that may produce anxiety

Hyper-awareness/Sensorimotor OCD

Common obsessions: fear of not being able to stop attending to breathing, blinking, swallowing, thinking, or other semi-voluntary behaviors

Common compulsions: checking for awareness, excessive distracting, reassurance seeking about symptoms or about what is normal

How We Treat OCD and Anxiety:

Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP)

Exposure and Response Prevention

Gradually confronting fears while resisting compulsive responses.

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Cognitive
Therapy

Cognitive
Therapy

Identifying and challenging distorted thinking that leads to compulsions.

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Mindfulness
Skill
Development

Mindfulness
Skill Development

Paying attention to the present moment without judging thoughts, feelings, and sensations.

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Jon Hershfield, MFT

hershfield-80x90Director of The OCD and Anxiety Center of Greater Baltimore and specialist in the treatment of OCD and related disorders.
Learn more about Jon

Brenda Kijesky, LCMFT

Licensed Clinical Marriage and Family Therapist, treating children and adults with OCD and related disorders.
Learn more about Brenda

Molly Schiffer, LCPC

Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, treating children, adolescents, and adults with OCD and related disorders.
Learn more about Molly Schiffer

Recent Articles

Latest News/Upcoming Events

September 29th at World Congress of Psychiatry 2018 in Mexico City, Mexico

Jon Hershfield, MFT will be chairing a panel discussing how psychiatrists and other treatment providers can best collaborate with one another to maximize therapy benefits for OCD sufferers.

October 1st-Nov 7th (week 2) at The OCD Summit for Therapists: an online interview series with OCD specialists hosted by Stuart Ralph.

Jon Hershfield, MFT will be discussing Using Mindfulness to Enhance CBT and ERP for OCD on October 10th. Sign up for the 6-part series at https://theocdsummit.theocdstories.com/join/

October 15th-November 5th at Treating Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) with Mindfulness and CBT online CE course

Jon Hershfield, MFT will be teaching a 4-week, 8-hour course on CBT, ERP, mindfulness and more for clinicians interested in learning how to better help their clients with OCD.