OCD Therapist Chicago, IL

OCD Therapy Chicago

Searching for OCD therapists and therapy in Chicago? If so, you are not alone. While the numbers are somewhat scatted, the current estimates suggest somewhere north of 2.3% of the adult population in the U.S. (3.3 million) live with some form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Many of our Chicago clients seek out the guidance of our anxiety therapists with the hope of reducing symptoms. To keep in real, OCD is a disorder that is widely misunderstood and widely not discussed.

This brief article explore some of the major features of OCD and discuss options for wellness. It is our belief that when properly channeled, OCD can become a manageable condition. We’ll start off with some basic OCD Q and A first. We’ve tried to move away from as much clinical lingo as possible and speak right to the issues.

Let’s jump right in!

OCD Therapist Counseling Chicago

What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?

In a nutshell, OCD one of the six primary anxiety disorders that are identified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. There are two parts to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

1. Obsessive

If you have OCD, you likely struggle with persistent thoughts, ideas, impulses and/or images that seem to invade your conscious (aka intrusive thoughts). These thoughts can at times cause a great deal of distress, mostly manifested in the form of anxiety.  

2. Compulsive

In order to compensate for the obsessions, you may feel compelled to engage in a given behavior in order to bring about relief. Many times, the compensatory behaviors become ritualized.

Example:

Nick is a 35-year old office worker in Chicago’s Loop. Each morning before he leaves his apartment to catch the Red Line to work, he taps on his nose ten times. The act of tapping causes him to feel less anxious.

It usually takes Nick several minutes to accomplish this because each tap must be exactly the same as the previous one and with the same intensity.

The problem is that Nick realizes his behavior may be seen as awkward by others, particularly his fiancé who just moved in. She’s started to ask questions, which freaks Nick out.  

Key Features of OCD:

If you have OCD, like Nick appears to have, you generally experience the following:

1. Recurrent obsessions with compulsions

2. A recognition that the obsessions and compulsions are irrational and excessive.

3. The obsessions and compulsions interfere with your ability to live the life you want.

In addition to the above listed features, people with OCD usually have lived with this form of anxiety for as long as they can remember.

Did you know many famous people live with OCD? Check out our page featuring 7 celebrities with OCD that might surprise you!

OCD and Doubt

Out of all of the anxiety disorders, OCD reigns supreme as the king of doubt. When you have OCD, you obsess and worry over things minor and major with an overwhelming need to compensate by doing something to bring relief.

Symptoms of OCD usually intensify when you feel you are not in control (or losing control) of a given situation. An example of this might be taking a commercial flight from Chicago to Los Angeles.

An example can be found in this real life story of a person who had an OCD meltdown at 31,000 feet on a MD80 Aircraft.  

OCD and Intrusive Thoughts

As previously mentioned, intrusive thoughts are a very real part of living with OCD. There are three basic themes that we see as part of the OCD Spectrum.

These include:

  • Violent thoughts: Thoughts about violence against yourself or others. These are sometimes referred to as Harming Thoughts.
  • Sexual Thoughts: Uncomfortable thoughts about sexual acts with others that feel inappropriate and are not fantasy based.
  • Anti-Spiritual Thoughts: Harm against a higher power (i.e. God) or someone you may deem to have spiritual significance.

4 OCD Dimensions

four aspects of obsessive compulsive disorder

Four Patterns of OCD with Examples:

If you have OCD, you likely live with one of four common patterns as part of the dynamic. Let’s take a look at them. Included are real life quotes from clients to represent each pattern.

1. Obsessions focused on contamination

If you are constantly washing your hands because you fear being contaminated by germs are part of this pattern. Some people with severe cases of OCD will avoid places where people gather because they fear they will “catch” something.

“I constantly carry around liquid hand disinfectant and refuse to shake hands with anyone. If I go to the supermarket, it is usually very late at night when the store is mostly empty. That way I don’t have to breathe in other people’s germs”

Darla (43) from Uptown

2. Obsessive Doubting

People with this manifestation of OCD engage in time consuming and often ritualized “checking” behaviors because they fear something terrible might happen. Fear in fact is a predominant marker under this area.

“I need to check that I have turned off the stove before I go to bed at night because I’m afraid I will accidentally kill my family from gas.

There are sometimes I have checked 20 times in one hour. I’ve done it so much over the years that now I’m starting to worry I’ve somehow broken oven’s off switch”

Beth (52) from Jefferson Park

People with this manifestation of OCD engage in time consuming and often ritualized “checking” behaviors because they fear something terrible might happen. Fear in fact is a predominant marker under this area.

“I need to check that I have turned off the stove before I go to bed at night because I’m afraid I will accidentally kill my family from gas. There are sometimes I have checked 20 times in one hour. I’ve done it so much over the years that now I’m starting to worry I’ve somehow broken oven’s off switch”

Beth (52) from Jefferson Park

3. Obsessive Thoughts without Major Compulsions

As previously discussed, people with OCD have obsessive thoughts. Usually, there are compulsions that accompany the thoughts however, a small number of people do not engage in compensatory behaviors.

Instead, they are plagued with horrifying intrusive thoughts that take on a harming or sexual nature (see above point on OCD and intrusive thoughts).

“I know it is wrong but sometimes from out of the blue, I will start to think about doing the nasty with a saint.

I’m an old school South Sider that grew up Catholic and I know what I am thinking sometimes is a sin – but I just can’t help myself!”

Kevin (59) from Bridgeport

4. Powerful Need for Symmetry and Precision

This dimension of OCD manifests itself through the need to be absolutely prefect with a given task or activity. An example of this might be an overwhelming need to make sure all of the shirts in your closet are perfectly aligned and color coordinated.

Another example might be a compulsion to make sure all of your shoes are perfectly aligned, going from light to dark.

“It takes me forever to leave my house for the day. I can’t leave until I make sure my sock drawer is perfect. All of the socks have to be aligned just right – and according to color and fabric. It’s so embarrassing.”

Doug (41) Lincoln Square

OCD Therapy Chicago

Therapy and Counseling for OCD

While OCD is a difficult anxiety issue, it is also one that can be managed. If you are thinking of starting counseling to help you better manage your own anxiety challenges, you are making the right choice.

Generally speaking, our counselors use the following approaches to help people with OCD. FYI: Many of these are combined as a way of arriving at the best possible outcome.

Our approach to OCD is strength based and client focused. We believe that OCD can be channeled in different ways that can have positive outcomes. Part of this requires helping clients change their personal tape, which can directly impact their behaviors.

To learn more about how we may be able to help you with your anxiety related life challenges, including OCD, please give us a call at 773.528.1777 or send us a confidential note using this secure form.