Co-occurring mental health disorders are common among people living with eating disorders like Anorexia, Bulimia, or Binge-Eating Disorder. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is one of the more common co-occurring disorders, affecting 15 to 18 percent of those diagnosed with an eating disorder. People experiencing both an eating disorder and OCD may develop compulsive rituals connected to food, eating, and body image. These compulsions can cause a great amount of distress, but feel even more distressing when interrupted or diverged from.
If this sounds familiar, or you suspect someone you love may be experiencing disordered eating rooted in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, help is available. Call Eating Disorder Solutions now for information about how we can help.
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What is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?
OCD is a relatively common chronic mental health disorder characterized by repeated, uncontrollable thoughts (obsessions) and rituals or behaviors (compulsions) that are difficult to stop or dissauge. Typically, people living with OCD are compelled to enact these compulsive behaviors to alleviate the anxiety or dread caused by intrusive, obsessive thoughts. These thoughts and behaviors feel impossible to control and can negatively impact your life, interfering with working, social interactions, or enjoying recreational activities.
Signs and Symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
People with OCD may experience recurring obsessions, compulsions, or both. Obsessions are repeated thoughts, urges, or mental images that cause anxiety. Common obsessions can include:
- Fear of germs or being contaminated
- Intrusive thoughts around sexual assault
- Aggressive thoughts towards yourself or others
- Fear of impending doom or catastrophic accidents
- Fear of causing unintentional harm or injury to others
Compulsions are repetitive behaviors or rituals that a person with OCD feels an uncontrollable urge to do in response to an obsessive thought. Compulsions are meant to stop obsessive thoughts or alleviate anxiety. Common compulsions can include:
- Excessive grooming such as handwashing, skin checking, tooth brushing, etc.
- Fixation on symmetry or keeping objects in a specific space or order
- Repeatedly checking for things such as whether a door is locked or whether the oven is off
- Behavioral rituals fixated on a specific number of repetitions (circling the block three times before you can park)
- Harmful self-soothing habits such as hair pulling, skin picking, or nail biting
While it is common to double-check things sometimes, a person with OCD cannot control these thoughts or behaviors. They may spend hours each day dealing with obsessive thoughts or compulsive behaviors. While performing compulsive rituals can bring brief relief from anxiety, OCD can lead to significant problems at work, school, or within personal relationships.
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Benefits of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Treatment
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder can feel overwhelming and inescapable, but with proper treatment it can be overcome. OCD is typically treated with medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of both. Medications like serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs), have been shown to help significantly reduce OCD symptoms. Psychotherapy, including Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is also especially helpful for learning to manage OCD. A type of CBT called exposure and response prevention (Ex/RP) involves spending time in an environment or situation that triggers compulsions and then inhibiting the performance of the usual compulsive behavior. About 7 out of 10 people with OCD will benefit from either medication or Ex/RP therapy. So, while OCD cannot be cured, getting effective, consistent treatment can help bring symptoms under control and help you enjoy a better quality of life.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Treatment Process
The treatment process starts with making the right diagnosis. This can include having a psychological evaluation with a qualified psychiatrist who reviews your obsessive-compulsive symptoms, behavior patterns, and how they may impact your day-to-day life. Your doctor may also conduct a physical exam to rule out any other causes or related complications. In some cases, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is uncovered as a contributing factor to disordered eating behaviors during the course of care for a condition such as anorexia or bulimia. In this case, obsessive-compulsive thoughts may revolve around poor self-image or food fears. This includes:
- Believing eating more than a set number of calories will cause serious damage to your health
- Obsessing over keeping caloric intake under a certain number
- Ritualistic exercise regimens and distress if you are unable to stick to the routine
- Number fixation and eating habits (obsession with measuring out food quantities or chewing a certain number of times)
- Extreme cleaning habits after a purging session to hide any evidence
Your doctor will discuss an OCD treatment plan with you that may include medication and/or psychotherapy. When choosing a medication, it is not uncommon to try a few different formulations before finding one that works well. Regular check-ins are important to track the impact of the treatment and to discuss and address any negative side effects.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Treatment at Eating Disorder Solutions
Eating Disorder Solutions provides treatment for eating disorders and co-occurring disorders like OCD for adults age 18 years and older in Dallas, TX. Treating both conditions simultaneously creates a more holistic approach to treatment that sets us apart from our competitors. We design highly individualized treatment programs that address all physical and psychological symptoms for the best chance of recovery.
In our residential, partial hospitalization, or intensive outpatient programs, you will have access to a multidisciplinary team that collaborates closely to address eating disorders and OCD, for the most well-rounded treatment possible. We are proud to offer a full continuum of care that acknowledges the entire mind, body, soul, and spirit.
The Impact of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder if Left Untreated
OCD disorder is the most common anxiety disorder to co-occurs with an eating disorder. Both behavioral health conditions often reinforce each other. What may start as a coping mechanism can turn into a set of intertwined issues that are difficult to separate.
Treatment for an eating disorder can only succeed if all co-occurring disorders, like OCD are identified and treated from the start. If OCD is left undiagnosed and untreated, you may start to recover from the eating disorder, but the OCD can grow more prominently. This often leads to a relapse in the eating disorder and a setback in the recovery process.
When left untreated, OCD can also result in self-harm or suicidal tendencies in very serious cases, which is why it is so important to diagnose and treat these conditions together.
Get Help Treating OCD Today
To minimize risk and help ensure recovery, you should seek treatment for OCD as soon as possible. At Eating Disorder Solutions, we understand the full spectrum of eating disorders and associated co-occurring disorders like OCD. We are proud to offer inclusive, individualized OCD treatment in Dallas in a safe environment to help individuals reclaim control of their lives and future. Our caring and compassionate staff will address each client’s unique needs throughout the process. Contact our team for a free consultation to start your journey to recovery and learn more about our treatment programs.