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OCD, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, is generally a two-part mental disorder involving intrusive thoughts and compulsions. OCD begins with intrusive thoughts. Intrusive thoughts are the “obsession” piece of OCD, and can lead one to feel fear, disgust, anxiety, guilt or other distressing emotions.

In order to relieve oneself from these distressing feelings, individuals sometimes develop “compulsions.” Compulsions are a part of OCD, which are defined as physical activities or cognitive behaviors that are performed most often in a ritualistic, routine way, in order to relieve oneself from the distressing feelings brought on by the obsessions.

Intrusive thoughts or “obsessions” are not desired by an individual but they are incapable of controlling them. Therefore, patients end up in a looping pattern, performing their compelling behavior over and over again due to repetitive uncontrollable thoughts.

The exact cause of OCD is not known. Individuals may experience OCD due to their own personal stress levels, emotional traumas, genetics or brain structure. 

Effective OCD treatments include Cognitive Behavior Therapy and prescribed medication. Cognitive Behavior Therapy can help people challenge their thinking and break the cycle of distorted thoughts and compulsive behaviors. ERT, Exposure Response Therapy is a type of CBT that can be effective for many patients. ERT helps a patient tolerate the anxiety caused by the obsession. With ERT, patients go through the process of facing their obsession, but not acting out their compulsions. Over time, this may lead to less anxiety about the obsession and more self-control over their compulsions.

When ERT and medications don’t work well enough, TMS can be a supplemental treatment. TMS is an FDA cleared adjunct therapy for OCD which means it can be combined with other types of therapy to enhance its outcome.

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