Obsessive-Compulsive disorder is a chronic illness that can be treated effectively with therapy. Many people will experience periods of remission and in some cases loss of symptoms altogether. However, it would be misleading to label treatment of OCD as a cure.
As mentioned in my blog ‘The Ebb and Flow of OCD Symptoms’, there is often waxing and waning in intensity of obsessions and compulsions. Often, individuals can begin to recognize a pattern when symptoms may arise and increase. These symptoms can be managed by receiving the best treatment for OCD with Exposure Response Prevention (ERP) Therapy. Familiar patterns of OCD can be learned and recognized through mindfulness and experience with the illness. In combining therapy, practice, and understanding how and when symptoms affect an individual’s life, individuals may begin to believe OCD can no longer have an impact on their lives. It is important to distinguish that OCD has become manageable, not because it has been cured.
It is important to understand that OCD is not a curable disorder because relapse can happen to anyone who has experienced OCD and remission. When an individual learns to manage OCD through ERP, it is a conditioned choice the individual has made in response to the irrational obsession. While the original obsession(s) may become obsolete, the opportunity to latch onto another obsession with an OCD response is possible. Believing one is ‘cured’ from OCD may cause the individual to be less vigilant when their brain responds to an irrational fear. Engaging in the OCD cycle even once could trigger a relapse. Relapse is devastating for anyone, but can add an extra layer of hopelessness to someone who believed they were ‘cured’ from OCD.
When people are seeking treatment and they find out there is no ‘cure’ for OCD, it can deter them from engaging in therapy and cause them to feel hopelessness. It is important to understand that although ERP therapy does not ‘cure’ OCD, it can absolutely help an individual manage their debilitating symptoms and gain their life back. While it may be disappointing to find out you will not be cured from OCD, it is exciting to know you have the strength within yourself to condition your brain to function in a capacity that can bring you relief instead of torment from OCD.
It is important to find the right therapist when seeking treatment for OCD. If the therapist treating you is not doing CBT/ERP therapy, you are wasting time and money and your symptoms may worsen. For referrals to therapists and resources in your area, please go to www.treatmentforocd.com and click on the contact form for a consultation with Chrissie Hodges. She will be able to point you on the right path to recovery for OCD.