Month: February 2015

Complications of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Millions of people are impacted by a health condition called obsessive compulsive disorder or OCD.  OCD is a very complicated and challenging mental illness that can present itself in a number of different ways.  The symptoms of OCD can begin in early childhood and will likely continue as you age.  It could be something that will plague you for the rest of your life if it is left untreated.  Even with proper treatment, it is possible that some of the complex symptoms will never subside.

Some of the complications that can arise as a result of living with OCD can include:

Substance Abuse

It is somewhat common for people with OCD to also have a problem with substance abuse.  Often, you or the person you love who has OCD will begin using drugs or alcohol as a way self-medicate and alleviate some of your OCD symptoms.  However, what starts out as self-medicating can quickly turn to substance abuse and addiction.  The two most common substances of abuse used by people with OCD are alcohol and benzodiazepines.  Benzodiazepines are meant to reduce the symptoms of anxiety.

Reduced Productivity

Getting things done while fighting OCD can be very difficult.  Low productivity can have an effect on all areas of your life particularly when it comes to work or school performance.  Much of your time is likely being spent on compulsive rituals or fighting with yourself over unwanted thoughts and urges.  It can be exhausting and, ultimately, you may not have enough time to get done all of the other things that you need to in a day.  The responsibilities of your everyday life can quickly take a backseat to your compulsions.

Work or School Difficulties

As mentioned above, OCD compulsions can be exhausting and time consuming.  And getting fired from a job is pretty easy if your employer thinks that you are not accomplishing all that you should be in a day.  The same is true for being a student.  Teachers will rarely believe that you did not do your homework because you had to turn on and off all of the light switches in your house 12 times each before you could do anything else.  Also, it is difficult to be productive at work or at school when your obsessive thoughts and the anxiety that go with them are impossible to put aside.

Physical Difficulties

Certain types of compulsive behaviors can cause physical difficulties.  This is especially true for people who have compulsions toward cleaning or washing behaviors.  Taking many showers in a day or constantly scrubbing your skin can lead to skin irritation, delayed healing, and excessive skin dryness.  It can also lead to skin disorders such as contact dermatitis from soap and other cleansers.  Some of these items can lead to permanent scarring.


Most people who suffer from OCD have experienced shame or humiliation in relation to their OCD.  The reactions of others can be harmful and degrading to anyone who has experienced snickering, whispers, or outright discrimination because of their obsessive and compulsive tendencies.  This shame can go straight to the heart of an OCD sufferer leading to feelings of despair and worthlessness.


The shameful feelings and distressing treatment that an OCD sufferer often experiences can lead to depression.  Living all day every day with such a challenging and exhausting condition can cause you to lose hope.  Life can be extremely difficult for people with OCD, and this makes them more inclined to be depressed.

The list of complications involved with OCD can look like it is impossible to overcome, but with the proper treatment, many of these complications can be relieved.  OCD treatment typically involves cognitive behavior therapy as it has proven to be one of the most effective methods of treatment available.  Cognitive behavior therapy is meant to make progress in changing maladaptive behaviors or irrational thoughts that are the basis for OCD compulsions and obsessions.  Medication is sometimes used in addition to therapy and has been very effective in some people.

It will take time and commitment for you or someone you love to be able to overcome OCD.  With proper treatment and hard work, it can be possible to handle the troubling compulsions and obsessions that are currently keeping you from the life that you would like that have and move on to the life you would like to live.

4 Common Obstacles to Making Therapy Work

When you are starting to contemplate therapy or when you are first getting started in therapy, it is important to be aware of some of the obstacles that can keep you from getting the most out of your therapy time.  Regardless of the reason that you are seeing a therapist, you are likely going because you want to get the most value from your time and the most help for the money you spend.  The last thing that you want from your time in therapy is more pain, disappointment, and frustration than you are experiencing in the rest of your life.  If you are aware of the things that could or are already tripping you up, you and your therapist can work on adjusting your course before it is too late.

There are four very common obstacles that can keep you from making the progress you want to be making with your therapy.

1. Unrealistic Expectations

Cultivating unrealistic expectations is one of the major reasons why so many people drop out of therapy too soon. When you start with therapy, you may think that one or two sessions is going to cure you or that your whole life with be completely different because you started to see a therapist.  But these things are just not so.  Therapy, like anything else, is a process.  In most cases, it can take a lot of time for you to see some of the far reaching changes that can happen because of therapy.  You may also expect that therapy will be easy and painless.  That is not true either.  Therapy can be difficult and painful as you look at yourself and look at those around you.  It can be rather like cleaning out a wound.  It is going to hurt, but you will ultimately feel better.

2. Mistrust of Your Therapist

If you make the decision not to trust your therapist, you are probably better off stopping right away. While trust is not built overnight, putting your trust and confidence in your therapist is one of the only ways that you are going to find what you seek through therapy.  If you do not trust your therapist, how are you going to feel safe enough to talk about the intimate details of your life?  How are you going to let down your guard and get to the real meat of your difficulties?  Your therapist may be able to help you walk through some of your trust issues, but you will have to own up to them first and this requires some trust unto itself.  Sometimes just getting past the issue of trust can be half the battle.

3. Venting Without Communicating

Venting is good for you sometimes. It feels good for a little while.  But using your whole therapy session as a means of simply venting, you are not going to be getting any real work done.  Venting all the time can simply keep you stuck right where you are, and where you are is what has led you to therapy in the first place.  Venting is essential now and again, but there needs to be a good balance between venting and working on the issues that are a little deeper.

4. Poor Attitude

While it is possible that you have gone to therapy because you want to be there, it is also possible that you are there because someone else wants you to be there. Your attitude about therapy is going to make a difference no matter the reason that you are there.  Some of the common difficult attitudes about therapy are that you do not need it or that it is a waste of time.  If you are just in therapy to please someone else but are not planning to take the process seriously, either change your attitude or get out.  For you, it would be a waste of time.  Being certain that you will not be revealing anything about yourself to your therapist or that you know yourself better than your therapist even could is also a bad attitude to have.  With this attitude, you are unlikely to get any real work done or have therapy be very successful for you.  You do not need to go in with super happy positive attitude, but you do need to feel that you are willing and ready to work on yourself.  You need to be open to the process.

7 Easy Techniques for Dealing with Anger and Stress

Managing anger is something that most inpatient and outpatient rehab clients are going to need help with.  Managing anger is something we could all use help with now and again.  Most commonly, anger is dealt with in two ways – repressively and aggressively.  Some people cannot deal with anger so they push it aside and ignore it, while others deal with it immediately many times with immediate disrespect or violence.  By offering trainings in anger management, inpatient and outpatient rehab clients are being equipped with the coping skills necessary to deal with anger in a healthy way.  Here are some of the techniques that are being learned by recovering addicts everywhere.

1. Take Deep Breaths

This may seem rather simple, but taking deep breaths lowers the heart rate and tells the body that it is calm and relaxed.  By taking slow and calculated deep breaths where you focus more on the exhale than the inhale, you are forcing your mind back to the logical from the emotional.  Counting during breathing can help you to stay focused.  First, try to make your exhales and inhales the same counts.  Then, try to make your exhales one count longer than your inhales.  Then try for two counts longer.  This technique is about focusing your energy on something other than your anger.

2. Walk Away

Teaching a client to take him or herself out of a stressful environment, may be the most helpful thing to teach.  If you remove yourself from a stressful situation by taking a short walk or simply leaving the room to get some air, you may return with a better understanding of how to approach a problem or how to address the situation.  Taking a walk can be a great lead into the next way of dealing with some of your anger and stress issues.

3. Get a Little Exercise

Exercise reduces stress and often helps people think. Exercise gives the rest of the body something to do while the mind focuses on dealing with the situation at hand.  Since endorphins released during exercise tend to make people happier, it might be easier to deal with an anger issue after exercise.  Getting some exercise is also great for your body.  There is nothing better you can do for your overall health than move around.

4. Count to 10

Again, this technique is rather simple, but it gives you a chance to think the situation through without reacting immediately and causing further damage.  Counting to ten and focusing on processing the situation may make the immediate anger dissipate and a more useful solution present itself.  Counting to 10 gives you a chance take a moment before you say something in anger or stress that you are going to regret.

5. Use “I” Statements

When you are ready to deal with a situation, use of “I” statements rather than “you” statements.  Using “I” statements such as “I feel…”, “I will…”, and “I am…” puts the focus of the conversation on how you are feeling and on the solution rather than making it feel accusatory.  Statements like “You are…” or “You did…” are placing blame and setting the situation up for failure.  Be respectful and specific.

6. Do Not Hold a Grudge

Forgiveness is a very powerful tool.  If you allow your anger and your stress to crowd out your positive feelings, you may find that eventually you end up feeling bitter and unhappy all the time.  Making an effort to forgive someone who has made you angry could be a lesson for both of you.  It is not realistic to believe that everyone is going to behave in ways that you think they should all the time.  So be the bigger person and recognize if the difficulty is something you can deal with internally.

7. Know When to Ask for Help

If you are trying some of these techniques on your own and you do not feel like you are getting very far, you may want to ask for some help.  Take your anger and stress issues to your therapist or your treatment team.  They may have some suggestions for you about what you can do to tame some of your biggest issues.

Depression in Senior Citizens

While many believe it to be true, depression is not a normal part of the aging process.  However, many older people begin to suffer from depression as they age.

  • The lessening of health and mobility
  • The possibility of forced retirement
  • The demands of caring for an aging spouse
  • The loss of a spouse and many others closest to you
  • Taking a back seat to the lives of your family members

Many of the events of older adulthood can put you at risk of depression, but when it is correctly diagnosed, it is highly treatable.

A Common Issues Being Overlooked

Senior depression is under diagnosed.  Many doctors can account for symptoms such as insomnia or fatigue as the normal signs of getting older.  Some seniors are reluctant to disclose all of their symptoms to their doctors for fear of looking weak or being forced into an assisted living situation.  In many cases, depression in older adults comes out when another disease or illness comes out.  Many of the symptoms of depression are misinterpreted as symptoms of an existing condition.

Identifying Depression In The Elderly

In order to diagnose depression in seniors, doctors will often administer a Geriatric Depression Scale test that is 30 questions of yes or no that are designed to screen for depressive symptoms in geriatric patients.  Some of the symptoms of depression include:

  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Sadness
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Memory Loss
  • Irritability
  • Loss of enjoyment in activities that once brought pleasure
  • Changes in eating patterns
  • Lack of concentration
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Hopelessness
  • Fear of death

Should any of these symptoms last longer than two weeks and become strong enough that it influences your social, professional, or familial life, seek medical attention immediately.

There are many different circumstances that can bring on depression.  Particularly with senior citizens, a fear of death and the loss of the people to whom they have been the closest can bring on depression.  Losing your spouse and your closest friends is going to be difficult at any age.  It is particularly difficult for seniors who sometimes have only those similarly aged people to depend upon.  A woman with no children who loses her spouse is likely going to feel very alone in the world.  This can bring on feelings of depression.  Medical difficulties such as the use of certain medications, mental disorders common to people who are aging such as dementia, or vascular problems can bring on depression in older people.

Treating Depression in Senior Citizens

When a doctor suspects that a patient is suffering from depression, he or she will want to rule out any potential physical causes of the illness.  You are likely to receive a full physical exam and a number of common medical tests such as blood test, livers tests, and thyroid tests.  Provided that these tests exclude a physical cause, your doctor will then proceed to the conventional psychological testing for depression.

Generally, senior patients response very well to the typical depression treatments of antidepressant medications and psychotherapy.  The recovery rate for seniors is very high once the condition is diagnosed.  The more difficult part of the treatment for depression in seniors is lifestyle modification.  In younger people, one of the suggestions that is often offered is to increase physical and social activity.  This can be very helpful for senior citizens as well, but it can sometimes be difficult to coordinate.  Exercise will certainly elevate your mood and help to keep you in good physical health which helps your mental health, but many older people are beyond the point where this is a possibility.  However, any movement is good movement and can be of good use.

Some seniors who experience depression because of social isolation would do well to find some other seniors in the area with whom to visit or share time together.  Sometimes it is possible for local social service organizations or church families to visit people who have limited mobility so that they can benefit from some social interaction.  Visitations can be a help not only to keep the older adults social, but also to monitor any other on-going conditions that could appear between doctor’s visits.

No one should have to live with untreated depression.  Current treatments work well enough that there should be no reason for suffering.  If you are an older adult, and you are experiencing the symptoms of depression, talk to your doctor or seek out the help of a mental health professional.  The sooner you speak up, the sooner you will start to feel like yourself again.

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