Anxiety and OCD

Treatment and Support for Anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorders

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Overview

40 million American adults are affected by anxiety, making anxiety disorders the most common mental health conditions in the United States. 2.2 million adults have obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and while the median age of onset is 19 years old, 25% develop the illness by age 14. At McLean Hospital, we are committed to providing robust care, support, and education resources for individuals with anxiety and OCD.

Anxiety is an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts, and physical changes like increased blood pressure. People with anxiety disorders usually have recurring intrusive thoughts or concerns. They may avoid certain situations out of worry. They may also have physical symptoms such as sweating, trembling, dizziness, or a rapid heartbeat.

OCD is an anxiety disorder in which people have unwanted and repeated thoughts, feelings, ideas, sensations (obsessions), or behaviors that make them feel driven to do something (compulsions). Often the person carries out the behaviors to get rid of the obsessive thoughts, but this only provides temporary relief. Not performing the obsessive rituals can cause great anxiety. A person’s level of OCD can be anywhere from mild to severe, but if severe and left untreated, it can destroy a person’s capacity to function at work, at school, or even to lead a comfortable existence in the home.

Learn more about treatment options at McLean, find definitions of anxiety and OCD along with some of the common therapies used to treat these diagnoses, and gain access to resources such as helpful links and books by McLean experts.

Anxiety and OCD Treatment at McLean

McLean Hospital offers comprehensive mental health services to help children and adults living with anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Care incorporates individual, group, and family therapy, behavioral therapies, diagnostic assessment, consultation services, tailored treatment plans, and medication evaluation and management. We utilize evidence-based treatment and therapy models informed by cutting-edge research conducted at McLean and around the world. By incorporating various approaches, treatment can be customized for each individual to help ensure recovery.

Our inpatient programs offer a safe and secure environment for patients in need of immediate acute care, while our residential, day, and outpatient programs focus on providing skills for patients to manage their illnesses on their own. McLean is committed to providing robust patient and family education and support including educational materials, support groups, and assistance with community resources.

Adults

The Pavilion
A comprehensive evaluation and diagnostic program for adults with complex or treatment-resistant psychiatric conditions in a range of diagnoses.

OCD Institute (OCDI)
Intensive treatment for adults ages 16 and older who are living with severe or treatment-resistant obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

LEADER
Care focused on the unique needs of first responders and active duty military. Residential and outpatient options are available.

Treatment at McLeanAdult Inpatient Services
With two locations in Massachusetts, these programs focus on intensive crisis stabilization for patients with mood, anxiety, and/or psychotic disorders.

Behavioral Health Partial Hospital Program
A comprehensive, multi-track treatment program serving as a step-down from or as an alternative to inpatient care.

McLean SouthEast Adult Psychiatric Partial Hospital Program
Structured day program treatment in Middleborough, Massachusetts, focusing on mood and anxiety disorders.

Children and Adolescents

3East
Intensive programs for adolescents ages 13 to 20 who require treatment for depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and borderline personality disorder.

McLean-Franciscan Child and Adolescent Inpatient Program
Stabilization and treatment for children and adolescents ages 3 to 19 who are in psychiatric crisis.

Child and Adolescent OCD Institute
A treatment program for children and adolescents ages 10 to 18 with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), specific phobias, panic attacks, and anxiety disorders.

McLean Anxiety Mastery Program
A comprehensive outpatient program for children and adolescents ages 7 to 19 with social anxiety, phobias, panic attacks, separation anxiety, and OCD.

Adolescent Acute Residential Treatment (ART) Program
Short-term treatment for adolescents ages 13 to 19 with emotional and behavioral difficulties including those with substance use disorders.

Child and Adolescent Outpatient Services
Individual and group outpatient therapy for children and teens, focused on an array of mental health diagnoses.

What Are Anxiety and OCD?

If you tend to worry a lot, even when there’s no reason, you may have anxiety. It may be something you are so used to that you may think it’s just “how you are.” Common worries include health, money, family, or work. While everyone worries about these things once in a while, if you always expect the worst, it can get in the way of living a normal life. Though researchers are still investigating the causes of anxiety, they have identified the areas of the brain responsible for fear and anxiety and are using proven studies to increase knowledge in this field in an effort to create improved treatments for anxiety and related disorders.

Common treatments for anxiety disorders include individual and group therapy, and medications as appropriate. Other treatments may include TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation) and ECT (electroconvulsive therapy), both of which have been found to have profound effects on individuals with depression or anxiety, especially for those who have not found relief in symptoms through other treatment methods.

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common anxiety disorder. It causes unreasonable thoughts, fears, or worries. A person with OCD tries to manage these thoughts through rituals. Frequent disturbing thoughts or images are called obsessions. They are irrational and can cause severe anxiety. Reasoning doesn’t help control the thoughts. Rituals or compulsions are actions that help stop or ease the obsessive thoughts. OCD occurs in children, adolescents, and adults, and with proper treatment, symptoms can be managed. While neuroscientists are investigating the areas of the brain thought to be responsible for OCD, clinician-researchers are also conducting studies to constantly improve OCD treatments such as exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT).

The exposure in ERP refers to exposing yourself to the thoughts, images, objects, and situations that make you anxious and/or start your obsessions. The response prevention part of ERP refers to making a choice not to do a compulsive behavior once the anxiety or obsessions have been “triggered.” All of this is done under the guidance of a therapist at the beginning—though individuals will eventually learn to do their own ERP exercises to help manage symptoms.

ACT promotes a willingness to accept and address, rather than avoid, difficult thoughts and emotions and may reduce barriers to other forms of treatment. Rather than avoiding unwanted thoughts and feelings, individuals learn skills to help them to change their relationship to the experiences into a more positive reaction.

Anxiety and OCD Resources

You may find these organizations useful for more information on anxiety and OCD.

Anxiety Disorders

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Interesting Articles

Books About Anxiety and OCD

McLean Hospital faculty have penned more than 50 books in recent years, including these books about anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder.

Anxiety Disorders: Translational Perspectives on Diagnosis and TreatmentAnxiety Disorders: Translational Perspectives on Diagnosis and Treatment
by Kerry J. Ressler, Daniel S. Pine, and Barbara Olasov Rothbaum
(Oxford University Press, 2015)


Understanding OCDUnderstanding OCD: Skills to Control the Conscience and Outsmart Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
by Leslie J. Shapiro
(Praeger, 2015)


Clinical Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders in Adults and ChildrenClinical Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders in Adults and Children
by Robert Hudak, Darin D. Dougherty, eds.
(Cambridge University Press, 2011)


Learn More

Looking for information on another mental health condition? Visit one of these pages to find out more.

ADDICTION BIPOLAR DISORDER AND SCHIZOPHRENIA BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER
CHILD AND ADOLESCENT CARE DEPRESSION EATING DISORDERS
OLDER ADULT CARE TRAUMA CLINICAL RESOURCES