McLean Hospital 115 Mill Street Belmont, MA 02478
Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common 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.
2.2 million adults live with OCD, and while the median age of onset is 19 years old, 25 percent develop the illness by age 14.
At McLean Hospital, we are committed to providing robust care, support, and education resources for individuals with OCD.
McLean Hospital offers comprehensive mental health services to help children and adults living with 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 residential, day, and outpatient programs focus on providing skills for patients to manage their illnesses on their own. McLean also focuses on providing robust patient and family education and support including educational materials, support groups, and assistance with community resources.
OCD Institute (OCDI)
Intensive treatment for adults ages 16 and older who are living with severe or treatment-resistant OCD.
Behavioral Health Partial Hospital Program
A comprehensive, multi-track treatment program serving as a step-down from or as an alternative to inpatient care.
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.
OCD 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. The condition 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.
You may find these organizations useful for more information on OCD.
McLean Hospital faculty have penned more than 50 books in recent years, including these books about anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder.
Understanding OCD: Skills to Control the Conscience and Outsmart Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
by Leslie J. Shapiro
Clinical Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders in Adults and Children
by Robert Hudak, Darin D. Dougherty, eds.
(Cambridge University Press, 2011)
Looking for information on another mental health condition? Visit one of these pages to find out more.