Obsessive and Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

OCD – What is it and how can Dr. Lara Litov help?

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a common, chronic, and long-lasting disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and/or behaviors (compulsions) that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over. It effects about 1-2% of the people, which is over 2.2 million people, in the US.

There are two aspects to OCD, that feed each other’s symptoms, obsessions, and compulsions.

 Obsessions are thoughts, images, or impulses that occur over and over again and feel out of a person’s control. These obsession symptoms usually fall into one or more of the following categories:

  • Fear of contamination or dirt
  • Doubting and having difficulty tolerating uncertainty- Fearing responsible for the harm done to others
  • Obsessions related to perfectionism- Needing things orderly and symmetrical, fear of forgetting or losing things or making a mistake
  • Fear or Aggressive or horrific thoughts about losing control and harming yourself or others or stealing, etc
  • Unwanted thoughts, including aggression, or sexual or religious subjects
  • Obsessive fear of getting physical illness

Compulsions are repetitive behaviors that a person feels driven, or compelled, to perform. These repetitive behaviors are in response to obsessive thoughts and are unconsciously or consciously. The compulsions are usually rules or rituals created to reduce or control anxiety related

to a person’s obsessive thoughts or in the hopes of trying to prevent something bad from happening. Although they may seem similar to superstitions, they are different in that these interfere with a person’s well-being.

These compulsive behaviors usually fall into one or more of these categories

  • Washing and cleaning
  • Checking the stove or lock on doors numerous times
  • Counting, tics, repetitive movements in a certain number
  • Orderliness – ie needing things to be symmetrical, or in a specific order
  • Following a strict routine that creates fear and anxiety if it isn’t followed.
  • Hoarding can be a result of OCD
OCD - Obsessions & Compulsions
OCD Symptoms & Behaviors - Navon Health

I have worked extensively with many people struggling with OCD, including severe OCD, and I have a high rate of success.

There are many factors that contribute to OCD. Genetics, nutrition, hormones, and one’s environment are all factors. Also, pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcal infections, (aka PANDAS) can sometimes be a precipitating factor. And many times I have seen medication be a precipitating or contributing factor.

ADHD, Depression, Social Anxiety Disorder, Eating Disorders, Tourette’s Syndrome, substance abuse

Telehealth is a great option for those needing assistance with mental health concerns, including OCD. We are so lucky to have HIPAA-compliant telehealth available for accessing some types of healthcare.

It allows you to have appointments from anywhere that are private and safe in a place of your choosing. It allows you not to have to worry or struggle with traffic and saves you time for travel, waiting rooms, parking, and such. Also, many of my patients live far from where I live and this allows people to access my services and care even if in another time zone.

One other thing about telemedicine is that it allows as much privacy as you like.  Some people feel uncomfortable getting care for medical services and being recognized in a waiting room or a medical building by their co-workers or bosses, or by their students if they are teachers, etc.

Labs and imaging can still be ordered through the lab that is local to you. And there are many home monitoring systems that we can use to find out things like blood pressure, temperature, and more.

What are Dr. Lara Litov’s goals to helping people with OCD?

  • The ultimate goal is to improve your day-to-day quality of life, to function better at home and work, and to decrease underlying and exacerbations of OCD.
  • Sometimes people turn to other avenues to address their OCD, including alcohol and or recreational drugs. Or even over-the-counter drugs. One goal is to decrease and hopefully eliminate the need for those things and replace with healthier options.
  • Treat other physical and mental health concerns you have that are impacting your OCD and health in general. Many health issues are interrelated.
  • A key goal is to give you the tools to take with you to manage your OCD on your own and to return for appointments as needed for tune-ups or new problems.

How do we achieve these goals using Integrative Medicine?

  • I conduct a thorough medical evaluation, medical history, labs, and imaging, and take the time to really listen to how the OCD is showing up in your life and its impact on you and your relationships.
  • I take a multi-systems approach and look at the genetic, biological, neurological, biochemical, hormonal, environmental, nutritional aspects of what is going on for you and address whether they are contributing to your symptoms.
  • I address both the acute symptoms and the underlying root cause of the problems. The acute symptoms are sometimes distressing as they are difficult to control (which is the nature of this disorder), so managing those symptoms while we uncover and treat the root of the problem is very important!
  • My treatment plans are individualized specifically for you, and usually include other health concerns that are related to your OCD. Treatments are individualized and as you improve, we can adjust the plan for long-term maintenance.
  • I integrate natural and conventional medicine, specific counseling, and mind/body techniques– the best of all worlds – in my treatment plans. In terms of OCD symptoms, specifically, I rarely need to utilize prescription medications, but occasionally it is needed. Click here to see a list of the primary treatments I utilize.