Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) have some similarities, which, unfortunately sometimes leads to a misdiagnosis. The misdiagnosis of GAD and OCD can have a substantial impact on the individual, as treatment for each disorder is vastly different; sometimes a person with misdiagnosed OCD will engage in years of ineffective therapy with little improvement for suspected GAD.
The Difference Between GAD and OCD
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is characterized by persistent worry, tension, and fear that presents during regular activities. Someone struggling with GAD often has an overestimated level of danger, and is not specific to a singular event or situation. It often presents itself in physical symptoms such as restlessness, panic, irritability, safety behaviors, and avoidance behaviors. On the other hand, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) differs from GAD in that it involves distressing thoughts that lead to compulsive behaviors. These compulsions are driven by an individual’s need to decrease perceived threat, and to alleviate anxiety associated with their obsessions. Obsessions/intrusive thoughts do not reflect a person’s true beliefs or values.
Compulsions Vs Safety Behaviors
A person struggling with GAD often will engage in safety behaviors or avoidance behaviors to decrease anxiety and reduce perceived safety threats. This can choosing not to go to the mall due to a fear of a shooting, or always carrying pepper spray when out for a walk. To an untrained eye, safety behaviors appear similar to compulsions, however, a clinician well versed in evaluating and assessing OCD and GAD can differentiate between safety behaviors and compulsive behaviors. Compulsions typically involve either mental or physical rituals to also insure safety, typically OCD focuses on a specific topic or threat, and is less generalized, but one person can suffer from multiple obsessions or themes of OCD simultaneously.
Getting an Accurate Diagnosis
It is important for individuals to be properly assessed and diagnosed in order to receive the correct therapy. Perhaps you’ve been diagnosed with GAD, and are finding therapy ineffective; perhaps you’re receiving the wrong type of therapy, or, perhaps you’ve received the wrong diagnosis. If you are struggling, it is important to seek consultation with a specialist to receive an accurate diagnosis. With the right help, treatment can lead to significant improvement and relief from symptoms. No one should have to suffer needlessly through ineffective therapy due to incorrect diagnosis.
Evidence-Based CBT Therapy for GAD
At GroundWork Counseling we provide evidence-based CBT therapy for GAD. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based therapy that has been proven to be effective in treating GAD. During CBT, the patient and therapist work together to identify thoughts associated with fearful or anxious reactions, and challenges these thoughts by finding more rational beliefs. This process can help replace unhelpful thinking patterns with ones based on evidence and reality. This type of therapy is typically short-term, with many patients experiencing significant improvements within 15 sessions or fewer.
Evidence-Based ERP Therapy for OCD
At GroundWork Counseling we provide evidence-based ERP therapy for OCD. Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) is a type of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy that has been proven to be effective in treating OCD. The main purpose of ERP is to increase the individual’s tolerance of uncertainty by having them engage in exposure therapy or gradual repeated exposure to situations, objects or activities which provoke obsessional fears. The patient discovers that they can tolerate such anxieties without undertaking rituals and compulsive behavior that feed into the cycle of their OCD symptoms. As certain levels are tolerated, clients will eventually become more comfortable with experiences previously deemed as threatening which leads to a decreased need for compulsions and rituals. This type of therapy focuses on allowing patients to experience emotions rather than avoiding them; this process gradually helps them develop new ways of responding to anxiety-provoking situations.
Different Diagnosis = Different Therapy
As you can see, the premise of CBT and ERP are similar, but are different, and must be adapted appropriately depending on an accurate diagnosis. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for GAD and OCD to be misdiagnosed by mental health professionals. Whether you have been misdiagnosed, or you are seeking treatment for the first time, GroundWork Counseling is here to help. We provide specialized therapy for OCD and GAD, ensuring that you get the correct type of treatment to address your specific needs. Our trained specialists are here to provide the guidance and support you need to reach your goals. Whether you are needing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) that has been proven an effective approach for treating Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), or ERP which is the gold standard of treatment for OCD, we’re here to help. Our practice aims to provide a thorough and accurate assessment and diagnosis to help ensure that you receive the right treatment tailored to your needs and strongly believe in providing evidence-based therapies tailored to an accurate diagnosis, and solid treatment plan.
How We Help
At GroundWork, our therapists that are truly experts in their field, all receiving specific training in CBT from renowned institutions. Our OCD specialists have received the highest level of ERP training from the International OCD Foundation; less than 1% of mental health professionals in the country have this level of training.
We understand that recovery from GAD and OCD can be challenging, but with the right help and support, it is possible to manage these disorders and live a fulfilling life with less worry. At GroundWork Counseling in Orlando, we are pleased to here provide evidence-based therapy both in-person in central Florida, and virtually to all individuals residing in Florida.