OCD & Anxiety + Indecisiveness & Difficulty With Decisions | How CBT Can Help
At GroundWork in Orlando our Cognitive Behavioral Therapists (CBT) often find that the clients they treat have a difficult time making decisions. It is common for individuals with Anxiety Disorders (Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety, Phobias, Generalized Anxiety Disorder), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and depression to become anxious and fearful when faced with making a decision.
We all tend to contemplate many pros and cons of various options throughout our day, from what we should wear, what we should order at a restaurant, whether we should go to the gym, what we should do on the weekend. For most of us, making these common decisions is quite easy, yet for individuals with anxiety, OCD and depression, even these small decisions can cause a great deal of anxiety and worry. When faced with big decisions, such as moving, accepting a job offer, leaving or staying in a relationship, individuals suffering with anxiety, OCD and depression can become paralyzed by the decision-making process.
In 1956, Nobel-prize winning economist Herman Simon created the terms “satisficer” and “maximiser” to describe the decision-making styles that “prioritizes and adequate solution over an optimal solution”. He found that Satisficers make decisions rather easily. They do some research and tend to settle for “good enough”. Research has found that these individuals tend be overall happier and less anxious. On the other hand, Maximizers, who feel they must make the very best decision tend to be more perfectionistic, depressed and anxious. They spend a great deal of time researching, are often paralyzed by the decision-making process and even when they do make a decision, they are filled with doubt and lack gratification because they feel that they may have missed out on something better. Numerous studies have found that maximisers tend to set unachievable goals and suffer from pressures of self-imposed high expectations.
Using the Internet to help gain information often leads to even more indecision as we spend hours exploring reviews, reading various opinions and researching every option. Instead of helping us to make better decisions, this virtually unlimited access to information can lead to an even greater fear of making the wrong decision. We often feel overwhelmed and our brain becomes exhausted by all of the information we’ve analyzed, which often leads to procrastination and avoidance.
Although it can be useful to do some “research” before making a decision, it is important to acknowledge that we cannot avoid uncertainty or discomfort in the process of decision making. Every decision is relative and is guided by how we view the world, ourselves and others.
Every decision has a consequence and we have the ability to learn from our decision, even if it has a negative impact.
At GroundWork in Orlando, CBT therapists provide individuals with anxiety disorders, OCD and depression with a well-researched model of therapy for making and committing to decisions in the face of uncertainty. By learning to reframe how we perceive decisions and accepting that decision-making is a routine and necessary part of everyday life, we can focus on reducing the anxiety that is felt about the threat of making a wrong decision and create more unconditional acceptance for the decision we have made.
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