Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) often appears in adolescence or young adulthood and then gets progressively worse over the years, significantly affecting your quality of life. As an expert in evidence-based psychotherapies for OCD, especially ERP (Exposure and Response Treatment), Dr. Rachel Katherine Levy has successfully helped many patients with OCD overcome obsessions and compulsions and resume their life journey with new goals and vitality. To schedule an appointment, use the online booking feature or call one of the offices located on the Upper East Side of New York City and in Bronxville, New York.


What is OCD?

OCD is a mental health disorder in which you develop repetitive and unwanted thoughts and feelings called obsessions. Your obsessions cause such intense anxiety that you may feel compelled to take action to relieve the anxiety. These actions are called compulsions. When you have OCD, you may have obsessions, compulsions, or both.

When you have both, acting on your compulsions may temporarily relieve your obsessions, but the intrusive thoughts ultimately return. If you manage to fight your compulsions and avoid taking action, your anxiety gets substantially worse.

Obsessions and compulsions appear in cycles with varying frequency, depending on the severity of your OCD. Your symptoms may come and go, get better for a time, then get worse. In the most severe cases, you may spend hours each day performing compulsive behaviors to ward off anxiety.

What types of obsessions might I develop?

Obsessive thoughts, images, and impulses are disturbing, intrusive, and unwanted. They typically get in the way of your daily responsibilities and the activities you enjoy or value. In many patients, obsessions follow a theme, such as:

  • Fear of germs
  • Fear of being harmed
  • Fear of losing things
  • Fear of saying something inappropriate
  • Need to keep things orderly or symmetrical
  • Doubt that you turned off the stove or locked the door

Some patients may have obsessions about engaging in illegal activities or envision unwanted sexual activities.

What types of compulsions might I follow?

Compulsions often match your obsessions. For example, you may:

  • Repeatedly wash your hands or clean your clothes
  • Demand constant reassurance
  • Frequently check to be sure you aren’t injured
  • Constantly rearrange items into a specific order
  • Follow a strict routine
  • Repetitively count the same items
  • Continuously check the door or stove

Everyone knows the feeling of suddenly wondering if they locked the door. They check once, verify it’s locked, and forget about it. When you have OCD, you’re compelled to keep checking the door despite knowing that it was locked the last time you looked.

You may also have mental compulsions, which are activities you do in your head. For example, you may count to yourself while performing a task because you’re compelled to do it a certain number of times.

How does psychotherapy treat OCD?

Dr. Levy has extensive experience in many types of evidence-based therapies that can help you overcome OCD by learning to control your thoughts and resist your compulsions. However, her first step is taking the time to talk with you, learn the details about your obsessions and compulsions, and evaluate you for potential co-occurring disorders. It’s common for patients with OCD to also have an anxiety disorder or depression.

If you have questions about OCD or you’d like to schedule an appointment, call Dr. Rachel Katherine Levy or schedule an appointment online.

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