UF Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Program
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The UF OCD Program is located at the Springhill Health Center
8491 NW 39th Ave in Gainesville, FL 32606
The University of Florida Obsessive -Compulsive Disorder (UFOCD) Program is the leading clinical program for the evaluation and treatment in the southeastern United States.
We specialize in treating severe or treatment-resistant OCD, offering comprehensive evaluations, expert consultations, novel biological treatments, cognitive-behavioral therapy (intensive and weekly), and research studies.
We treat adults, adolescents and children with OCD, Tourette Syndrome (TS), anxiety disorders and other related disorders in our Gainesville, Florida location. Being located in the heart of a major medical center, we can also perform comprehensive diagnostic tests as appropriate.
What is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an illness that affects thoughts and actions but is believed to be rooted in a chemical imbalance of the brain. OCD is characterized by the presence of obsessions and/or compulsions in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – Fifth Edition (DSM-V).
This puzzling illness is characterized by recurrent and disturbing thoughts (called obsessions) and/or repetitive, ritualized behaviors that the person feels driven to perform (called compulsions). Obsessions can also take the form of intrusive images or unwanted impulses.
Definitions of Obsessions and Compulsions
Obsessions are unwelcome and distressing ideas, thoughts, images or impulses that repeatedly enter your mind. They may seem to occur against your will. They may be repugnant to you, you may recognize them as senseless, and they may not fit your personality or value system. Common types of obsessions include concerns with:
- Contamination (e.g., fear of dirt germs, or illness)
- Safety/harm (e.g., being responsible for a fire)
- Unwanted acts of aggression (e.g., unwanted impulse to harm a loved one)
- Unacceptable sexual or religious thoughts (e.g., sacrilegious images of Christ)
- The need for symmetry or exactness
Compulsions, on the other hand, are behaviors or acts that you feel driven to perform although you may recognize them as senseless or excessive. At times, you may try to resist doing them but this may prove difficult. You may experience anxiety that does not diminish until the behavior is completed. Common compulsions include:
- Excessive cleaning (e.g., ritualized hand washing)
- Checking, ordering and arranging rituals
- Repeating routine activities (e.g., going in/out of a doorway)
- Hoarding (e.g., collecting useless items)
- Unobservable mental rituals (e.g., silent recitation of nonsense words to vanquish a horrific image)
While most compulsions are observable behaviors (e.g., hand washing), some are performed as unobservable mental rituals (e.g., silent recitation of nonsense words to vanquish a horrific image).
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been shown to be highly effective in OCD treatment. In fact, recent studies show most patients (~80-85%) achieve at least a 50% or greater reduction in symptoms, and many also show a marked reduction in depressive symptoms.
CBT involves two main components: exposure and response prevention.
- Exposure refers to confronting the stimuli that triggers obsessions
- Response Prevention refers to resisting compulsions or rituals. Cognitive therapy involves teaching people to respond to anxious thoughts in an adaptive and realistic manner.
In the UF OCD Program, we offer both intensive outpatient and weekly CBT treatment programs. Pharmacological treatment is coordinated as needed throughout either treatment plan.
The outpatient intensive program we offer is one of the very few such programs in the country. On average, patients in the intensive cognitive behavior therapy program stay 3 weeks, though this may vary depending on the progress of the patient. Patients are generally seen from 60-90 minutes per day 5 days per week with homework assigned everyday.
Most patients in the intensive program stay in extended stay hotels in Gainesville. The intensive program is based on principles of exposure and response prevention, as well as cognitive therapy. Generally, a team of 2 or 3 therapists are assigned to each individual (and their family if appropriate). For follow-up we either see patients or try to refer to experienced professionals who treat anxiety disorders. In some cases, we maintain phone contact with patients and/or families.
Associate Professor of Psychology
Division of Medical Psychology, Department of Psychiatry