An Overview of Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) Therapy
Exposure and response prevention therapy is a mental treatment of anxiety disorder related to Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). In this, we make patients tolerant of obsessions.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common disorder related to mental health. A person feels anxiety and a continuous urge to do the same task, like washing hands repeatedly, due to constant thinking of germs present on hands after they touch something filthy.
In Obsessive-compulsive disorder, patients feel mental anxiety under some circumstances. To get rid of that feeling, they do actions in a cyclic manner. OCD patients do not even notice their behaviour is irrational, so for the treatment for OCD, ERP is crucial.
All of us are overthinkers at some points, but we are not usually compelled to resolve random thoughts. We often left them suspended, but if you are compelled to neutralize your intrusive thoughts, you have OCD. Obsessive stimuli can be anything that triggers your mood. As a result, you will spend all your time and energy (even during office hours) to get rid of them.
Symptoms of OCD
OCD is a psychiatric condition in which patients have intrusive thoughts that they have lost something. They keep checking things, which also might include checking done tasks over and over again. For example, checking door locks, checking stove knobs, checking set alarms. Taking pregnancy tests for being sure or thinking about having disease on every small sneeze are the thoughts, images, and visuals that might dominate a person’s mind.
Usually, people have no idea they have an anxiety disorder and how they can reduce anxiety. They feel irritated by intrusive thoughts. They can sometimes go violent. OCD patients often feel trapped or cheated by their loved ones without any reason. They try to control their thoughts, but they seem powerless over their actions.
OCD patients often feel distressed after touching anything dirty. They wash their hands so much that their skin starts peeling. Another symptom of OCD patients is arrangement consciousness; they can never sit tight if they find something not appropriately aligned in the room. They often felt disrespected and treated rudely by others.
People with obsessive-compulsive disorder often feel their behaviour is nonsense but can’t stop doing it because they start feeling anxiety if they stop. So, they start doing it again, and sometimes they enjoy doing the same thing repeatedly.
Treatment of Obsessive-compulsive Disorder OCD
OCD will not go in one day. The first thing in the treatment of OCD is to visit a doctor. The doctor will examine and find out either the problem is physical or mental. Many psychiatrists suggest talking therapy in combination with medication. Two types of talk therapy are:
1. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
In this therapy, we teach people to tackle their negative thoughts. We try to break the cycle of obsession and compulsion. We give them the way to think from a different perspective, the productive one.
2. Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) Therapy
As the name indicates, it is related to exposing OCD patients to their fear. Through ERP therapy, we try to show them the ways other than the compulsion to tackle their fear through little exposure. This therapy can be conducted with the patient solely or in a group session. Sometimes, we do this in front of the family.
Antidepressants are usually given to OCD patients. Drugs like Clomipramine, fluoxetine, paroxetine, and other antidepressants are a line of medication that psychiatric doctors prescribe. Antidepressants might take time to show results. Some patients get side effects like suicidal thoughts, nausea, vomiting, etc. In that situation, you should call your doctor.
Once you have started taking medication, we advise you not to stop them suddenly after you start to feel better. These drugs need to taper down first before the complete stoppage.
Other Treatment for OCD
The patients who have severe OCD and not responding to medications and therapy, we advise them for clinical trial, deep brain stimulation or electric shock therapy.
Difference Between Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy (ERP) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
In Cognitive Behavior therapy CBT, we ask patients about their obsession. Once they confirm their obsessions, we ask them to face them. It can cause depression in OCD patients, as you are messing with their obsession and making it more irritating for them.
Exposure and response prevention therapy or ERP therapy is a type of Cognitive Behavior therapy. In this therapy, we expose OCD patients to the stimuli that cause them distress and anxiety; simultaneously, we limit them to respond to it.
American association of psychology has recommended exposure and response prevention therapy ERP appropriate for OCD in the 1970s. The main goal of therapy is to gain back your brain with less medication. Emotional support plays a vital role in any therapy. Therefore, you surround yourself with people who understand OCD and can shift your brain to a healthy side.