No OCD Diagnosis During a Pandemic

Conversation With A  Psychologist

This may become an unpopular opinion, but it is my informed clinical opinion: We mental health professionals should not be diagnosing germ-based OCD now, and for the next year or so.

When making a diagnosis, mental health professionals need to consider the lasting impact of that diagnosis on the client’s medical record, current and future treatment, and their ability to handle knowing their diagnosis. Telling a client that they have OCD as related to germs, illness, or fears thereof during a pandemic dismisses their legitimate fears.

There is an overabundance of news to take in by traditional and social media, many of whose statements are at odds with one another. It can be difficult to know how to feel informed and confusion can reign when finding trusted sources. 

This is an unprecedented time. There is no rule for diagnosing during a pandemic because, thankfully, we have not had one in recent memory that lasted so long or had such far-reaching and significant effects. 

Exceptions: If the problem was in existence before the pandemic by several months, and client is certain that it was in place, but it is exacerbated by the pandemic, I might diagnose OCD. If the problem is not related to germs or illness, I would diagnose OCD.

Once the pandemic is over, as things become “the new normal”, continue to monitor the client. Ask how they are easing back into routine. Anxiety, trauma, depression, or obsessive thoughts may cause them to be slower to reintegrate. Ask if the compulsions are similar or have abated at all. OCD is a big diagnosis and I would not want a client saddled with something so heavy if it were situationally appropriate, even if it was out of proportion. 

Autumn Hahn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist practicing at Clear Mind Group in Weston, Florida. Call 954-612-9553 for a consultation. Follow Autumn on TwitterFacebook, and Google+. Sign up for the e-newsletter HERE.

Always Communicate

Yellow tulips on a dark background
Bouquet of yellow tulips on a dark background

It’s cliche because it’s true; communication is key in any relationship. My relationship is no exception. Here’s an excerpt from my real life:

Some friends were coming into town on Friday night for our mutual friend’s birthday party the next day. I suggested to my husband that they might want to get together for a late dinner. I couldn’t attend because I was getting over being sick and needed the extra rest. He said that sounded good. I told him “It’ll take an effort on your part,” meaning he needed to call them to arrange plans.

Husband said “I feel guilty tripped, now. Like I have to call them and go out.”

I said “That’s not how I meant to come across. I wanted to make you aware of an opportunity, in case you choose to make plans. Help me; how would you have liked to have heard that so it didn’t sound like guilt or obligation?”

Husband replied “Maybe if you’d have explained it as an option, or not used the phrase ‘an effort’, because you’ve said that I need to ‘make an effort’ before when I wasn’t seeing our friends.”

I responded “That makes sense to me. Sorry that I made you feel guilty. They’re your friends, too. I’m stuck home, but call them if you want, or you’ll see them tomorrow.”

He did call and they went out. And we all hung out the next day. But there was no animosity, no hurt feelings, no lingering guilt or anger because we discussed it in the moment like rational adults.

What is an example of a time you communicated your feelings and were heard in a positive way? Or is this a skill you’re just learning?

Autumn Hahn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist practicing at Clear Mind Group in Weston, Florida. Call 954-612-9553 for a consultation. Follow Autumn on Twitter, and Facebook. Sign up for the e-newsletter HERE.

Exposure Therapy is Harming Our Vets

0vetThis post is intentionally controversial. Rather, this post asserts my position firmly and you’re welcome to disagree with me.

A 2013 episode of 60 Minutes discussed treatments being used to treat trauma (PTSD) in veterans. I am disgusted at re-traumatization as a “cure.” If you were raped, would you want to relive rape until you were desensitized or would you rather an alternative that worked faster and involved none of that painful reliving? Continue reading “Exposure Therapy is Harming Our Vets”

Good Kids; Yes, Even Yours

0Bubble_Wrap_Your_Kid_Cover_for_KindleAvoid arguments with your child and encourage compliance by scaling the number of choices down by the age and stage of your child. For children under 10, 2 options will be sufficient. Lay out tomorrow’s clothes and ask, “Would you rather wear the brown pants or the green ones?” As your child ages, so do the decisions. “Would you rather have the Spiderman backpack or the Dora one?”

Set a pattern for narrowing things down to 2 choices and choosing between them. This helps to avoid arguments Continue reading “Good Kids; Yes, Even Yours”

Anxiety in Others

00micQuestion: How can I enjoy my visit with my friend, who is often plagued by anxiety so badly that he makes plans, but then can’t or won’t leave the house? On past trips, I’ve been so frustrated by his seeming ambivalence to go out with me that I’ve wanted to leave early. I’ve gotten angry and upset and it ruined my visit. I want to have a different experience this time, but don’t know if things will be any different on his part.

Answer: Reframe the situation. Continue reading “Anxiety in Others”

The Worst Thing About Being a Therapist

0drownFor me, the worst thing about being a therapist is seeing people in pain who are not  yet willing or ready to make a change. This includes people who resonate with the following statements:

  • I don’t think change is possible.
  • I’ve had these symptoms so long, they must be permanent.
  • Therapy can only take me so far.
  • Therapy hasn’t fixed it before, so it can’t.
  • I am my diagnosis.
  • If I’m not sick/mentally ill/in pain, who am I?

These statements are all arguable because the right therapy, the right techniques and therapist for an individual can overcome all of that. Continue reading “The Worst Thing About Being a Therapist”

Communicating with Infants

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My Mom always treated children like tiny people, because they are. With your infant, when in doubt, do the following, according to my Mom.

My Mom loves babies, both my parents do. Mom always said, babies can’t talk, but they want to, so they cry. And when they cry, do the following, in this order: Continue reading “Communicating with Infants”