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Driving Fears & Driving Avoidance in Teens & Young Drivers

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Reader Question: My daughter just turned 15, and no matter what I say, I can’t seem to convince her to practice her driving. It’s strange, because in the past, all she could do is talk about how excited she was to finally get her permit. I truly thought that she’d be practicing constantly once she was legally able to. Have you seen this before? Could her driving avoidance possibly be related to her OCD? Sincerely, Stressed-Out Parent Answer: Maybe, maybe not. Driving Fears May Be Normal… Driving-related anxiety is a completely normal phenomenon. For many people, learning to drive is the first time that they are individually responsible for handling a situation that could potentially be life-threatening. Although car accidents are (hopefully) rare for most individuals, accidents can be harmful (or deadly) when they do occur. Being in charge...

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Hit-and-Run OCD vs. Other Driving Fears

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What is hit-and-run OCD? Hit-and-run OCD (sometimes called MVA-OCD) is a subtype of obsessive-compulsive disorder that involves persistent and recurrent worries that you’ve hit someone while driving. While most people with hit-and-run OCD worry, “What if I accidentally hit a pedestrian?”, some worry about unintentionally causing car accidents, bike accidents, or property damage. Hit-and-run OCD is frequently misdiagnosed as panic disorder given that many people with panic disorder (with agoraphobia) also report a fear of driving. However, hit-and-run OCD and panic disorder are distinct conditions that may often be differentiated on the basis of their core fears. Driving Fears Related to Panic Disorder (with Agoraphobia) For someone who has panic disorder with agoraphobia, driving fears might arise because: Driving may have been associated with panic attacks in the past. Some people with panic disorder have a history of having...

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OCD About Pets and Animals: Harm

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Obsessions focusing on pets and animals incorporate all the common themes: contamination, checking, harm, scrupulosity, and sex. In this 3-part blog series, I discuss some of the common ways obsessions may target our lovable, snuggable friends. This article, Part 1, will focus on harm obsessions; Part 2 will cover contamination obsessions; and Part 3 will address sexual obsessions and scrupulosity, as they pertain to pets and animals. Pets. You gotta love ‘em. They’re so cute. They’re so cuddly. They always get excited when they see you. So why does OCD hate them so much anyway? Probably because we love them. Just as OCD tends to torment parents who love their children, OCD also loves to torment pet owners who love their pets. Get ready to brace yourself for all sorts of violent and horrific thoughts about pets and animals....

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Anger and OCD – Getting Mad…

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“I hate having OCD! Why can’t these thoughts just stop?!?! How can I be the person I was before?!?!” Many people with OCD are extremely familiar with the anxiety-related aspects of the disorder. OCD is an anxiety disorder after all, so it’s not terribly surprising that anxiety is often core to its experience. But anxiety is certainly not the only emotion that shows up in OCD. I’ve discussed briefly how some people with OCD have symptoms of guilt, shame, disgust, and depression, and how treatment may sometimes need to be modified when these emotions are primary aspects of the disorder. Today, though, I’d like to comment briefly on anger and OCD, which I don’t think I’ve mentioned explicitly in previous posts. Anger can be a powerful force in many people’s OCD. What’s the relationship between anger and OCD? Actually,...

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ERP Tip of the Day #2

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It’s ERP tip time. This series of posts focuses on tips to enhance the effectiveness of your exposure and response prevention (ERP). If you’re interested in more ERP tips, click the following link for all the posts in this series. Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) Tips for OCD Without further ado, here’s another ERP tip to consider when designing your next exposure. ERP Tip #2 When completing your next exposure, avoid rules that dictate what you’re allowed to think during the exposure. If you try to complete an exposure without having a certain bad thought, chances are that you’re setting yourself up to think that very thought. Instead, design your exposure around having that very same unwanted thought. I love it when people with OCD do exposure, but I don’t love it when they have a long list of...

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ERP Tip of the Day #1

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Starting today, I am going to start posting random ERP tips as they occur to me, as there are certain roadblocks that many of my OCD patients tend to encounter. If it’s helpful for my patients, maybe it’s helpful for you. If you’re interested in more ERP tips, click the following link for all the posts in this series. Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) Tips for OCD These posts will probably be a bit shorter unless the concept requires a more thorough discussion. Please feel free to leave comments below, if you need more information. Today’s tip is… ERP Tip #1 Do not label your rituals as ERP. Instead embrace openness, defenselessness, and vulnerability. You might think that you never do this, but it happens more often than you think. Some people that I know will encounter triggers for...

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