Dear Dr. Yael,
I suffer from serious Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), which manifests itself in davening and germs. I know that some of this comes from childhood, as my mother goes crazy with kashrus and Pesach preparations were always a nightmare growing up. Now, though, my family is suffering. I have been in therapy for a while, but it has not helped much. I have been thinking about medication, but my wife thinks I can overcome this disorder without. What do you think?
OCD is a disease that is generally genetic, and it may be something your mother has as well.
In regards to medication, I can tell you that I have seen tremendous success in treating patients with OCD with a combination of therapy and medication. To quote Dr. Larry Brysken, a psychiatrist colleague, “Why drive yourself meshuga when you can really get relief with medication.” Congnitive Behavioral Therapy in conjunction with the right medication, generally an SSRI like Zoloft or Prozac, can help one function more effectively. I ask my clients, “If you had diabetes, would you even hesitate to take medication?” The answer is usually, “Of course I would take medication if I had diabetes!” So why are people so reluctant to take medication for true biological psychological difficulties. OCD, like other forms of anxiety, has a medical component that must be addressed in addition to the psychological one.
This is not to say that certain conditions can’t be addressed with exercise, therapy, and a change in outlook, but those are generally minor issues.
Please stop blaming yourself. A genetic condition is not something that can be easily changed. However, I am hopeful that with the right therapist, and some medication, you will find life much more pleasant and easier to navigate.
I wish you and your family hatzlacha.
A note to Jodie Maoz,
I really appreciated your letter in last week’s Inbox on how you told your children about their being adopted. Purchasing a Cabbage Patch doll for each son, and explaining that the doll was their adopted child was sensitive and insightful.
I agree that it is better to tell a child at a young age about the adoption and prevent the trauma the teenage girl who wrote me experienced. Adopted children should feel special that they were chosen by their families.