man with ocd contemplating as he smiles and looks towards the city view

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Treatment in California

OCD a disruptive mental health disorder, often debilitating to those it affects. It’s an anxiety disorder that doesn’t go away on its own, impacting people of all ages and all walks of life. Thankfully, there are effective treatment options available at Southern California Sunrise Mental Health. Our Orange County OCD Treatment Center offers specific psychotherapies and medications for OCD.

Free Insurance Verification
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Table of Contents

What Is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, is a long-lasting mental illness that an estimated 3 million US adults (1.2%) struggle with. Roughly half (50.6%) of those adults have had a serious impairment as a result of the mental illness. It affects three times as many women as it does men, but can affect people of all varieties.

OCD is comprised of a cycle marked by obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors as a result of these thoughts. Repetitive obsessions bring anxiety, and compulsions bring temporary relief. Then it starts over and repeats itself.

These obsessions are unwanted and consist of intrusive images and ideas that trigger intense and distressing feelings. They don’t go away, often repeating themselves in similar tones.

The sudden urge to do something repeatedly is called a compulsion, which is the OCD symptom or side-effect that is most commonly recognized in today’s society. Some experience both obsessions and compulsions, but to start treating for OCD, specific patterns need to be displayed.

When an individual receives an obsessive-compulsive disorder diagnosis, the series of compulsions and obsessions need to be severe enough that it starts to consume mass amounts of time and is seen getting in the way of important activities or responsibilities that the individual values.

Common OCD Obsessions

Obsessions are impulses or thoughts that happen frequently and are often intense enough to be out of the individual’s personal control. For those people struggling with OCD, these patterns of thoughts are can be disturbing. Naturally, all possible efforts are made to avoid them.

In most cases, those who have been diagnosed with OCD realize that these thoughts are absurd. Still, they are practically inescapable, manifesting themselves in compulsive behavioral patterns and rituals.

Obsessions are typically characterized by the following categories:


  • The fear of being the reason that something horrible happening, like being robbed or accidentally starting a fire
  • The fear of causing an injury to someone because of not being careful enough


  • Environmental contaminants such as radiation or asbestos
  • Chemicals often found in households such as cleaning supplies
  • Variety of different germs and diseases
  • Dirt and other common outdoor liquids and objects

Loss of Control

  • The fear of randomly shouting insults and yelling at other people
  • The fear of getting the urge to steal things
  • The fear of snapping and becoming aggressive with others
  • The fear of acting on an impulse to harm others or themselves
  • The fear of getting terrifying or violent images stuck in their head

Perfectionist Obsessions

  • Inability to decide whether to keep or throw away certain things
  • The fear of losing or misplacing possessions
  • The fear of losing crucial information when discarding something
  • Getting overwhelmingly concerned about items being exact, precise, and evenly divided

Other Common Obsessions

  • Developing extremely superstitious thoughts about specific color schemes or ideas about lucky and unlucky numbers
  • Evergrowing concerns about contracting a disease or some other severe physical illness

Common OCD Obsessions

Compulsions are considered being the second part of obsessive-compulsive disorder symptoms. Compulsive behaviors provide relief of obsessive thoughts but only temporarily.

Individuals struggling with OCD usually recognize this as a temporary solution. But without any other solution, compulsions are often the first choice when trying to cope with their conditions.

Compulsions are typically characterized by the following categories:

Mental Compulsions

  • Always praying to prevent any harm or harsh consequences
  • Excessive habits of “undoing,” or “canceling” words and actions
  • Frequently reviewing past life events in the hope of preventing future harm to themselves or others
  • Keeping a count in their head while completing tasks to make sure that the last job is completed on a “safe” or “good” number


  • Repeating body movements such as blinking, touching, or tapping
  • Feeling the urge to re-write or re-read things over and over again
  • Duplicating motions and actions such as going up and down the stairs or opening and closing doors repeatedly
  • Repeating activities or tasks a number of times until there is a “good” or “safe” number to end on


  • Checking, again and again, to make sure nothing terrible has happened
  • Checking your work to make sure that no mistakes were made continually
  • Checking that something you did, did not hurt you or anyone else
  • Checking excessively on your body and overall physical condition

Constant Need for Washing and Cleaning

  • Cleaning around the house continuously and unnecessarily
  • Bathing, brushing teeth, grooming, and showering excessively
  • Washing hands excessively and often in unique ways

Treatment Options for OCD

There is no one treatment plan that can cure OCD. However, the majority of people who get treatment for their OCD respond positively and are able to better manage their symptoms.

Improvement through treatment such as individual therapy or group therapies is gradual. Some people may need intensive outpatient programs for a longer period of time than others depending on the severity of the illness.

It’s urgent that people with OCD seek help early on as early diagnosis and treatment minimize the severity of the illness. Unfortunately, there is usually a long delay before people with OCD seek treatment, worsening their conditions.

Our Orange County mental health center uses the following treatments seen to be effective in treating OCD:


  • SSRIs — typically referred to as antidepressants, are first-line pharmacological options for treating OCD. Some antidepressants work better for OCD than others. You and your doctor may try a few before finding which works best for your symptoms.
  • Tricyclic antidepressants — such as clomipramine can also be effective in treating OCD, though they are not often used.
  • Antipsychotics — may be used in conjunction with antidepressants for what is known as augmentation therapy. This combination of medications can be useful for changing thinking patterns, especially when used alongside psychotherapy.


psychotherapy session
  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) — helps patients understand their thought patterns better. With better understanding and coping mechanisms, patients can replace problematic thoughts and behaviors with healthy ones.
  • Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP)a form of CBT that carefully exposes patients to triggering situations, allowing them to practice better reactions to provoking stimulus.
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) — leverages mindfulness and acceptive strategies to make a person more psychologically flexible. This helps patients relieves themselves of rigid thoughts and behaviors by providing them a new context to given circumstances.

Get OCD Treatment in California

OCD doesn’t have to get in the way of your life. Our talented treatment team at Southern California Sunrise Recovery Mental Health Center in Orange County understands the challenges you or your loved one face daily.

We understand how difficult it is to break intrusive thoughts and know that they don’t define you. The caring staff of psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists at our Orange County Mental Health Treatment Center will be able to guide you or your loved one through every concern.

Call today and our admission specialists will gladly answer any question you may have and discuss our process.

Frequently Asked Questions

One of the most effective treatments for OCD is a type of CBT treatment called Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) and antidepressants or selective reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). 

The four types of OCD include contamination, perfection, doubt/harm and forbidden thoughts. 

With all forms of mental illness, there is no sole cure for OCD.  Medication and psychotherapies are known to lessen the symptoms of OCD and help the individual manage.  

Excessive-double checking of things, like locks, appliances and switches or constantly checking in with family members to see if they are okay.  Other small behaviors include, counting, tapping, repeating certain words, or doing other senseless things to reduce anxiety. 

Clinically Reviewed By:

Joe Cavins, LMFT

Joseph Cavins holds a Bachelor of Science in Human Services from Cal State Fullerton and a Master of Science in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine Graduate School of Education and Psychology. Initially inspired during his tenure as a school bus driver, Joseph balanced his duties with his studies, demonstrating a strong commitment to his academic pursuits. Post-graduation, he gained significant experience in clinical settings, interning at Aspen Community Services where he later served for 10 years, eventually becoming a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. He also earned certification from the Equine Assisted Psychotherapy Association as a Mental Health Provider.

Joseph’s professional journey includes roles in private practice and contracting with the Santa Ana Unified School District’s Special Education Department, culminating in his recent position at Southern California Sunrise Recovery in 2024.