New research suggests that people with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) tend to resort to poorly adapted coping strategies such as rumination and thought suppression. Even if adaptive coping skills like acceptance and problem solving could improve their quality of life.
Unfortunately, many OCD patients tend to miss these adaptive coping skills during the illness, according to a new German study published in the journal Cognitive Therapy and Research.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a complex mental illness in which the patient experiences persistent unwanted thoughts and high levels of anxiety. The disorder can severely impair the quality of life.
For the study, the researchers compared the behavior of 60 patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder with a group of 110 people with depression and a control group of 1,050 adults. All participants completed anonymous online surveys in which they reported their medical and psychological history, as well as their compulsiveness and their ability to deal with certain situations.
Participants also completed a questionnaire covering various adaptive and maladaptive coping styles that could be used to deal with difficult situations.
Participants also completed the maladaptive and adaptive coping styles (MAX) questionnaire recently developed by the researchers. This questionnaire measures coping styles based on three dimensions: maladjustment (thought suppression, rumination), adaptive coping (problem solving, acceptance), and avoidance.
Participants shared information about the coping strategies they are using against their OCD, such as problem solving and rumination, as well as other coping styles that have recently been used in therapy, such as acceptance and suppression.
People with obsessive-compulsive disorder were found to have more mismatching skills than any other participant, including those suffering from depression. They also had fewer functional abilities to cope with and adapt. Those who lacked adaptive coping skills were more likely to have poor insight into their condition and resistance to symptoms.
As the study director Dr. Steffen Moritz from the University Hospital Hamburg in Germany said:
Patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder are characterized by both poorly adapted coping and less adaptive coping compared to controls. Coping skills are important to many aspects of daily life beyond mental health.
Teaching skills to children such as dealing with bullying in school, poor performance or problems with their parents, for example as part of general cognitive prevention treatment and resilience training in school, can help children better deal with emotional turmoil and challenging situations during puberty.
It can also prevent susceptibility to later obsessive-compulsive disorder or depression, as well as other disorders.
Although the results highlight some of the skills that patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder lack, Moritz says more research is needed to determine how improving such coping skills during childhood and adolescence through cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or similar interventions can actually improve an obsessive-compulsive disorder’s skills Life quality.
This guest article appeared on PsychCentral.com: Many OCD Patients Have a tendency to use poor coping strategies and was originally published on Psych Central by Traci Pedersen.
S. Moritz, J. Fink, F. Miegel, K. Nitsche, V. Kraft, P. Tonn & L. Jelinek (2018). Obsessive-compulsive disorder is characterized by a lack of adaptive coping rather than an excess of maladaptive coping. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 1–11. doi: 10.1007 / s10608-018-9902-0
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