I have helped people through may crises, both real and imagined. I take pride in helping people navigate difficult situations as a professional. But I have never had to do OCD therapy in the middle of a pandemic! So what do you do if you're suffering from OCD or health anxiety amid the COVID-19 outbreak? As I just discussed in a video on you YouTube channel, we can treat this like many other OCD triggers in a way that is both safe and effective.
First, when doing exposure therapy I always suggest that my patients have a goal for their exposures. If I have a patient trying to reduce checking, I will ask them to know their plan before they get in front of their trigger. Then, I will tell them to expect OCD to through them a curveball and "pull" them to do just one check. They will then hopefully remember and keep in line with their plan, reducing checking and moving on with their day.
Coronavirus is much the same; we have guidelines from the CDC about appropriate steps we need to take to protect ourselves and others. We should plan to be in line with those suggestions whether or not we have OCD! Once someone with OCD goes out into the world and potentially comes in contact with the virus, they should take CDC-recommended action (e.g., 20 second hand wash; appropriate social distance). During this action they should expect OCD to "pull" them to do just one more wash, or just a little more distance or avoidance. They can then make the choice to do what has been recommended, no more, and move on with their day. In this way, we stay safe and we challenge the urges that OCD gives to us.
If you would like more information about dealing with COVID-19 with OCD, please reach out at any time, or contact your healthcare provider.