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How coping skills can help patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder

A new study has revealed that obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) sufferers need to adopt adaptive coping skills which can help them deal with problematic situations.

fitness Updated: Mar 17, 2018 14:50 IST
Asian News International
OCD is a complex psychological condition, and those who suffer from it experience severe reduction in their quality of life.
OCD is a complex psychological condition, and those who suffer from it experience severe reduction in their quality of life.(Shutterstock)

A new study has revealed that obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) sufferers need to adopt adaptive coping skills. The new research led by Steffen Moritz of the University Hospital Hamburg in Germany showed that coping skills were proven to be more helpful than the maladaptive strategies often used such as repetitive, compulsive actions or creating emotional distance from a situation, in order to effectively manage their condition.

OCD is a complex psychological condition, and those who suffer from it experience severe reduction in their quality of life. Moritz and his colleagues compared the behaviour of 60 patients suffering from OCD with 110 people with depression and 1,050 adults in a control group.

All participants completed anonymous online surveys in which their medical and psychological history was ascertained, along with their levels of compulsivity and ability to cope in specific situations. They answered a questionnaire that covered different adaptive and maladaptive coping styles that someone might use to deal with problematic situations.

The participants also responded to the Maladaptive and Adaptive Coping Styles Questionnaire (MAX) that Moritz and his colleagues recently developed. This questionnaire measures coping styles using three dimensions: maladaptive coping (such as thought suppression, rumination), adaptive coping (e.g. problem-solving, acceptance), and avoidance.

Participants gave information about coping strategies they adopt against their OCD symptoms such as problem-solving and rumination, as well as other coping styles that have only recently been adopted in therapy, such as acceptance and suppression.

Participants with OCD were found to possess more maladaptive coping skills than all others, including those suffering from depression. They also possessed fewer functional skills to help them cope and adapt. Those who lacked adaptive coping were also likely to have a resistance to symptoms, and poor insight about their condition.

“Patients with OCD are characterised by both more maladaptive coping and less adaptive coping relative to controls,” Moritz explained. “Coping skills are important for many aspects of daily life beyond mental health. Teaching children skills such as how to cope with bullying at school, poor performance or problems with their parents, for example, in the framework of general cognitive preventative treatment and resilience training in school, may help children to better deal with emotional turmoil and challenging situations during adolescence. It may also prevent the progression of a vulnerability to later obsessive-compulsive disorder or depression as well as other disorders,” said Moritz.

The findings from the study are published in the journal Cognitive Therapy and Research.

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