OCD

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder dominated by obsessions (intrusive thoughts and images) and compulsions (rituals, urges and behavioural responses to the thoughts)

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder affects approximately 4% of the population and it equally affects both men and women. One third of adults with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder report having experienced their first symptoms as children. Some people live with OCD for years and hide it from others before it interferes with their life so much that they eventually decide to ask for help.

Many people with OCD feel very responsible for preventing a terrible thing from happening (e.g. I must keep bacteria away from my family otherwise they might become ill or die and it will be my fault”). Others do not have these catastrophic thoughts, but might feel very uncomfortable and become increasingly anxious and distressed if they don’t do what their head is telling them to do.

Compulsions can be ‘overt’ or obvious behaviours (cleaning, touching, moving things), or ‘covert’ hidden mental rituals such as counting, repeating things, questioning or checking. A few people only experience obsessions, and a small minority only compulsions.

 

Common Obsessions and Compulsions

There are patterns in behaviour or types of intrusive thoughts. Some of the more common obsessions are:

  • Fear of preventing harm – e.g. worrying that the hob or hair straighteners have been left on
  • Imagining doing harm – e.g. worrying that you will hurt or harm someone
  • Intrusive sexual thoughts – e.g. worrying about abusing a child or partner
  • Religious or blasphemous thoughts – e.g. having thoughts or urges against your religion
  • Fear of contamination – e.g. from dirt or germs on public transport
  • A need for symmetry or order – e.g. feeling uncomfortable if objects are out of place
  • Illness or physical symptoms – e.g. worrying about having cancer despite having no symptoms

When these thoughts repeat themselves, sufferers behave in ways to ‘check’ or put things right to find some relief from the intrusive thoughts. This behaviour can include:

  • Repeating actions – e.g. checking the oven several times before leaving the house
  • Touching – e.g. having to touch things a certain number of times before proceeding
  • Focusing on a number – e.g. feeling safe if items are arranged in numbers or processes are repeated a certain number of times
  • Washing or cleaning excessively – e.g. washing hands excessively after being on public transport
  • Checking – e.g. reading through a message several times before sending
  • Ordering or arranging objects – e.g. keeping items arranged symmetrically throughout the house
  • Repeating certain words – e.g. repeating someone’s name to prevent anything bad happening from them
  • Disordered eating – e.g. only eating items beginning with a certain ‘safe’ letter or in a certain colour
  • Bargaining – e.g. doing x so that the worry doesn’t happen
  • Avoidance – e.g. avoiding objects or experiences that make the worries worse
  • Skin picking
  • Hair plucking
  • Nail biting
  • Counting – e.g. counting footsteps from one place to another

Once a behaviour provides relief, it is repeated every time those thoughts appear – this can lead to overvalued ideas, or the idea that the behaviour genuinely prevents the thought from happening.

A lot of healthy people can identify with some Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder symptoms, such as checking if the door is locked when going to bed or leaving home, or double checking to make sure the oven is off. People with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, however, spend hours and hours doing this, and are very frustrated and distressed because it interferes with their daily life.

Most people with OCD recognise that what they are doing is wrong, but they feel they can’t stop themselves. Some people, however, don’t recognise that their behaviour is out of the ordinary.

 

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder can come and go over time, as well as it can ease or get worse with age. 

Depression, panic disorder and phobias often co-occur with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

Therapy for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Therapy for OCD focusses on a range of items, such as identifying triggers, patterns  in behaviour, exposure therapy and eliminating anxiety before it turns into compulsive behaviours. Treatment is very successful, with people reducing their symptoms and to completely curing their OCD and return to a good quality of life.

Our unique AES program is the ultimate recovery tool. Its straightforward, easy to implement and understand. It is also available here to purchase and use as a self help program with support.

 

CBT is another option as we are CBT specialists. We can discuss your options, either way we will help you recover as long as you follow what we tell you, there’s no reason why you wouldn’t make a full recovery.
As with all anxiety disorders OCD is fully resolvable with the right help.

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