OCD (OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE DISORDER)

WHAT IS OCD?

OCD is a form of anxiety disorder that can have a significant impact on our day-to-day lives. Obsessions are unwelcome thoughts or images that repeatedly appear in your mind and that you feel unable to control. Compulsions are the activities that you carry out to reduce the anxiety caused by the obsessive thought or image. The compulsion can have a direct link to the thought: extreme handwashing due to a fear of contamination. Still, it may also be a seem unconnected: tapping the bed seven times before getting up otherwise something terrible will happen.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF OCD?

Many of us experience minor obsessions such as worrying about whether we have locked the front door, or left the gas on, but they do not prevent us from getting on with our day-to-day lives. You may also notice that the symptoms become worse when you are under stress. Symptoms will vary, and you may have all, some or just one of them:

  • Changing schedules to allow for repeating compulsions or you are often late due to not being able to leave the house until certain rituals are completed.
  • Tired and struggle to concentrate.
  • Hiding behaviours from others and avoid situations that make you feel anxious
  • Being scared by obsessive thoughts, that can be violent or sexual.
  • Repeating certain actions in an attempt to neutralise obsessive thoughts.
  • Realising that your behaviours make no rational sense, but you can’t stop ‘just in case.’
  • Feeling tense, anxious, fearful, guilty or disgusted by your thoughts.
  • Carrying out a ritual or behaviour provides some relief, but it doesn’t last long.

WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF OCD?

  • Childhood experiences such as trauma, bullying or abuse may lead to OCD, using obsessions and compulsions to manage anxiety.
  • Obsession and compulsions can be learnt, especially if parents carry out these behaviours as a coping technique
  • Persistent anxiety and stress may cause OCD to help reduce these feelings
  • Some research has suggested that certain personality traits may make developing OCD more likely such as being a clean and meticulous person
  • Genetic factors may increase an individuals chance of having OCD.

HOW COMMON IS OCD?

In the UK, it is predicted that 1.2% of people will experience OCD in their lifetime. The onset of OCD after 35 is rare. OCD is more prevalent in women than in men.

HOW CAN I MANAGE OCD?

  • Make a record of triggers that cause obsessive thoughts in your daily life. By tracking triggers, you can be more prepared for a response and ease your compulsive actions.
  • Write down your obsessive thoughts and give yourself time to challenge them by asking if they are real or if there is a better way of looking at things. By confronting your thoughts, it can help you feel less anxious.
  • Stress can trigger or make symptoms worse, so it is important to manage them. Talking to others, regular exercise and mediation can all be good ways to reduce stress.
  • These self-help techniques may reduce anxiety, but they may not be enough to be able to function normally. Getting help from a professional may be a more suitable approach to treat OCD.

WHAT ARE THE TREATMENTS OF OCD?

BENEFITS OF TREATING OCD

  • Breaking down your problems into thoughts, physical feelings and actions. Learn how they connect and influence each other.
  • Challenge your obsessive thoughts and be able to rationalise your thoughts.
  • Learn how to complete activities without carrying out compulsive behaviours.
  • Build a toolbox of coping strategies that help to relax you when you start to feel anxious.
  • Face your fears by doing a task that may make you anxious and learn how to manage your anxiety by using the toolbox.
  • Begin to understand how and why OCD developed.

WHERE CAN I GO FOR HELP?

Book an appointment with the GP. They will discuss the issues that you are facing and direct to services with the NHS that can provide you with the support that you require.

Some charities also provide support. OCD UK provides a helpline, support groups and a discussion forum for people with OCD. Local Minds offer talking therapies, helplines, drop-in centres, counselling and befriending for lots of mental health problems including OCD.

HOW CAN SELECT PSYCHOLOGY HELP WITH OCD?

Select Psychology offers a wide of therapies to address obsessive compulsive disorder and gives you the tools to cope and understand your emotions. We are a private mental health service with highly trained therapists and no waiting lists.

This is how therapy would work:

Step 1 – Get in touch:  The first step is recognising you have an issue and seeking help –  Book a free telephone consultation and start the process by providing a space and time to share your needs with us.

OCD therapy

Step 2 – Telephone Consultation: You will be heard and understood through a confidential phone conversation. Often called the ‘triage’ this is where you can share more about your needs, and we can advise on therapy pathways and provide initial guidance where possible.

Step 3 – Appointment Offer: We will match your needs with the best fit practitioner for your therapy pathway and offer you an appointment within two weeks.

Step 4 – Initial Assessment: Before you begin a course of therapy, your therapist will need to conduct an assessment in order agree a course of therapy with you that will best help you and address your goals. This is still part of the therapeutic process and will provide you with a better understanding of your difficulties and how you may start to approach them.

Step 5 – Your Therapy: Following on from your assessment, you will move onto therapy. Appointments are 50 minutes – these can be anything from weekly to monthly, depending on your individual circumstances. The number of sessions required to feel better will depend on your needs and therapy plan, this can range between 8-16 sessions, but in general more time is needed to address more complex issues.

Step 6 – Feeling Better: As you start to improve, you can agree on changes to the frequency of sessions as required. Ultimately, there will be a time when both you and your therapist agree that you no longer need to continue in active therapy.

FAQ

1. What are the types of OCD?

OCD presents itself differently in every individual with OCD. Traditionally there are five main types, checking, contamination, hoarding, rumination/ intrusive thoughts and symmetry/ ordering.

2. What is Pure O?

Pure O stands for Pure Obsessions. People experience intrusive thoughts but no external compulsions. Instead, the compulsions are mental such as repeating phrases or numbers in your head or checking bodily sensations.

3. What is the best treatment for OCD?

CBT is the most frequently used treatment for OCD. However, there are other treatments out there that might be more suitable for you. The best way to know is to start treatment and see how it works for you. There is nothing wrong with changing treatment type or therapist if you feel like it does not feel like an appropriate fit.

4. Can someone with OCD have a messy room?

Yes. For some people with OCD they focus on keeping things clean and ordered (although, where they want to keep clean will vary and may not even be in their home). In contrast, others deal with intrusive thoughts or ritualistic behaviour that has nothing to do with keeping their room clean.

5. What happens if OCD is left untreated?

Symptoms of OCD can worsen if they are not treated. This is why it is essential to get help to manage the symptoms and reduce the obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours experienced.

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USEFUL LINKS

OCD UK

Local Mind