What is Obsessive-Compulsive disorder?
Quite often, people make comments about “having OCD”, usually when they have a specific or particular way of doing things. Everyone has intrusive or distressing thoughts occasionally, however they generally pass with time. It is easy to be blasé about this disorder due to its representation in popular media, however it has severe impact on those living with it.
Obsessive compulsive disorder is a form of anxiety disorder that involves either obsessions or compulsions. Rather than the source of anxiety being an external cause (for example, fear of being judged by others in social anxiety), the feared thing is actually the person’s own obsessions and compulsions, and the consequences of not satisfying certain rituals to avoid these thoughts.
Obsessions are intrusive thoughts which the person affected tries to avoid. Compulsions are thoughts or actions taken to avoid these thoughts. Unfortunately, these obsessions and compulsions take up a significant amount of time and energy, and impact regular activities such as social life, work, school, and personal care.
Our practice utilises evidence-based systems, aimed at providing positive outcomes for those looking to reduce the impact of such disorders. We offer an initial matching session to find a suitable and supportive psychologist, specialised in treatments for obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Signs of OCD
Some signs of OCD can include:
- Irrational, recurring, persistent thoughts that cause distress and anxiety
- Attempts to suppress these thoughts
- Repetitive behaviours such as hand washing, switching lights on and off a specific number of times, tapping objects, or rearranging; or mental behaviours such as counting and checklists.
- Feeling as if these behaviours will reduce the distress experienced.
- Rigid mental rules regarding enforcing these thoughts and behaviours.
What can cause Obsessive-Compulsive disorder?
It is generally thought that OCD has similar causes to generalised anxiety, that is, personal, genetic, and situational factors. OCD is the focusing of anxiety on a particular intrusive thought.
Thinking style is also a contributing factor due to what is called thought-action fusion. That is, the belief that thinking about something makes it reality. That is, a person who has repetitive thoughts about their house burning down may believe that their action of tapping the fire extinguisher 10 times before they leaves the house actually prevents the house burning down.
- Keeping a log of your intrusive thoughts and behaviours to increase awareness.
- Grounding exercises to decrease distress and anxiety, including deep breathing and mindfulness.
- Seeking an appropriate psychologist to guide you through a recovery program.
Our psychologists at Psychology Melbourne are trained in various psychological techniques, which are highly effective in reducing the negative impact of OCD. Some treatment methods are similar to those used for anxiety, in particular Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy. Working with a professional through your intrusive thoughts and addressing any unhelpful compulsions can be a helpful first step.
Another technique used specifically for OCD is exposure and ritual prevention (ERP), which involves gradually preventing compulsive behaviours, which exposes the person to the feared situation (lack of “protective” behaviour), allowing them to check their reality and realise that harm will not result if compulsive rituals are not conducted.
Support programs and group therapies can also be helpful.