What is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?
OCD is an anxiety disorder that involves people experiencing repetitive and distressing unwanted thoughts, images and impulses (ie, ‘I’m contaminated’ or ‘I’ve caused something to go horribly wrong’). In order to neutralise these thoughts (and the associated anxiety) people with OCD will engage in ‘safety’ behaviours, which can include things such as washing their hands, counting up to a certain number, or avoiding feared situations. People with OCD are usually aware that their thoughts and behaviour are excessive and do not make sense, and they can feel a sense of shame associated with their OCD. However these behaviours feel compulsive and impossible to resist.
What causes OCD?
OCD often has hereditary links, however it can also arise from periods of high stress. For instance, young people can develop OCD when they feel their life is out of control, and OCD becomes a way of coping with a feeling of chaos and lack of control.
How is OCD treated?
Treatment involves several stages. The first stage is to develop a general understanding of OCD, and to know the specific thoughts and compulsions for the person with OCD. Once there is a good understanding regarding OCD, the psychologist provides a supportive environment to help people face feared situations, and challenge difficult thoughts (at a pace that feels manageable). Therapy can also involve relaxation and other helpful strategies. Medication can be used to help reduce the severity of OCD thoughts, compulsions and associated anxiety. Most people who receive ongoing treatment for OCD find their symptoms decrease significantly, and are more able to fully engage in life.
How Seed Psychology can help you
Several of our psychologists are skilled and experienced in OCD treatment. We provide a non-judgmental and understanding environment in-session, and are focused on helping you to manage symptoms and overcome the challenges associated with OCD. We are committed to helping you improve your wellbeing and quality of life.
Written by Dr Owen Spear, Clinical Psychologist at Seed Psychology