Many people suffer from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). As the name suggests, those who have OCD experience obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours. It is a form of anxiety disorder which is characterised by uncontrollable, unwanted thoughts and ritualised, repetitive behaviours that the sufferer feels compelled to perform. The disorder can affect everyone – men, women and even children. It can manifest around puberty, however, it typically starts during early adulthood. OCD can impact daily living and can be extremely distressing to live with.
Those who suffer with it tend to obsess over an unwanted and unpleasant thought, image or urge that repeatedly enters their mind. As you can imagine, this leads to feelings of anxiety, disgust or unease. The ‘compulsive’ part of the disorder refers to a behaviour or act that the sufferer feels like they need to do to relieve the unpleasant feelings brought on by the obsessive thought. For example, they may have a fear of a house fire, so feel like they must check that they have turned the hob off 20 times before going to bed. Whilst it’s normal to check that you’ve turned everything off, the obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours are not, and can be so consuming that they interfere with daily life.
Those who have OCD likely understand that their thoughts and behaviours are irrational, but are still unable to resist them and break the habit.
Most people with OCD fall into one of these five categories:
- WASHERS. Typically worried about contamination and usually have cleaning or hand-washing compulsions.
- CHECKERS. Feel the need to check things repeatedly.
- DOUBTERS AND SINNERS. Those in this group are scared that if everything isn’t perfect that something bad will happen.
- COUNTERS AND ARRANGERS. Obsessed with order and symmetry. It is likely they have superstitions about certain numbers, colours or arrangements.
- HOARDERS. Fearful that something bad will happen if they throw anything away. They may experience other disorders such as depression, PTSD, compulsive buying, kleptomania, ADHD, skin picking or tics.
Whilst OCD can be debilitating and distressing, it can be treated effectively. The main treatments are:
- Psychological therapy. This is typically cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) which works by helping the sufferer to face their fears and obsessive thoughts without feeling the need to ‘put them right’ with compulsive actions.
- Medication. Typically a form of antidepressant called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) which alter the balance of chemicals in the brain.
CBT tends to have a quicker effect as it can take a few months to notice the effect of SSRIs. Many people also are treated with a combination of the two.
If you are suffering with OCD and would like support in eliminating your compulsive thoughts and obsessive behaviours, get in touch with Dalton Wise today.
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