Do you have OCD? Does it affect your day to day life? Would you like help? Here is some useful information you will find helpful.
What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder??
Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health condition where a person has obsessive thoughts and compulsive activity. An obsession is an unwanted and unpleasant thought, image or urge that repeatedly enters a person’s mind, causing feelings of anxiety, disgust or unease. A compulsion is a repetitive behaviour or mental act that someone feels they need to carry out to try to temporarily relieve the unpleasant feelings brought on by the obsessive thought. For example, someone with a fear of their house being burgled may feel they need to check all the windows and doors are locked several times before they can leave the house. OCD symptoms can range from mild to severe. Some people with OCD may spend an hour or so a day engaged in obsessive-compulsive thinking and behaviour, but for others the condition can completely take over their life.
OCD affects people differently, but usually causes a particular pattern of thought and behaviour.
This pattern has four main steps:
- Obsession – where an unwanted, intrusive and often distressing thought, image or urge repeatedly enters your mind
- Anxiety – the obsession provokes a feeling of intense anxiety or distress
- Compulsion – repetitive behaviours or mental acts that you feel driven to perform as a result of the anxiety and distress caused by the obsession
- Temporary Relief – the compulsive behaviour brings temporary relief from anxiety, but the obsession and anxiety soon return, causing the cycle to begin again
Almost everyone has unpleasant or unwanted thoughts at some point in their life, such as a concern that they may have forgotten to lock the door of the house or that they may contract a disease from touching other people, or even sudden unwelcome violent or offensive mental images.
Most people are able to put these types of thoughts and concerns into context, and they can carry on with their day-to-day life. They do not repeatedly think about worries they know have little substance.
However, if you have a persistent, unwanted and unpleasant thought that dominates your thinking to the extent it interrupts other thoughts, you may have developed an obsession.
Some common obsessions that affect people with OCD include:
- Fear of deliberately harming yourself or others – for example, fear you may attack someone else, even though this type of behaviour disgusts you
- Fear of harming yourself or others by mistake or accident – for example, fear you may set the house on fire by accidentally leaving the cooker on
- Fear of contamination by disease, infection or an unpleasant substance
- A need for symmetry or orderliness – for example, you may feel the need to ensure all the labels on the tins in your cupboard face the same way
Compulsions arise as a way of trying to reduce or prevent the harm of the obsessive thought. However, this behaviour is either excessive or not realistically connected at all.
For example, a person who fears becoming contaminated with dirt and germs may wash their hands repeatedly throughout the day, or someone with a fear of causing harm to their family may have the urge to repeat an action multiple times to try to “neutralise” the thought of harm. This latter type of compulsive behaviour is particularly common in children with OCD.
Most people with OCD realise that such compulsive behaviour is irrational and makes no logical sense, but they cannot stop acting on their compulsion.
Some common types of compulsive behaviour that affect people with OCD include:
- Cleaning and hand washing
- Checking – such as checking doors are locked, or that the gas or a tap is off
- Ordering and arranging
- Asking for reassurance
- Repeating words silently
- Extensively “overthinking” to ensure the feared consequence of the obsession does not occur – for example, if you fear you may act violently
- Thinking “neutralising” thoughts to counter the obsessive thoughts
- Avoiding places and situations that could trigger obsessive thoughts
Not all compulsive behaviours will be obvious to other people.
What causes OCD?
It’s not clear exactly what causes OCD, although a number of factors have been suggested.
In some cases, the condition may run in families, and may be linked to certain inherited genes that affect the brain’s development. Brain imaging studies have shown the brains of some people with OCD can be different from the brains of people who do not have the condition. For example, there may be increased activity in certain areas of the brain, particularly those that deal with strong emotions and the responses to them. Studies have also shown people with OCD have an imbalance of serotonin in their brain. Serotonin is a chemical the brain uses to transmit information from one brain cell to another.
Despite much research being carried out into obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), the exact cause of the condition has not yet been identified. However, a number of different factors that may play a role in the condition have been suggested. These are described below.
Genetics is thought to play a part in some cases of OCD. Research suggests OCD may be the result of certain inherited genes that affect the development of the brain.
Although no specific genes have been linked to OCD, there is some evidence that suggests a person with OCD is more likely to have another family member with the condition compared with someone who does not have OCD.
However, it is possible there may sometimes be other reasons for this. For example, it has been suggested some people may “learn” OCD as a result of witnessing other family members with the condition.
Brain imaging studies have shown some people with OCD have differences in certain parts of their brain, including increased activity and blood flow, and a lack of the brain chemical serotonin.
The areas of the brain affected deal with strong emotions and how we respond to those emotions. In the studies, brain activity returned to normal after successful treatment with cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
Serotonin may play a part in OCD. This brain chemical transmits information from one brain cell to another and is known as a neurotransmitter. Serotonin is responsible for regulating a number of the body’s functions, including mood, anxiety, memory and sleep. It is not known for sure how serotonin contributes to OCD, but some people with the condition appear to have decreased levels of the chemical in their brain. Medication that increases the levels of serotonin in the brain, such as certain types of antidepressant, have proven effective in treating OCD.
OCD may be more common in people with a history of having experienced emotional, physical or sexual abuse, neglect, social isolation, teasing or bullying. An important life event, such as a bereavement, family break-up, a new job, pregnancy or childbirth, may also trigger OCD in people who already have a tendency to develop the condition – for example, because of genetic factors – and may affect the course of the condition. For example, the death of a loved one may trigger a fear that someone in your family will be harmed. Stress seems to make the symptoms of OCD worse, but does not cause OCD on its own.
People with certain personality traits may be more likely to have OCD. For example, if you are a neat, meticulous, methodical person with high standards – a “perfectionist” – you may be more likely to develop the condition. OCD may also be a result of simply being more prone to becoming tense and anxious than most people, or having a very strong sense of responsibility for yourself and others.
Who Does It Effect?
It’s estimated around 12 in every 1,000 people in the UK are affected by the condition. This equates to almost 750,000 people. OCD affects men, women and children. The condition typically first starts to significantly interfere with a person’s life during early adulthood, although problems can develop at any age. OCD effects men, women and children regardless of their race, religion, nationality, age, gender or socio-economic group.
- OCD is considered to be the fourth most common mental illness worldwide
- 2% of the population in the UK have OCD (12 out of every 1,000 people)
- Approximately 741,504 people are living with OCD in the UK at one time
- 50% of cases of OCD will fall into the severe category with only a quarter being mild cases
- 2-3% of the UK population visiting their GP will be visiting because of OCD
- Around one in fifty of us will have OCD at some stage in our lives
- A third to a half of all people who suffer from OCD began noticing obsessive traits during childhood and a fractional percentage as early as pre-school
- New cases of OCD after the age of 40 are uncommon
- The average person will go 6-9 years before seeking any form of treatment for OCD
Examples of People with OCD
All of the above personal stories were shared on – http://www.ocdaction.org.uk/
How Can it be Treated?
With treatment, the outlook for OCD is good. Many people will eventually be cured of their OCD, or their symptoms will at least be reduced enough that they can enjoy a good quality of life.
The main treatments for OCD are:
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) – involving a therapy known as graded exposure with response prevention (ERP), which encourages you to face your fear and let the obsessive thoughts occur without “neutralising” them with compulsions
- Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) – this medication can help reduce your symptoms by altering the balance of chemicals in your brain
If these treatments aren’t effective or your condition is particularly severe, you may need to be referred to a specialist mental health service for treatment.
The AOC can help you if you are a sufferer of OCD. We have a team of highly skilled, professional counsellors and associate therapists to help you through with the use of dramatherapy. Dramatherapy can be offered in group sessions, one-to-one or with family therapy depending on your own preference. We will match you to our best suited therapist/counsellor to help you with your OCD. All our counselling is strictly confidential and nothing said in the therapy space will leave the room. Group therapy is popular with OCD sufferers as they will be in a room with people who deal with the same problems and they can share all the information they would like and also get feedback from others.
If you would like to receive counselling from The AOC please fill out on of our online referral forms and send to firstname.lastname@example.org You will have a choice of 3 different types of referral forms;
- For individuals or couples
- Family referral form
- Group referral form
Please select the referral form most suited to you i.e. if you would like group therapy, fill out the group referral form.
Simply click the following link to find out more information and complete one of our referral forms:
We provide our clients with high-quality, evidence based expertise in the form of personal therapy and counselling. To help anyone suffering with any type of eating disorder. The AOC offer two main forms of treatment in the forms of dramatherapy and integrative counselling.
Creative Arts Therapies (drama, art, movement, music therapy or psychodrama)
Dramatherapy is a form of psychological therapy/psychotherapy in which all of the performance arts are utilised within the therapeutic relationship. Dramatherapy addresses a wide range of personal and emotional difficulties. Clients who are referred to a dramatherapist do not need to have previous experience or skill in acting, theatre or drama. Dramatherapists are trained to enable clients to find the most suitable medium for them to engage in group or individual therapy to address and resolve, or make troubling issues more bearable. Dramatherapists work in a wide variety of settings with people of all ages:
- In schools
- In mental health
- In general health and social care settings
- In prisons
- In hospices
- In the voluntary sector
- In private practice
Dramatherapists are both artists and clinicians and draw on their training’s in theatre, drama and therapy to create methods to engage clients in effecting psychological, emotional and social changes. The therapy gives equal validity to body and mind within the dramatic context; stories, myths, play-texts, puppetry, masks and improvisation are examples of the range of artistic interventions a dramatherapist may employ. These will enable the client to explore difficult and painful life experiences through a creative-expressive approach. Dramatherapists are vtrained in both psychological and arts-specific assessment and evaluation techniques. They are committed to generating practice-based evidence and deliver sound evidence-based practice.
The British Association of Dramatherapists (BADth)
Integrative therapy, or integrative counselling is a combined approach to psychotherapy that brings together different elements of specific therapies. Integrative therapists take the view that there is no single approach that can treat each client in all situations. Each person needs to be considered as a whole and counselling techniques must be tailored to their individual needs and personal circumstances.
Integrative counselling maintains the idea that there are many ways in which human psychology can be explored and understood – no one theory holds the answer. All theories are considered to have value, even if their foundational principles contradict each other – hence the need to integrate them.
The integrative approach also refers to the infusion of a person’s personality and needs – integrating the effective, behavioural, cognitive, and physiological systems within one person, as well as addressing social and spiritual aspects. Essentially, integrative counsellors are not only concerned with what works, but why it works – tailoring therapy to their clients and not the client to the therapy.
Top Health Tips
- Brush up on your OCD facts – Understanding that OCD is a type of anxiety disorder is a great first step to understanding how to overcome it.
- Understand your anxiety – Think about what situations make you anxious. Often when you have anxiety you know your fears are unrealistic but feel powerless to stop.
- Challenge yourself – Think about your fears and challenge them by asking yourself whether it is a realistic fear, whether you are confusing facts with thoughts whether your thoughts are accurate and what the disadvantages are of thinking that way. When you challenge your fears you open yourself up to finding new thought processes.
- Accept that OCD is interfering with your life – Acceptance is always the first step to proactive steps to beat your problem.
- Keep a journal – Write down your unwanted thoughts and what did/are going to do to combat them.
- Try to slowly cut back on your compulsive behaviours – An example of this could be, if you feel the need to check the oven is off 10 times, maybe try checking 8 times then progressively 6 times and so on.
- Talk to you doctor/therapist – If you are still struggling with OCD, talk to your doctor or therapist about other types of treatment or work closely with your therapist to create additional self-help strategies.