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What is OCD?

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a psychological condition whereby the person’s brain functions differently to a normal brain. As a result, the individual experiences obsessive thoughts and performs compulsive behaviour to mitigate these thoughts. Underlying these thoughts are huge amounts of anxiety that feels very overwhelming. The thoughts cannot be controlled and are not wanted however the individual is not able to stop them. Despite them realising that the thoughts are not justified or rational, they are not able to let things go. The difference between an obsessive personality and someone with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is that the former is able to draw the line, their behaviour doesn’t prevent them from living a fulfilling life. For the latter, they cannot stop the thoughts and the actions that mitigate them, even if they are causing their life to become dysfunctional. For someone suffering from OCD, their brain is constantly signalling that they are in danger. It is like being in fight or flight mode, constantly.

 

Signs and symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessions thoughts

  • Fear of contamination
  • Fear of harm
  • Unwanted sexual thoughts
  • Religious obsession
  • Fear of contamination
  • Fear of losing control
  • Need for perfectionism

 

Compulsive behaviours

  • Ritualistic cleaning and washing
  • Checking
  • Repeating
  • Mental compulsions
  • Other compulsions

 

Treatment approaches

Either medication or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or a combination of the two has been proven to be effective when treating OCD. Research shows that for some suffering, they respond well to medication that enhances serotonin uptake. The strand of CBT that is effective is Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). In this the individual is gradually and gently challenged to do perform feats that they would previously have avoided for fear of danger. The CBT therapist helps them to find alternative ways of reacting other than the usual avoidant way. The more that one doesn’t give in to the usual behaviour, the more the anxiety reduces over time. For someone suffering from OCD, their brain is constantly signalling that they are in danger. It is like being in fight or flight mode, constantly. The more that the usual compulsive behaviour is not performed, new neural pathways are formed and the anxiety reduces. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) has also been shown to have some success in treating OCD.

Psymplicity Healthcare approach

We are able to provide a comprehensive and holistic service, taking into account all your needs to give you the best chance of success. It is possible to see a consultant psychiatrist for a thorough assessment and medication will be prescribed if necessary. Our expert psychologists can work collaboratively to coordinate a treatment plan that includes cognitive behavioural therapy alongside medication. As the CBT starts to work, you might look at ways, if you wish, that you can decrease the medication. You will always be in control of your treatment and will undertake it at your own pace.

 

 

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