Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) affects men, women and children, and can develop at any age. OCD is a mental health condition in which a person has obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours.
OCD becomes a problem when it significantly interferes with your daily life.
Although the condition is multi-faceted, it is defined ultimately by obsessive and compulsive behaviours:
- An obsession is an unwanted and unpleasant thought, image or urge that repeatedly enters your mind, causing feelings of anxiety, disgust or unease.
- A compulsion is a repetitive behaviour or mental act that you feel you need to carry out to try to temporarily relieve the unpleasant feelings brought on by the obsessive thought.
For example, someone’s obsessive fear of their house burning down may lead to the compulsive behaviour of checking the oven is turned off multiple times a day. This chain of actions can be divided into 4 main steps:
- Obsession: an unwanted and unpleasant thought, image or urge that repeatedly enters your mind, causing feelings of anxiety, disgust or unease.
- Anxiety: the obsession provokes a feeling of anxiety and distress.
- Compulsion: a repetitive behaviour or mental act that you feel you need to carry out to try to temporarily relieve the unpleasant feelings brought on by the obsessive thought.
- Temporary relief: when the compulsive behaviour temporarily relieves the anxiety caused by the obsession. However, the obsession and anxiety soon return which repeats the cycle.
Some common obsessions experienced by people with OCD are:
- Fear of purposefully hurting yourself or others
- Fear of hurting yourself or others by mistake
- Fear of disease, infection or contact with an unpleasant substance
- A need for symmetry and order
It is important to remember that although you may have obsessive thoughts that are particularly violent or sexual in nature, it does not mean that you’ll act on them.
Common Compulsive Behaviours
Some common compulsive behaviours experienced by people with OCD are:
- Cleaning and hand washing
- Checking – such as checking doors are locked or that the gas is off
- Ordering and arranging
- Asking for reassurance
- Repeating words in their head
- Thinking “neutralising” thoughts to counter the obsessive thoughts
- Avoiding places and situations that could trigger obsessive thoughts
It is normal for people with OCD to feel ashamed or embarrassed about seeking help. However, Ahmeys healthcare professionals are committed to providing a safe and understanding space for you to talk about your concerns. OCD is unlikely to get better without intervention, so treatment and support are vital to helping manage your symptoms and give you a better quality of life.
An Ahmeys healthcare professional may suggest two ways for you to get help:
- Help you refer yourself to a psychological therapies service.
- Refer you to your GP to discuss medication. An antidepressant medication, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), can help by altering the balance of chemicals in your brain.
Psychological therapies can help you almost immediately, but SSRIs can take several months before you notice any effects.
If you feel you may be suffering Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, visit an Ahmeys healthcare professional now.