What is OCD?
Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common, but serious, mental health condition that can affect anyone, no matter what gender, age, or background.
It is characterised by obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are unwanted intrusive thoughts, doubts, images or urges that continuously enter a person’s mind. Compulsions are repetitive acts a person feels driven to perform.
OCD is also referred to as ‘the doubting disorder’ a lot of attention is given to thoughts and feelings. Psychotherapy works towards reducing distress and importantly reclaiming and redesigning a life outside of OCD. You can find out more about OCD online and in-person at home therapy, (London, national and international visits available) by making contact.
What are the symptoms?
Obsessions cause distress, anxiety and at times disgust as they go against the person’s values (ego dystonic) They are accepted as originating in the person’s mind and are unreasonable and excessive. Some individual’s obsessions are regarded as overvalued ideas, more rarely a person can also experience delusions (Veale, 2002)
The most common obsessions include the prevention of harm to the self or others resulting from contamination (e.g. dirt, germs, bodily fluids or faeces, dangerous chemicals) the prevention of harm resulting from making a mistake (e.g. a door not being locked) intrusive religious or blasphemous thoughts intrusive sexual thoughts (e.g. of being a paedophile) intrusive thoughts of violence or aggression (e.g. of stabbing one’s baby) the need for order or symmetry.
Compulsions are also known as safety-seeking behaviours, these are repetitive behaviours or mental acts that a person feels driven to perform. A compulsion can either be overt and observed by others (e.g., checking that a door is locked) or a covert mental act that cannot be observed (e.g., mentally repeating a certain phrase)
The most common compulsions include checking (e.g., gas taps; reassurance seeking) cleaning/washing, repeating actions, mental compulsions (e.g., special words or prayers repeated in a set manner) ordering, symmetry or exactness, hoarding.
You can schedule an assessment to explore a potential diagnosis with myself, a specialist OCD Therapist in London, online or at your home by clicking here.
What causes OCD?
The exact cause at present is not fully understood, but it is believed biology, genetic and developmental factors contribute.
Biology: OCD may be a result of changes in your body’s own natural chemistry or brain functions.
Genetics: OCD may have a genetic component, but specific genes have yet to be identified. You are more likely to develop OCD if a family member has OCD or suffered an anxiety or depressive disorder.
Learning: Obsessive fears and compulsive behaviours can be learned from watching family members or gradually learned over time. Traumatic experiences can also increase risk of developing OCD. Family history, environmental factors such as infections, stressful events can all contribute and act as triggers to OCD, it is important to mention this when you have your initial assessment.
CBT Psychotherapy assists with reducing stress, alongside anxiety and depression. Reducing potential life stresses with CBT increases prognosis for recovery and staying well.
Do I have OCD?
Click here to access a commonly used symptomatic questionnaire used in treatment by professionals
How to treat OCD
It is important to receive psychological evidence-based treatment from an OCD therapist who is also specialised in ERP therapy (Exposure Response Prevention). For treatment to be successful, exposure therapy must target the person’s specific fear and appraisal.
In the UK, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Care Excellence’s (NICE) guidelines on OCD recommend cognitive–behavioural therapy, (CBT) including exposure and response prevention (ERP), as an effective treatment for the disorder. You can access the NICE guidelines here
Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) has also a growing body of research to support treatment of OCD. It is a therapy used to help people recover from distressing events and the problems they have caused, upsetting thoughts, images, depression, or anxiety.
How Does OCD Exposure Therapy Redefine Recovery?
OCD Exposure Therapy revolutionises recovery by challenging the grip of obsessive fears and compulsive behaviours. Through controlled, gradual exposure to triggers, individuals confront their anxieties in a supportive environment. This process reshapes neural responses, diminishing distress and fostering resilience. By facing fears head-on, OCD Exposure Therapy empowers individuals to regain control over their lives. It dismantles the constraints that OCD imposes, allowing individuals to navigate daily activities with newfound confidence. Ultimately, this therapy offers a path to liberation, transforming obsessions into stepping stones toward a life unburdened by compulsions, and redefining recovery as a journey towards lasting well-being.
You can access an OCD therapist based in London trained in both CBT and EMDR by clicking here. Therapy at home is also available and is beneficial when supporting a person with exposure therapy.
If you wish to discuss and receive CBT, ERP treatment for OCD, then you can connect with me on Zoom or in-person for at home treatment, click here or send an email: email@example.com
Websites and additional information
The OCD ACTION website is a charity for people with OCD and their carers.
The National Institute of Clinical care and Excellence of treatment guidelines on OCD can be downloaded here.
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