Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder which is thought to occur in approximately 2-3% of the general population. if you are suffering from OCD, you may be experiencing one or both of the following:

  • Obsessive recurring persistent thoughts, images or impulses that cause you a lot of anxiety or distress
  • Behaviours or mental acts that you are driven to perform repeatedly to alleviate anxiety caused by obsessions

Common examples of obsessions are excessive worrying about causing harm to others, fears about security, hygiene, contamination, certain numbers, relationships or dreaded events occurring (i.e. house fires, car accidents), unwanted sexual or religious thoughts.

Common compulsions include repetitive checking behaviours, cleaning or tidying rituals, tapping objects,  hand washing,  excessive showering or teeth brushing, ordering, counting, repeating words or phrases, repetitive blinking or repetitive praying.

If you have hygiene fears you may go to extraordinary lengths to avoid touching items you view as dirty or contaminated.

If you are afflicted with OCD you are usually aware that your symptomatic thoughts and behaviours are ‘beyond the norm’ and get frustrated with your inability to control them.

You may also suffer from a general low mood.

The causes of OCD are not definitive but are thought to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Traits such as being very conscientious or ordered, thinking in black & white, perfectionism, or easily feeling guilty or ashamed can make you more vulnerable to developing the illness.

Treatment

 

It is important that you consult a professional who is experienced with OCD as it can be a difficult disorder to treat.

Each person’s OCD is unique, however successful treatment will typically include a combination of exposure and response prevention therapy (CBT) and mindfulness skills. It can also be helpful to explore underlying fears and emotions and the history contributing to the illness.

Medication may also be necessary if the OCD is severe.

Blair Schulze has over 15 years experience treating OCD.

 

Counselling Works is an Auckland Counselling service based in Grey Lynn Ponsonby, Central Auckland.