Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) With specialist help, it’s possible to overcome
Relief from OCD comes from gaining insights into the hidden factors that trigger the condition. We want to give you a chance to learn more, improve your situation, and lead a better life for yourself and your loved ones. In our practice, our clinical psychologists use evidence-based methods to overcome your panic disorder.
What is OCD?
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is typically seen as repetitive behaviour such as obsessively washing or checking things. In reality, these behaviours are only a small part of the condition. Significant patterns of hidden, repetitive, negative thinking and crippling anxiety are the largest but usually hidden aspects of OCD. Early negative experiences and trauma are often found in people who develop OCD. Addressing these elements is important for successful therapy.
Symptoms of OCD
As its name suggests, the characteristics of obsessive-compulsive disorder contain two key elements: obsessions and compulsions.
An obsession (or ‘intrusive thought’) is an unwanted urge, doubt, thought, image or feeling. The thought returns to someone’s mind in an uninvited, repeated way and contains distressing content for that person.
“My family are going to die” (thought)
“Did I run somebody over?” (doubt)
“I might leave the gas on and kill somebody” (thought)
Spouse dies in an accident (image)
“I could attack somebody with a knife when I really don’t want to” (thought)
Hitting a partner (image)
“I might be a sex offender and I’ll hurt somebody” (thought)
Jump in front of a train (urge)
“Have I left the taps on?” (doubt)
Say something blasphemous (urge)
For a person without OCD, these thoughts can be easy to dismiss. But the mind of an individual with OCD has become conditioned to see these intrusions as believable. They represent danger and compel the patient into behaviour patterns – called compulsions – so they can feel safer.
A compulsion follows an intrusive thought. For someone living with OCD, a compulsion emerges to prevent the danger or reduce their anxiety.
Obsessive-compulsive behaviours are often overt. This means they are noticeable actions of the type you expect in OCD patients. But less visible (covert) mental compulsions are as much of an issue. See below for examples. Sometimes compulsions become ritualised, which pushes someone to follow an action from start to finish. So, instead of simply checking that a tap is off, it might involve them counting to a number or tapping out a pattern in sequence.
Checking the stove or taps are off (overt)
A person mentally calculating the probability that they’ll contract a virus in a given situation (covert)
Repeated hand-washing (overt)
Trying, and normally failing, to force intrusive thoughts out of mind (covert)
Inspecting the car to see if it ran over anyone without the driver realising (overt)
Attempts to replace intrusions with positive thoughts (covert)
An individual going over their memories to be sure they didn’t attack someone (covert)
Someone counting up to a number in a specific manner or touching their head in a patterned way (ritualised)
Lastly, OCD causes impairment and distress. Compulsions and rituals can grow to become extremely time-consuming and interfere with work and social interactions. Anxiety becomes so significant that it impacts the quality of day-to-day life.
Having severe OCD for a long time may lead to depression and decreased daily activities. This mental illness has other negative effects, such as lower life expectancy and increased risk of physical illnesses and suicide.
OCD is usually assessed by having a structured interview with a mental health professional. This takes one to two hours. This provides a comprehensive understanding of how the difficulties are happening and possible solutions. We may also use a statistical approach to measure someone’s OCD. The most common method is to ask the patient to complete a self-report questionnaire.
There are various formats we can choose. Each one is a well-researched and reliable way to detect:
The presence of OCD generally
The specific subtype of OCD that’s causing problems
And the severity of the issues compared to other individuals
Our treatment for OCD includes a positive and supportive therapist. It’s an opportunity to talk about your symptoms and any difficult issues connected with them. We can help you feel better and reconnect with daily life.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends a cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) course for low-to-moderate severity OCD. Where symptoms are severe, the guidelines recommend treating OCD with anti-anxiety medication alongside OCD. Variations of CBT approaches, such as acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) are a useful add-on to standard OCD treatments.
Other strategies use mindfulness as a basis. These help patients detach from obsessive thoughts, images and emotions. People often find this helps them overcome OCD faster than with standard CBT alone.
We routinely use these and other techniques. New approaches in OCD treatment, including eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR), are also successful in some cases. Where OCD is linked to negative experiences or trauma in early life, we use EMDR with traditional psychological methods. This quickens treatment and prevents problems from recurring.
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At Kove, our clinical psychologists can help you end intrusive thoughts and worries. We offer expert techniques to address the complexity of OCD: Be more in control, get off the anxiety cycle, and start living your life again. To find out more about our private services and how we can support you, book an initial consultation today.
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