Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Each person who suffers from OCD describes slightly different problems. In general people with OCD experience obsessions. These are thoughts, pictures or impulses which are usually unpleasant and come into mind when we don’t want them. Many things can trigger these obsessions, and they usually leave the person feeling very anxious, uncomfortable or frightened. The compulsion is the behaviour performed in order to put right the obsession. Sometimes the behaviour performed is quite irrational (and the OCD sufferer recognises this) such as counting up in sevens for seven minutes.
Sometimes the behaviour is more closely related to the obsessional thought, such as washing hands many times to avoid thoughts of contamination. Most people with OCD know that their compulsions are unreasonable or over the top but they feel unable to control their thoughts or change their behaviour.
Many people experience obsessions and compulsions and are able to live with this without problems. People may think about seeking help when their lives are becoming disrupted by these unwanted thoughts and actions.
Courses we provide that can help you
SilverCloud is an exciting online therapy programme proven to help with stress, anxiety, low-mood and depression. There are a range of programmes, including extra activities and ideas from mindfulness and cognitive behavioural therapy. The programme is flexible; use it anytime, anyplace, and anywhere. You can even access it on a computer, tablet or mobile phone. Click here to read more
How can I help myself?
Carefully recognise your unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and the actions you take to put them right (compulsions).
- Gradually face some of the things you fear. Work out an anxiety ladder to help you do this. Begin with the easiest step.
- Do not carry out any compulsions to reduce or neutralise your anxiety when you are facing the feared situation.
- Break the obsession compulsion cycle.
- Challenge any gloomy or critical thoughts you may have about yourself.
Some of the symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) are listed here
What we think – obsessions
What we do - compulsions
Fearful thoughts or pictures in your mind about being contaminated by dangerous substances, e.g. germs, dirt, AIDS.
- Check body for signs of contamination.
- Wash/disinfect frequently.
- Avoid going to places or touching objects that you fear may contaminate you.
Frightening thoughts/ images that some serious harmful events will occur because of your carelessness, for example a gas explosion in the house because the cooker is left on, that the house will be burgled because of doors or windows left unlocked or that you may have knocked someone over in your car.
- Check feared situations/ appliances or journey route many times.
- Avoid being the last person to leave the house. Avoid responsibility.
- Seek reassurance regularly from another person that everything is alright.
Pictures or words in your head that suggest you will harm others, especially those you care for and would never want to harm. For example that you may hurt your own child, that you may be unfaithful to your partner.
- Pictures come into your mind of your loved ones dead.
- Avoid situations which you feel put you at risk of harming, e.g. hide kitchen knives.
- Think something to yourself to put right the frightening thoughts – these are neutralising thoughts. Carry out some task that will neutralise the thought, e.g. counting or saying a special word.
- Seek reassurance from others
Things in your life are not in the correct order or not symmetrical enough or in the right place, e.g. ornaments are out of alignment and you feel distressed by this
- You put things right or make them symmetrical many times until they feel right.
- You avoid contact with things that make you feel like this.
Blasphemous or unpleasant thoughts/ pictures and doubts about your faith come into your head.
- You pray, seek forgiveness frequently.
- Consult religious leader/ seek reassurance.
Most people who have OCD find that there is a pattern in their thoughts, feelings and actions. They feel anxiety or discomfort at having the obsession and relief once they have carried out the compulsive act. This becomes a vicious cycle which strengthens itself and becomes more likely to happen again. In addition to this the person who experiences OCD will often feel guilty and think that they must be a terrible person to have such thoughts. This in turn makes the thoughts more likely to return because they are given such negative importance in the person’s mind.
Research tells us that everyone has odd or distressing thoughts and pictures going through their minds at some times. Most people dismiss this from their mind as meaningless. Those who feel most guilty, distressed or disturbed by the thoughts, however, may involuntarily bring them back into their mind because of this distress.