OCD is the fourth most common psychological disorder, with an estimated 1 in 50 of all adults experiencing symptoms within any given year. The World Health Organisation ranks OCD as a top ten debilitating disorder (physical or psychological) in terms of reduced quality of life and income loss. At least 20% of sufferers also suffer from depression. Fortunately, there are well established Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) protocols for managing OCD that we use at the Ändern Centre to help reduce symptoms and enable sufferers to lead less limited lives.
Superstitions and rituals are a common component of human existence. However, for some people, these superstitions and rituals can become overblown to the point of becoming overwhelming. Of all the common psychological problems presenting for cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), the specifics of each individual OCD sufferer are perhaps the most individualised.
Obsessions are intrusive thoughts or images that are resistant to attempts to put them out of our mind. Some of the most commonly observed obsessive OCD phenomenon include fears about: contamination, harm coming to others, sexual orientation or religious themes. Other common obsessions involve, perfectionism, overinflated responsibility, and a need for certainty.
Often these compulsions are rituals that are utilised in the misapprehension that such techniques will enable the sufferer to feel 'just right' and therefore be able to carry out their daily activities. Common OCD compulsions include washing, cleaning, sorting, checking, ordering/arranging, hoarding, repeating, counting or similar mental activity. Unfortunately, such behaviours can be incredibly damaging, not least in terms of time spent in their enactment. Such behaviours can sometimes cause real physical damage, whilst also causing OCD sufferers to feel alienated and embarrassed
OCD is an anxiety problem, and can be viewed as a rather complex form of avoidance that sufferers use in an attempt to deal with their anxieties. The obsessions are like a consistent worry and the compulsions are like an attempted neutralising activity used as a solution to the worry problem. As is often the case in anxiety problems, such solutions often turn into a problem in itself.
OCD can also involve covert obsessions and compulsions which whilst not as obvious can be equally damaging. For example, mental activities such as repeating, checking, and counting. OCD responds very well to cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and there are well-established protocols that can be followed.
At the Ändern Centre treatment includes learning to challenge unhelpful beliefs, which in turn emboldens sufferers to begin gradually challenging their unhelpful behaviours. Often treatment involves learning to overcome one's sense of overinflated responsibility, cope with issues around certainty and control, whilst also learning that feared catastrophes do not, in fact, come to pass. OCD can also respond well to SSRI’s (the standard medication for depression that is also effective with anxiety disorders such as OCD). Sometimes it is recommended that sufferers approach their GP to discuss this option.
A surprising number of people do not realise their negative experiences are actually OCD. Others avoid seeking treatment as they may fear ‘upsetting the apple cart’. However through applying CBT sufferers lives can be remarkable improved, making treatment highly recommended. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is viewed as the psychological treatment of choice for OCD by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) and the Royal College of Psychiatrists.