5 things you should know about OCD
How many times have you said 'I'm so OCD' or heard 'That's so OCD' about someone else's behaviour? The truth is, often, as humans, we can be very particular about certain things, and that's OK. We may align our stationery, or clean the house every 2 hours, but categorising these types of behaviours as Obsessive-Compulsive-Disorder can blur the lines around the listed mental health condition.
"My friend Sally and I are on route to a lovely spa day. But what if I just drove straight into that tree? I'm shocked that I had this thought so randomly, I can't carry on driving, Sally has to take over."
The above is an example of an intrusive thought and a result, avoidance behaviour. But first of all, what is Obsessive-Compulsive-Disorder?
"OCD is an anxiety disorder characterised by you feeling inappropriate, distressing and repugnant intrusive thoughts, images or impulses (obsessions) that occur against your will. The compulsions are the things we do to avoid or 'control' the thoughts. Those behaviours can also be internal behaviours (mental activities)."
So when does behaving obsessively in certain situations become an actual mental health condition? When do intrusive thoughts get to a point where cognitive behavioural therapy is needed? When does it start to cross over into an anxiety disorder?
The truth is, every one of us experiences unwanted and intrusive thoughts; it's part of being human. However, those who do not have OCD can easily dismiss these thoughts as uncomfortable, weird, or just something their brain does and get on with their day.
Here are 5 five things you should know about OCD:
- OCD is more than just excessive cleaning or hand washing: There are 5 main types; Checking, Ruminations & Intrusive thoughts, Contamination, Symmetry and ordering, Hoarding. Explore these more in this previous blog post.
- You can't always see compulsive behaviour: 'Pure O' is a subtype of OCD - It's when a person experiences obsessive, unwanted thoughts without visible compulsions or rituals. These compulsions mainly exist in the form of reassurance seeking and mental rumination.
- OCD can span a wide range of themes: For example, you can get intrusive thoughts about; paedophilia, sexuality, relationships, harm, religion, existential and contamination.
- There isn't always a cause for it: So often, people associate mental health conditions with some big life event or unsteady past. But actually, one day you can have a thought about something, and it can stick. Once your brain reacts uncomfortably to it, like it's a threat, it can become a continuous loop thought that triggers conditions such as OCD.
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is the treatment choice for OCD: The treatment of OCD is a combination of; psycho-education, attentional focus training, exposure and response prevention, behavioural experiments, cognitive restructuring, graded cognitive exposure.
When to Seek Help
It's essential to seek help when the condition is making it hard to maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle. By this, we mean not being able to maintain close relationships or conduct daily activities such as going for a food shop or heading to work. It may feel like OCD has grips over you and your output on life, including who you are as a person, and how you conduct yourself. But it can be faced; it can be overcome, recovery is possible.
"Inside, I was miserable. I wouldn't have believed anything could have changed this. But I told myself I needed to do the CBT for me – and I stuck to it. I went to every single session and came out the other side." - Ava.
You are not alone, read Ava's OCD story here.
CBT is a fast and effective treatment of OCD, and we are delighted that 92% of our patients reach full recovery from the condition. It's never too late to seek help. We are here for you.
To find out more about CBT therapy, or to book an appointment please call us on 020 3795 8718, or send us a message.
Real Therapy. Real Results.