Obsessions are persistent unwanted urges, thoughts or images that feel intrusive to the person, and cause anxiety.
Compulsions are the actions taken to relieve this anxiety. Some of the more common obsessions involve fear of contamination, doubting one’s actions, or sexual or aggressive thoughts. Some of the common compulsions sufferers experience include repetitive or excessive washing, checking, reassurance seeking, ordering things symmetrically or precisely, and hoarding.
How Cognitive Behaviour Therapy can help?
With advances in our understanding and effective treatments of OCD, there is more reason for optimism than ever before. With treatment, often through a combination of medication and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), people can recover from this debilitating disorder. CBT will provide you with the tools necessary to keep symptoms manageable. Any medication options should be discussed with your GP.
Cognitive therapy involves challenging and confronting the distorted thinking that is leading the sufferer to become overly anxious about intrusive thoughts, images and impulses. Some examples might be the beliefs that “if I have a horrible thought about harming someone, it means that I am a person capable of doing that”, or “I can’t relax until I am 100% certain that everything will be ok”.
Behaviour therapy involves exposure to the normal situations in life that trigger the obsession (eg. touching an empty rubbish bin lid), and then voluntarily preventing oneself from performing the compulsive ritual to relieve the anxiety (eg. washing one’s hands to remove contamination). Through a natural process, called habituation, the person will then gradually experience less and less anxiety in response to triggers.