What is OCD?
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or OCD, is an anxiety disorder affecting about 3% of Australians. Seeking professional help from a local Doctor, Psychologist, or OCD Clinic is the first step in your journey to recovery.
OCD can make it hard to get through everyday activities and lead to social disability. It generally develops in late childhood or early teenage years. Without proper treatment, OCD can become a chronic condition.
There is Nothing Amusing About OCD Rituals
The compulsive actions seen in people experiencing OCD are the result of thoughts and urges experienced by the sufferer that intrude into their normal daily activities to the stage where they cause extreme anxiety. The only way for the person to relieve this anxiety is to perform some particular ritual that temporarily releases the anxiety. It could be checking many times that the front door is locked before leaving the house, even though the person knows it is. It could be counting the number of steps from the front door to the letterbox or performing household chores an excessive number of times.
These are just some examples. There are hundreds and possibly thousands more, as each type of behaviour is somewhat unique to individuals with the condition. Psychologists can help people with OCD where their obsessions have entirely taken over their lives, and they can no longer function normally.
How OCD Affects Your Everyday Life
Often, the obsessions or compulsions are so time-consuming that they leave little time for normal social and family activities. In the case of hoarding, sometimes this compulsion takes over so completely that family members move out and cannot live in the home. While this causes sufferers great distress, they are unable to reverse the behaviour without assistance from a qualified psychologist.
CBT Therapy Challenges OCD and Distorted Thinking
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, or CBT Therapy, has proven to be very successful in treating OCD to the stage where, often, in combination with medication, sufferers can make a complete recovery. It works by challenging the distorted thinking causing anxiety and asking the patient to identify the underlying beliefs about a particular circumstance to test their validity. Often, the result of this process is that the patient can clearly see that some beliefs are baseless or that they are founded on an incorrect premise that the person has held to be true for their entire life.
Once these barriers start to break down, the patient is exposed to the everyday situations that trigger the anxiety. In the case of hoarding, for example, the patient will recognise that used food containers like pizza boxes or empty milk cartons have no value. Psychologists will encourage their patients to throw them away, with the anxiety gradually reducing with each action until the feeling no longer exists.
CBT Therapy has proven very effective in returning a normal life to OCD sufferers so they can resume work and family relationships and not feel trapped in a prison of their own making.