Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a distressing anxiety condition affecting 1% to 2% of the population and it is characterised by ritualistic and sometimes bizarre behaviour that confines sufferers to the fringes of society. It is commonly referred to as OCD, and is often the butt of jokes, both in the media and, unfortunately, sometimes directed at the sufferer who has very little control over the symptoms of the condition.
There is Nothing Amusing About OCD Rituals
The compulsive actions seen by others 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 that 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 literally hundreds and possibly thousands more, as each type of behaviour is somewhat unique to individuals with the condition. The Brisbane City Psychologist sees many people with OCD where their obsessions have completely take over their life and they can no longer function normally. 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 are unable to live in the home. While this causes sufferers great distress, they are unable to reverse the behaviour without assistance from a qualified psychologist.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy Challenges Distorted Thinking
Cognitive Behaviour 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 that is causing the 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 his or her entire life.
Once these barriers are starting to break down, the patient is exposed to the normal 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. The Brisbane City Psychologist will encourage the patient to throw them away, with the anxiety gradually reducing with each action until the feeling no longer exists.
This therapy has proven to be very effective in returning a normal life back to OCD sufferers, so they can resume work and family relationships, and not feel trapped in a prison of their own making. If you or someone you know could benefit from this therapy, go to www.brisbanecitypsychologist.com.au for more information.