One in 50 people will develop Obsessive Compulsive Disorder during their lives, with the condition known to run in families. It can be triggered by stressful situations and periods of depression. Help is available with Priory's dedicated OCD treatment centres in the UK.
As the actions associated with OCD are a response to obsessional fears, the resulting compulsive rituals may cause you to have ‘safe’ thoughts which temporarily reduce anxiety. Common responses involve constant checking, cleaning and avoiding certain things. Examples can include:
- Checking if a household appliance is turned off
- Washing yourself or objects more than usual
- Only touching things with a tissue or avoiding items which may be contaminated
- Repeating actions a set number of times or for a specific period of time
What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?
OCD is a prevalent mental health condition that causes a person to have irrational thoughts known as ‘obsessions’. To try and deal with the anxiety associated with the obsession, repetitive actions or ‘compulsions’ are performed. Some people only suffer from obsessions, whilst others suffer from a mixture of both obsessions and compulsions. It commonly begins in puberty or early adulthood.
Signs and symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)-
OCD can have a negative impact upon your daily life. Whilst you may have minor obsessions which form part of your personality, there are severe forms of the condition which can affect your work and family life.
Read more on the symptoms of OCD and what can cause the condition to develop.
Treatments for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
OCD treatment often involves Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and OCD medication. A structured programme tailored to your specific problem will be designed after a consultant psychiatrist and trained therapist have carried out an assessment. Treatment will depend on the seriousness of your condition and will be discussed. Outpatient, day patient or inpatient care is available.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Programmes
Without medication being used for OCD, the following techniques can be used to help you overcome the condition.
- Exposure and response prevention
- Confronting fears and learning not to use compulsive behaviour
- Tackling smaller fears then gradually building up
- Practising techniques at home to reinforce the response prevention
- This programme results in reduced anxiety, which will then allow the rituals to stop
How long will treatment take?
The length of treatment for OCD varies from 10 outpatient sessions upwards, depending on how serious or complex your condition is. You may need some follow-up sessions to encourage you to continue to use the skills you learned in your treatment.
What OCD medication is available?
There are some antidepressant medications that can be very useful in OCD treatment. They reduce the obsessions and are useful if one of your symptoms is feeling low. In severe cases, medication can make behavioural and psychological treatments more effective. They're not addictive and are safe to use over long periods of time. The medication used in OCD treatment is normally of a higher dose and needs to be taken for longer than medication prescribed for treatment of depression, so a psychiatrist should supervise use.
You may find the treatment difficult as you will need to confront your obsessional fears and stop your compulsive responses to these. But the most important thing is to realise that OCD help is available and effective in most cases. Therapists and other hospital staff are aware of your condition and will give as much support as possible. Carers and family members will be involved as appropriate, especially where you need support at home.
Self-help with OCD
Self-help may be useful as the first stage of treatment or alongside other treatments. There are also many different self help books, leaflets and internet sites available. You need to find the right options for you. Self-help groups, like those supported by OCD Action, can be a useful support but they should not replace professional treatment. However, they can help sufferers and families understand that they are not alone, and offer valuable support and practical advice.
Contacting your GP is often the easiest way to get OCD help and further treatment. He or she may offer you counselling or refer you to a specialist for further assessment. This may lead to outpatient treatment or, if more serious, day or inpatient treatment.
If you're worried about talking to your GP, consider writing down your concerns and questions. You can:
- Take a friend or family member with you
- See another doctor in the practice
The type of professional support offered will depend on the services that are available in your area and the arrangements that our primary care trust (PCT) have with other health authorities or private providers. Treatment for OCD is also available privately through the Priory.
Contact Priory for further information