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This page was clinically reviewed by Dr Anne Perry (MBBS, MRCPsych), Consultant Psychiatrist at Priory Hospital Ticehurst House, in January 2022.

What is OCD?

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a serious mental health condition that causes individuals to experience a variety of symptoms that typically fall into one of two categories: ‘obsessions’ and/or ‘compulsions’.

Obsessions are characterised by persistent and irrational thoughts or urges, and compulsions refer to physical or mental acts that individuals feel compelled to perform. Some individuals who develop OCD only experience one type of symptom, whilst others can experience both obsessions and compulsions. These irrational thoughts and behaviours can become extremely time consuming and can seem impossible to stop or control.

What are the symptoms of OCD?

OCD symptoms can be categorised as either obsessions or compulsions, and there are several common examples of obsessions and compulsions that people with OCD may experience as part of their condition.

OCD obsessions include:

  • Overwhelming fear of germs or contamination
  • Recurring involuntary thoughts that you might say something inappropriate or harm another person
  • Constant worry that you forgot to lock a door or turn off an appliance
  • Experiencing intrusive sexual thoughts or constantly questioning your sexuality

OCD compulsions include:

  • Repeating ritualistic actions a set number of times or for a certain amount of time e.g. turning a light switch on and off
  • Washing your hands or bathing multiple times each day, regardless of need
  • Only touching certain objects with a tissue or avoiding objects that may be contaminated
  • Continually counting or repeating certain words over and over again
  • Rearranging objects so that these are aligned and symmetrical

At Priory, we understand that the symptoms of OCD can be distressing and confusing. As such, our world-class team of specialist psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists and other highly qualified mental health professionals are committed to providing comprehensive and personalised OCD treatment at our hospitals and wellbeing centres. We are dedicated to enabling you to address the causes and underlying triggers for your irrational thoughts and behaviours, improve your symptoms and regain control of your life.

Residential Support Enquiries

If you think you may require residential treatment at Priory and would like to discuss your options, please call us and speak to our expert advisors.
Call: 0800 860 6267
Alternatively, you can complete our online enquiry form.

Treatment and therapy for OCD at Priory

For many people, OCD can be a debilitating condition, but specialist OCD treatment and support can alleviate your symptoms and facilitate a strong and lasting recovery. At Priory, our OCD experts are dedicated to providing personalised OCD treatment and help, empowering you to become more self-aware, acquire lifelong coping mechanisms to help you to manage your OCD, resolve the underlying issues that may be exacerbating your OCD and identify triggers for your obsessions and compulsions before they manifest.

We are able to deliver expert OCD treatment in an outpatient, day care or inpatient (residential) capacity, depending on the intensity of the OCD support that you require, as well as your unique needs. You can read more about these different treatment options on our approach to mental health treatment page.

In addition, Priory’s national network of specialist UK hospitals and wellbeing centres mean that we are able to offer you the specialist mental health support that you need in a location that is convenient for you, and in a way that can be flexible around your work and other commitments.

OCD treatment at Priory typically consists of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and specialist OCD medication.

CBT for Obsessive compulsive disorder

CBT is a highly effective therapeutic method that is used worldwide in the treatment of a wide range of mental health conditions, including OCD. CBT is based on the principle that OCD develops and is intensified as a result of a series of dysfunctional, deeply ingrained thought processes that cause individuals to evaluate and respond to situations in unhealthy ways.

Therefore, the aim of CBT is to address the negative thought patterns that form the basis of your OCD, examine why they have developed in the first place, before challenging you to view situations in healthier ways. The OCD CBT programme at Priory aims to reduce anxiety and prevent patients from engaging in the harmful rituals that are characteristic of OCD.

CBT for OCD consists of exposure and response prevention (ERP), which means confronting your fears, learning to tolerate anxiety, and avoid using compulsive behaviours.

CBT has been found to result in long-lasting benefits and also aims to provide you with effective coping strategies, enabling you to continue enhancing your levels of wellbeing long after treatment. CBT can take place in the form of one-to-one therapy or group therapy, depending upon which method is deemed as being the most appropriate for you and your individual concerns.

Eye movement desensitisation and re-processing (EMDR)

Eye movement desensitisation and re-processing (EMDR) is a therapy method used to treat a variety of mental health conditions including trauma, addiction and anxiety as well as other emotional conditions.

EMDR allows a person to process an emotional experience that they have had difficulty talking about. Experience has shown that following EMDR treatment, the person can develop the ability to talk about their trauma more freely, and in a way that may have proved difficult in the past.

OCD medication

Medication can also be used to treat OCD; this is usually prescribed alongside CBT, in order to complement the therapeutic side of treatment, reduce anxiety, minimise the risk of relapse following treatment, and act as an additional buffer against OCD. The most useful medications in the treatment of OCD are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which are a form of antidepressant medication. SSRIs are non-addictive and their effects can be seen after several weeks. It is important to take a full course of SSRI treatment, which is usually a year or more.

Self-help tips for managing your OCD

If you think that you may be suffering from OCD it is important that you seek professional psychological help in order to receive tried, tested and long lasting OCD treatment. However, there are a number of practical steps that you can take yourself, in order to try and reduce your OCD symptoms. These include:

  • Recognise that OCD help and treatment is available - speak to a professional who can offer guidance regarding your difficulties, and to find out what will be the best treatment. OCD treatment can be very effective - treatment is not about eliminating anxiety, but learning to manage it in a healthier way, whilst still being able to engage with your day-to-day life

  • Remember that you are not alone - OCD is a common condition and a large proportion of the population may have had some OCD traits at some point in their lives. Don't let it prevent you from talking to people and getting the help that you need. There are online forums and support groups that take place regularly.

  • Learn more about OCD and the symptoms of OCD - there is a lot of information available online regarding OCD, including testimonials from people with OCD and how they have dealt with it. This can help you to put your difficulties into perspective, offer context, and give you a greater understanding of the condition and the treatment options that are available

  • Accept that OCD is a problem and may be interfering in your life - the first step in any form of change is coming to terms with what is required and why change is needed. Individuals who are struggling with OCD may employ a number of compulsive behaviours or rituals which cause you to feel ‘safe’ and temporarily alleviate your anxiety. These behaviours may be helpful in the short-term as they can help you to avoid experiencing uncomfortable feelings, but in the long term they may be prolonging your difficulties. Accepting that OCD is becoming a problem in your life can help with your motivation to change and seek help

Contact Priory Today

You don’t have to struggle with a mental health condition; expert treatment is available. Get the support you need today by calling us on: 0800 840 3219 or sending an enquiry form online.

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Outpatient therapy package for OCD

We are also able to offer a tailored outpatient therapy package at our wellbeing centres, which is specifically designed to tackle OCD. In order to allow peace of mind, our therapy package offers a set amount of one-to-one therapy sessions, certainty of price for initial treatment, discounted rates and a personalised treatment plan.

Regain control of your life and seek help for OCD

Due to the intense and time-consuming symptoms that are associated with this condition, individuals with OCD may find it hard to hold down regular employment and be productive in their day-to-day life.

In addition, family members and friends may also become involved in your obsessions, compulsions and rituals which can have a detrimental impact on their lives and wellbeing, and can cause them to experience significant distress.

However, it is crucial to understand that OCD is treatable, and the most important first step towards regaining control of your life is to seek specialist support.

Crisis Care at Priory

Priory’s customer service team is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to ensure that those in crisis can be signposted to the best possible support, as quickly as possible. The specialist teams at our residential facilities can help to stabilise those in need of immediate assistance for their OCD or other mental health concerns.

Priory Connect - Video access to expert specialists from the comfort of your home

Priory offers video access to online therapy and assessments. You will benefit from the same high regulatory standards received across all Priory services, and will be treated by highly trained therapists who are experts in their field.

Get in Touch Today

For details of how Priory can provide you with assistance regarding mental health and wellbeing, please call 0800 840 3219 or click here to submit an enquiry form. For professionals looking to make a referral, please click here

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