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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.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) can be a challenging mental health condition for many. Specialist OCD treatment and support can alleviate your symptoms and facilitate a strong and lasting recovery. Many people with OCD seek treatment and support for their condition and are able to get the help they need to manage their symptoms and live the life they want.

Diagnosis for OCD

The diagnosis process for OCD starts with a conversation with your GP or another medical professional. They will be able to ask you some simple screening questions provided by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) to assess your current situation and discuss the need for further referral. Some questions may include:

  • Do you wash or clean a lot?
  • Do you check things a lot?
  • Is there any thought that keeps bothering you that you would like to get rid of but cannot?
  • Do your daily activities take a long time to finish?
  • Are you concerned about putting things in a special order or are you very upset by mess?
  • Do these problems trouble you?

During your assessment, you will also be asked about physical symptoms you may be experiencing, such as:

  • Dermatological symptoms (from excessive washing)
  • General stress (for example, from losing a job as a result of repeated lateness)
  • Avoidance (hiding sharp objects, not touching common surfaces like door handles, avoiding being left alone with children)

Depending on your responses, a more formal diagnostic interview may be conducted to understand your symptoms better and to learn how OCD is effecting your life. Some OCD symptoms are easily observed and reported, but others can be extremely difficult to pick up on without probing, especially where the rituals are covert or stigmatising.

Fast Access to Residential Treatment

We are currently able to offer fast access to private inpatient treatment at Priory. Please call us today and speak to our expert advisors.
Call: 0800 860 6267
Alternatively, you can complete our online enquiry form.

How is OCD Treated?

Treatment for OCD is often offered as outpatient therapy, meaning you and a team of specialists work together whilst you’re living at home. Depending on your symptoms and how they affect your life, residential inpatient treatment is also an option. This means you live at a mental health facility and have access to care and support more often.

Whether you’re treated as an outpatient or inpatient, the same OCD treatment methods will be used, and these include different types of therapy and medication to control your compulsions.

Therapy for OCD

CBT for OCD

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.

ERP Treatment for OCD

ERP is a therapeutic technique that encourages you to gradually face your fears until you learn to tolerate and overcome the anxiety that they cause. The process of ERP teaches you to simply let your obsessive thoughts and anxiety wash over you, instead of becoming distressed and needing to ‘put them right’ or ‘neutralise’ them with a compulsion.

Exposure requires the patient to repeatedly test their fear and expectations, learning to tolerate the anxiety while not performing their rituals (response prevention).

 What does this mean?

  • Learning to give up control
  • Resisting the compulsions
  • Repeatedly tolerating the discomfort that occurs
  • Planning out exposures and behavioural experiments so that patients test out whether their irrational theories actually match the results

Through consistent exposures, patients will gradually find it easier to face up to the fear and to cope with anxiety, and may then be able to generalise what is learnt through exposures in other areas of life. Despite an increase in short-term anxiety and distress, these tend to gradually decrease over time.

Eye movement desensitisation and re-processing (EMDR) for OCD

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. It is usually prescribed alongside CBT, in order to complement the therapeutic side of treatment. Medication can reduce anxiety, minimise the risk of relapse following treatment, as well as 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.

Treating OCD at Priory

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.

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 FAQs

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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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