Tidy sand pit

OCD is very disturbing to sufferers

What is OCD?

Studies in brain research suggest that Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is caused by processing errors in some parts of the brain that affect how we think and how we act on those thoughts. Clinically OCD is classified as an ‘anxiety disorder’ and is characterised by repetitive disturbing thoughts (called obsessions) and/or ritual behaviours, that can also be repetitive, that the person feels driven to perform (called compulsions). Intrusive images and unwanted impulses may occur, in place of thoughts, and these can also be categorised as obsessions.

The Compulsion exists because it is believed to neutralise the obsession. The perception is that, by carrying out the compulsive behaviour, the obsession will be rebalanced in some way. Very often the compulsions themselves give rise to even more anxiety, especially when they become demanding. The distress caused by the obsessions can be so overwhelming that the person feels they have no choice but to give in to the compulsion, even though they usually recognise that their thoughts or behaviours make no sense and are illogical and sometimes excessive.

What are the main features of OCD?

  • Recurrent unwanted and distressing thoughts (obsessions) and/or repetitive irresistible behaviours (compulsions)
  • Insight present: person acknowledges senselessness or excessiveness of symptoms
  • Compulsions usually reduce anxiety, but are not pleasurable
  • Symptoms produce subjective distress, are time-consuming (less than 1 hour per day), or interfere with function

Common themes of obsessions

  • Symmetry (e.g., Need for things to be ordered or placed in an exact way)
  • Safety/security (e.g., fear that something bad may happen like death or illness)
  • Contamination (e.g., fear of illness, bacteria, germs, infection)
  • Harm (e.g., fear that they will cause harm in some way such as causing an accident or fire),
  • Unwanted aggressive thoughts (e.g., Thought may exist to harm a loved one),

Common themes of compulsions

  • Ordering and arranging (e.g., Maintaining symmetry of cupboards of food or items on a table)
  • Counting or repeating a routine activity (e.g., Ritualised locking & unlocking of a door or flicking a switch on & off)
  • Checking (e.g., Ritualised opening and closing a window to ensure it is closed)
  • Cleaning (e.g., Repeated cleansing of surfaces or ritualised hand washing to avoid contamination)
  • Hoarding (e.g., Endlessly collecting items of little value or use).

Not all compulsions are observable behaviours, such as hand washing or flicking light switches, some compulsions are performed as secretive unobservable mental rituals, such as silent counting or recitation of prayer or nonsense words to eliminate a feared obsession.

What makes it worse?

A common complication of any anxiety disorder is Depression. Approximately 75% of OCD sufferers report experiencing depressive symptoms. Depression weekends resolve and the endless uncontrollability of OCD can lead to feelings of despair and loss of energy. As depression increases so can anxiety about one’s inability to experience pleasure in life (due to it continually being tainted by OCD for example). Increased anxiety can lead to disturbed sleep & loss of energy which further contributes to the vicious cycle of anxiety & depression. Many OCD sufferers report decreased sexual drive and/or decreased/increased appetite and even suicidal thoughts.

Is OCD common?

In the UK studies suggest that 1.2% of the population (approximately 741,504 people) have OCD, which equates to 12 out of every 1000 people. Reports suggest that this data is considerably underestimated because a lot of people with OCD suffer in silence through embarrassment and fear of being labelled. Many other people may also be completely unaware that they are suffering from a genuine medical condition. Many OCD cases start as mild obsessions and/or compulsions but get progressively worse if left unchecked. If untreated, OCD is usually chronic and follows a waxing and waning course. Only about 5%-10% of OCD sufferers enjoy a spontaneous remission in which all symptoms of OCD go away for good. Another 5%-10% experience progressive deterioration in their symptoms. Stress can make OCD worse, but trying to eliminate all stress is unlikely to quell OCD. If untreated, approximately one third to one half of children and adolescents with OCD continue to have OCD in adulthood. Early recognition and intervention is, therefore, very important.If you suspect you have OCD, or any type of anxiety disorder, the quicker you address it, the easier it is to beat. If you are unsure and would like to check feel free to contact me for a FREE chat.

How do you get OCD?

OCD is usually starts in adolescence. Onset is rare after the age 35. In fact almost half of OCD cases begin in childhood. Boys are more affected than girls during childhood but, as people enter adulthood, onset is more equal between men and women.
OCD is classless and can therefore affect people from all walks of life. No neurological factors are yet known that predetermines a person to the development of OCD. However, environmental factors are considered to affect onset, such as if one your parents has OCD. As with most anxiety disorders, it appears that OCD can be learned through exposure to other OCD sufferers which is probably why it’s most commonly developed in adolescence because children unknowingly pick it up from family members.

How can I tell if I have OCD?

Reliable diagnostic tests for OCD don’t really exist. The most reliable way to diagnose OCD is through a face-to-face assessment with an experienced therapist. There still appears to be much stigma surrounding the subject of mental health in the UK that prevents people’s willingness to share private, and often very difficult, experiences with mental health professionals. If you’re reading this article then chances are you are looking for information for yourself or for someone you know. If you’ve got this far don’t let embarrassment or fear stand between you and recovery. OCD only gets worse if left unchecked and at best, with the right treatment, can significantly improve your whole quality of life. Please pick up the phone and call me for a FREE and 100% confidential and informal chat, you’ll be extremely glad that you did.

Although it is best to speak to someone in person, some people prefer to complete a questionnaire that lists examples of obsessive-compulsive behaviours, this way it is just between you and the computer. Although no substitute for a face-to-face assessment you could look for the Florida Obsessive-Compulsive Inventory (FOCI) for more help with self-diagnosis.

What are the historic treatments for OCD?

Historic treatments for OCD tend to be based on either medication or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). Studies have shown that certain antidepressants (SSRI’s), such as fluoxetine and sertraline, are affective in treating OCD. The problem with medication is that, although it reduces symptoms, it doesn’t actually ‘resolve’ the problem.

CBT, a therapy that tackles the relationship between thoughts, feelings and behaviours, can be affective with some OCD sufferers but the journey towards recovery is often laced with distress and can be off-putting to some. Many of the recent television documentaries about OCD have employed behavioural themed CBT techniques to help people alter their behaviours (compulsions) though Exposure and Response Prevention (ExRP). You may be able to locate some examples of these on YouTube. CBT treatments focus on the thinking processes, rather than the ‘meaning’ of the obsessions and involves getting the patient to directly confront their fears without performing the associated rituals.

Although this treatment can be effective (and a historically popular choice for a CBT therapist to administer) it can also be extremely difficult and very disturbing for the patient to experience, another reason why a lot of people are reluctant to come forward and seek CBT treatment for OCD. Even though recent studies have indicated that a combination of both CBT and SSRI’s are even more effective, the sheer pain and torment associate with ExPR encourages a lot of people to suffer in silence.

What treatments does Elliot Rose offer for OCD?

Forget the fads – Try a therapy that you will enjoy and will want to return to.

My therapeutic background is in contemporary models of therapy, which focus on how you process language and sensory information in the world around you in order to shape your experience of reality.

This is a systemic approach to therapy, which means I look at the whole picture of your life rather than one specific aspect of it. Therapy focuses on changing your subconscious thinking, which will gently alter your regular thoughts as they shift towards new long-lasting, positive solutions. Clients have reported that this type of therapeutic approach is extremely refreshing and very different from traditional therapeutic approaches they have encountered in the past. They say that they have found it immediately empowering and sometimes a lot of fun.

Take a look at the testimonials page to see some comments from past treatments.

By not being tied to one specific type of therapy (such as only CBT) we are free to explore your OCD through many different, and often challenging, tools and techniques that are ultimately designed to loosen the glue that has stuck you to your OCD behaviours for such a long time.

Some techniques you may already be familiar with such as Mindfulness and acceptance based thinking, establishing new relationships with yourself, re-writing of old OCD scripts, imagined exposure techniques, trance based therapy, motivational interviewing techniques, cognitive therapy, neuro-linguistic programming and hypnotherapy. The goal is to provide the most comprehensive and unique therapy program for you so that each treatment is specifically tailored to your needs, rather than forcing you down the path of one type of therapy fits all. This ensures that your OCD is being treated in the most unique, dynamic and effective way possible. No two treatments are ever the same.

For therapy & coaching enquiries, speak to Elliot in complete confidence on

07393 082 323 or
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