Obsessive-compulsive disorder, also known in its shortened form as OCD, is an anxiety-based mental disorder. It is comprised of 2 parts:
Obsessiveness, which is identified as distressing and intrusive thoughts that tend to repeatedly occupy your mind. These can fall into several different categories, including compulsive habits, which are the most well-known manifestation of the disorder.
Compulsiveness, which pertains to the actions that someone feels compelled to perform in order to reduce their anxiety level about the obsessive thoughts.
OCD tends to occur when your anxious thoughts are uncontrollable and you feel the urge to engage in some form of ritual that is usually senseless or excessive. For example, you may have some anxiety about germs or catching a disease. It makes sense that you would be very careful washing your hands and practicing good cleaning habits. A person with OCD may have an extremely high fear (obsession) about germs or catching a disease. This leads them to extremely thorough and repetitive handwashing or repeatedly disinfecting objects in their home (compulsive behaviour) even though logically, they know that they’d just washed their hands minutes ago or no one has touched the object they’ve washed for the third time.
Symptoms & signs of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Repetitive and overwhelming obsessive thoughts about:
- Dirt, germs, or other contamination
- Doubting that you’ve completed a task or action (locked the doors, for example)
- Impulses that are inappropriate and feel difficult to control (for example, harming others)
Uncontrollable behaviours such as:
- The need to have everything organized in a very particular way
- Repeated handwashing, cleaning
- Checking and rechecking that lights, the stove, etc. are turned off
- Throat clearing, praying, repeating words or phrases (usually silently)
- Brief feelings of relief once the daily repeated “rituals” are complete
When is it time to get help?
OCD is about more than being a perfectionist or dealing with anxiety. It has a way of disrupting your everyday life. Living with OCD can make doing everyday tasks such as washing your hands, brushing your teeth, or even going out to eat with friends and family a very difficult task. If you feel the need to have everything organized in a very particular way, have a fear of germs, experience relief when you complete certain tasks every day, or have uncontrollable behaviors and thoughts, it may be time to seek help.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) treatment methods
An assessment should be completed by a trained therapist before the best treatment methods are chosen. Together with your therapist, you will get to the root of your issues and that will determine the best treatment for your individual situation. Common treatment methods that have worked in this area include:
- Behavioural therapy tends to view human beings and behaviour with the assumption that humans are a product of their sociocultural conditioning and environment, looking at the current problems and the factors influencing them and emphasizes behaviour changes more than the underlying unconscious processes.
- Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based approach to treatment that focuses on how people’s thoughts, emotions, and beliefs influence their behaviour and how they perceive themselves.
- Mindfulness therapy is an approach to treatment that focuses on how people’s thoughts, emotions, and beliefs influence their behaviour and how they perceive themselves, others, and the world. The ability to be in the moment, to acknowledge and regulate your emotions helps you to break free from negative thought patterns.
What will I get out of treatment with Insight Psychological?
If you suspect that you or a loved one has OCD, we have therapists who specialize in this area. If you are struggling, please contact us and we can help you find a therapist that’s right for you. It is possible to break free from the confines of OCD and to find peace in your life. We’d be honoured to help you on that journey. We have several Alberta locations to serve you , or you can also access counselling online.