What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is characterized by intrusive, un-shakeable thoughts that something bad will happen and the compulsive behaviors that help mediate the fear and discomfort caused by the obsessive thoughts.
Ordinary anxiety comes and goes, but does not get in the way of living a normal life.
Obsessions are nagging, intrusive thoughts that trigger anxiety, stress and fear. In response, people suffering from OCD may engage in repetitive compulsions to soothe their discomfort. Common obsessive thoughts include the need for symmetry and order, a fear of germs or dirt, thoughts of committing violence, an obsessive focus on luck and superstition, a fear of social scrutiny, fear of losing control, among many others.
Do You Have Obsessive Thoughts?
Symptoms of OCD
Anxiety and worry
Guilt and shame
Anger and irritability
Increased Heart Rate
Shortness of Breath
What are Compulsive Behaviours?
Compulsions are behaviours meant to sooth the anxiety, stress and discomfort created by obsessive thoughts. Compulsions include behaviors like scrubbing hands, excessive cleaning, organizing and arranging items, ritualistic tapping or counting, excessive fidgeting, repeating words or compulsive exercising.
How is OCD Treated?
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is treated using two techniques from cognitive behavioural therapy to change unhelpful thoughts and behaviours, cognitive therapy and exposure & response prevention (ERP).
OCD should be treated by a cognitive behavioural therapist who has a strong background in OCD therapy, such as Peter Gregg.
Cognitive therapy is very effective in changing unhelpful and unhealthy thought patterns and beliefs in people with OCD. It puts into perspective that the fears and thoughts you are experiencing are all perceived by you without any real life evidence to back them up.
For example, you send a text message to a friend and receive a quick, unengaging message back. You may start thinking that your friend is angry at you and begin obsessing over what you did wrong. Cognitive therapy teaches you to consider that you don’t actually know what your friend is thinking and that perhaps they are simply having a bad day at work.
Exposure & Response Therapy (ERP)
Exposure therapy is proven to be an effective treatment for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). During exposure therapy, the person with OCD is gradually exposed to their obsessions and asked not to engage in the compulsions that are used to soothe the discomfort caused. Repeated exposure to the obsession eventually reduces the urge to follow it with compulsive behavior.
Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR Therapy)
EMDR has been shown to be very effective in treating obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), especially OCD brought on by trauma, by reducing the distress that is felt when the person has obsessive thoughts, allowing them to control compulsions more easily; as well as, understand and face the underlying reasons for the distressing thoughts and compulsive behaviours.