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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Treatment

OCD is a term that we hear often these days - it seems to have passed into common parlance thanks to a number of celebrities who have spoken about their OCD, including David Beckham, Leonardo DiCaprio and Cameron Diaz. People sometimes describe themselves as ' bit OCD' making it sound quirky and perhaps even desirable - the reality is very different.

What is OCD?

People suffering from OCD have recurrent obsessive thoughts which lead to compulsive acts - hence the name. This often constant tormenting stream of thoughts creates a state of fear and/or anxiety which can only be relieved by an action or series of actions, sometimes referred to as a ritual, because the relief is only temporary this often becomes a cycle which is repeated over and over again.

This is not only time consuming and exhausting for the sufferer but can also prevent them for doing the ordinary everyday things that many people take for granted; visiting friends, going out for meals holding down a job.

OCD Symptoms

OCD has been known about for 2,000 years and affects between 1 and 2% of the population, nearly 1,000,000 people in the UK. There are considered to be 4 categories;

  • Checking
  • Contamination/mental contamination
  • Hoarding
  • Ruminative/intrusive thoughts.

Examples of the sorts of behaviours include;

  • Constant hand washing/cleaning of surfaces etc
  • Refusal to touch certain objects,
  • Checking - lights, taps, doors etc
  • Constant counting or having to do things a particular number of times
  • Dislike of odd numbers of items
  • A need to have things in a particular order or pattern
  • Hoarding of out of date or useless objects
  • Thoughts that one may have harmed or killed someone or will cause harm to them.

This is just a small snapshot as each sufferer and their thoughts behaviours are unique. The cause of OCD is not fully known. One theory is that it stems from an ancient evolutionary checking system within the brain, in most people once a threat real or perceived is identified it is dealt with and the behaviour stops. In OCD sufferers there is no immediate stopping and the behaviour continues. There also seems to be a link to responsibility often for the safety of others which can be linked to the obsessive thought. OCD will sometimes start once a woman becomes a mother, or in childhood when a child takes on the role of carer for a parent.

OCD, Addiction or just a habit?

Behaviour is goal directed - we drink because we are thirsty for example. If we are having a cup of tea whilst talking to a friend we may initially drink because we are thirsty, often we will continue sipping the tea once our thirst has been quenched out of habit and because our behaviour has become automated whilst we focus on chatting to our friend, and the tea is there in front of us. Once the cup is empty we stop. 

The goal was to quench our thirst this has been achieved and the behaviour, even the habitual part has stopped. The habit and the goal are in balance. In addiction the behaviour continues beyond the goal and to excess. In OCD the behaviour is caused by an obsessive thought which generates fear and anxiety leading to the behaviour which then becomes a compulsion and is repeated over and over.

OCD Help

With Cognitive Hypnotherapy techniques I can help you identify any underlying issues which may be driving the thoughts and behaviours. Over a number of sessions we can work on changing the thoughts and behaviours from negative unhelpful ones to more positive effective ones. This can help to free you from the debilitating behaviours and rituals allowing you to live your life in the way you choose. Using your mind we can unravel the thought processes that cause the distressing behaviours.

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