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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

About Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) affects approximately 2% of Australians adults. People with OCD experience excessive repetitive and unwanted thoughts, which cause them to feel anxious or distressed (i.e., obsessions) and complete repetitive and time consuming behaviours or mental rituals (i.e., compulsions) as a way to cope with or reduce this anxiety. Most adults experience some mild obsessions and compulsions from time to time. But, the obsessions and compulsions experienced by people with OCD are very debilitating - that is, they often take hours and hours of time each day.

Importantly, people with OCD often know that their concerns and behaviours are unreasonable or excessive. But, they feel compelled to engage in these activities to prevent harm.

"Bethany experiences extreme worries about hygiene and contamination, and relieves her anxiety by excessive washing, cleaning, and arranging. She also silently repeats certain phrases which seem to reduce her tension. Bethany knows that her concerns and actions are excessive, but feels compelled to do these to prevent harm to her and her family."

What Are the Symptoms of OCD?

The obsessions and compulsions of OCD vary a lot between people. But, some common obsessive themes include:

  • Causing harm to themselves or to others
  • Becoming contaminated or spreading contamination
  • A need for things to be ordered (to prevent bad things happening)
  • Repetitive and upsetting thoughts, images or unwanted urges of a religious, sexual or immoral nature

Similarly some common compulsive themes include:

  • Excessive checking, washing, cleaning, arranging and repeating routine activities
  • Repeated mental activities like saying a silent prayer, repeating safe words or phrases or constantly reviewing conversations with people
  • Avoiding situations that trigger their obsessions
  • Repetitive and upsetting thoughts, images or unwanted urges of a religious, sexual or immoral nature

Importantly, people with OCD often know that their concerns and behaviours are unreasonable or excessive. But, they feel compelled to engage in these activities to prevent harm.

Symptoms of OCD can occur in everyone to some degree. However, OCD is diagnosed and treatment is needed when these symptoms interfere in the person's ability to live their life the way they would like. Their symptoms might get in the way of their relationships, being able to work or go to school or engage in pleasurable activities.

Treatment of OCD

The good news is that Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is treatable! The best treatments involve:

(a) Learning about OCD, the symptoms and how they interact.
(b) Learning practical, proven, skills for controlling symptoms and gradually practicing going into situations you fear (i.e., to teaching yourself that you can manage those situations).

You can talk to your General Practitioner about getting a referral to an experienced mental health professional or another mental health professional to learn to manage your OCD. Or, you can try our OCD Course.



The OCD Course