Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
What is OCD?
OCD stands for Obsessive compulsive disorder.
OCD is a treatable anxiety disorder that affects more than 500,000 people in Australia. It usually develops in late childhood or early teenage years and without proper treatment can become a chronic condition. As the name suggests, there are 2 kinds of symptoms:
- obsessions – an unwanted thought, image or urge that repeatedly comes into the mind
- compulsions – repetitive behaviours or rituals, that are difficult or impossible to resist doing, which are carried out to reduce anxiety
The compulsions make a person with OCD feel (briefly) less guilty or anxious about their unwanted thoughts, which often disgust or horrify them.
The obsessive thoughts can be quite overwhelming, while compulsions can take up hours of a person’s day.
People with OCD will often hide their illness from others. But there are effective treatments available and you should seek help if you are worried about yourself or a loved one.
What causes OCD?
The exact cause of OCD is unknown. There is some evidence that OCD runs in families, but more research needs to be done in this area.
Why do some people develop (OCD)?
Unfortunately, the answer is not clear. Like many mental disorders, it’s thought to develop due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. There are several theories about the causes of OCD, including:
- genetic – having a first-degree relative with OCD may increase the chance of someone developing it. It's possible that some genes may give people a predisposition to OCD.
- biological – functional, structural or chemical abnormalities in the brain are currently being researched. Some links have been found to irregular levels of serotonin, the chemical that sends messages to the brain.
- environmental – some research suggests that OCD behaviours could be learned following a stressful event, such as catching a serious disease from contamination. OCD rituals may even be learned from others, such as from a parent with OCD.
Signs and symptoms of OCD
- constant intrusive, unwanted thoughts or mental images
- washing hands often
- cleaning clothes, house or belongings a lot
- putting things in a particular order
- counting, repeating words, tapping or praying
- checking things – door locks, appliances, taps
- feeling you have to do things over and over again to make sure
- constantly asking people for reassurance
- having routines and rituals that you have to follow every day
- Being aware that your thoughts are irrational but being unable to stop the thinking
OCD can come and go, and the symptoms can get better or worse over time.
A diagnosis of OCD can only be made by a doctor or clinical psychologist.
If you notice any of these symptoms and they are affecting your daily life, you should seek help.
How is OCD treated?
OCD can be treated effectively with psychiatry & psychological treatments (talking therapies) and, in some cases, medication. OCD can be treated if a person receives appropriate mental health care.
How can we help?
- make a diagnosis of OCD
- diagnose and treat any depression or anxiety, which are common in people with OCD
- provide treatments- talking therapy and medication
- Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
Having a loved one with OCD can be stressful and frustrating.
Compulsions are not something that someone with OCD can just ‘stop doing’. They often hate the fact that they have no control over their compulsions and are mentally and physically exhausted from dealing with their OCD.
OCD requires medical diagnosis and a professional management. Seeking help is the first step in the journey to wellness.
At Hellodoc, we have Psychiatrists and Psychologists who can assess, diagnose, and manage OCD and related conditions.
If you and your loved ones need assessment, please contact us after obtaining a referral from your GP.
The information on this website is NOT a substitute for proper diagnosis, treatment or the provision of advice by an appropriate health professional. Please speak to your doctor for advice about your situation. HelloDoc is not liable for any consequences arising from relying on this information.