5 Facts About OCD

5 Facts About OCD

by Dr Emma Gray - 23rd September, 2014


Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

1. How Common is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) affects between 1 and 3 % of children and adults and in 80% of adult cases symptoms develop before the age of 18 years.


2. What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is an anxiety based disorder.  This means that at the core of the problems lies a tendency for the sufferer to overestimate disaster and underestimate their ability to cope.  It also means that the sufferer faces a daily battle with often debilitating physical symptoms of anxiety.


3. What Does Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) involve?
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) involves a combination of obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours.  Obsessive thoughts usually involve the fear of harm to oneself or others and a belief in one’s responsibility for this harm.  Obsessive thoughts usually take one of two forms.

The first type of obsessive thoughts are ruminations, these are a prolonged train of thought involving unanswerable questions about morality, religion, philosophy or a person’s sanity.

The second form of obsessive thoughts are intrusive thoughts, these are repetitive and distressing and usually involve content that is abhorrent to the sufferer.  Such obsessive thoughts trigger compulsive behaviours which in the short term are an attempt by the sufferer to prevent the predicted harm and reduce the physical symptoms of anxiety that result from the prediction.

Compulsive behaviours usually take the form of repetitive and ritualistic checking, counting and cleaning/washing.


4. What Other Problems Accompany Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?
Sufferers of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) frequently experience other (or co-morbid) mental health problems.  These may include Panic Attacks, Depression, Low Self Esteem and confidence and Eating Disorders (inc. Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, eating disorders not otherwise specified {EDNOS} and Binge Eating Disorder).

These co-morbid mental health problems will need to be treated separately once the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) symptoms have been resolved.


5. What is the Treatment for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?
Evidence suggests that the best treatment for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a combination of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and a behavioural therapy called Exposure and Response Prevention.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a ‘talking therapy’ that helps the sufferer to identify how their thought, feelings and behaviours interact to result in the symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and then teaches them practical and psychological techniques to overcome these symptoms.

Exposure and Response Prevention is a behaviour therapy programme which supports the sufferer to resist engaging in compulsive behaviours, in order to gather evidence to show that they are not necessary in order to prevent the harm predicted by the obsessive thoughts that precede them.

In some severe cases medication may be prescribed in the short term to enable the sufferer to engage in a programme of therapy as outlined above.

If you are suffering with any of the issues discussed in this article and would like to seek professional help then you may find our Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Page helpful.

Dr Emma Gray

Dr Emma Gray

I am often the first person with whom my patients share significant and intimate thoughts and memories; I never take that privileged position for granted nor the opportunity to help someone to feel better about themselves and discover a more fulfilling life. One of my colleagues once described me as a natural psychologist; I guess she was alluding to the fact that I feel at ease being a therapist, I can empathise with people’s distress and discomfort but don’t feel overwhelmed by it, I can understand their problem and know how to help, it has always just felt like what I should be doing.

Read more about my approach to counselling here...

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  • CBT treatment for OCD 15/02/2023 Reply

    Mental health issues can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, race, or socioeconomic status. It’s essential to recognize the intersectionality of mental health and work towards creating inclusive and accessible mental health resources for everyone

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