Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Treatment Melbourne
OCD is an anxiety/fear disorder characterised by intrusive threat related thoughts and compulsive actions aimed at neutralizing those thoughts and feelings. If you are looking for psychological treatment for OCD in Melbourne read through to learn more.
Obsessions are repetitive anxiety-provoking thoughts, images, doubts or impulses that pop into our mind involuntarily. They are typically uncontrollable and can cause considerable distress and tension. Obsessions often involve either experiencing or causing some form of harm to oneself, another person, or property. When the obsessional thought occurs it readily grips and demands our awareness and attention.
The experience of these obsessions often leads to compulsions (whether mental rituals or behaviours such as checking, repeating, and handwashing) aimed at neutralizing the anxious obsession. Similarly, these compulsive acts are repeated to prevent a feared situation from occurring.
Consequently, people can spend a significant amount of time and energy trying to ignore, suppress, and neutralize these obsessions. However, usually these rituals only cause a short burst of relief and security. Furthermore, these rituals often lose their effectiveness, only serving to make the obsession more salient and present in the mind.
Examples of OCD
As an example, a person might have intrusive thoughts about causing a fire in their home. This then leads to excessively checking all appliances multiple times before leaving the home. When the person leaves for work, they might doubt and wonder whether all of the appliances are turned off. This results in the person having to return home to re-check everything. By the time they repeat the cycle they forget whether the initial appliances were turned off and have to repeat the check again.
Another example, a person might have intrusive obsessional thoughts about violently harming their partner. As a consequence they work tirelessly to check and eliminate all potential harms in their household every day. Seeing a knife on the bench is enough to bring another wave of anxiety. They might repeat mental lists and checks to try to block the thoughts out of their mind.
Finally, a person might require strict order and cleanliness in their household. Throughout the day they might have obsessional thoughts about the possible germs, diseases, and illness they might contract. Therefore, they engage in hours of daily cleaning and handwashing to minimize any potential contamination.
Common Symptoms of OCD
OCD symptoms usually manifest as a combination of intrusive thoughts and compulsive actions. OCD can be a highly cognitive form of anxiety. Obsessive compulsive disorder is usually diagnosed when it causes significant distress and interferes with aspects of persons life (e.g. relationships, work, leisure and play). Below are some examples of OCD symptoms.
- Obsessions often have themes to them, such as:
- Fear of contamination or dirt
- Doubting and having difficulty tolerating uncertainty
- Doubting that you have locked doors or switched off appliances
- Needing things orderly and symmetrical or intense stress can arise
- Aggressive or horrific thoughts about losing control and harming yourself or others
- Thoughts about shouting or acting inappropriately
- Unwanted thoughts, including aggression, or sexual or religious subjects
- As with obsessions, compulsions typically have themes, such as:
- Washing and cleaning repeatedly
- Checking doors and switches repeatedly to ensure they are closed or turned off
- Counting or repeating particular patterns and mental checks/rituals.
- Having to maintain a particular order or structure.
- Following a strict routine
- Need for reassurance
OCD Impacts and Associated Features
OCD can be time-consuming and debilitating. The symptoms might range from moderate intrusions to complex life patterns aimed at mitigating disaster. In addition, OCD is often characterised by excessive self-doubting that prevents the compulsion (e.g. checking behaviour) from neutralizing the anxiety. Furthermore, there can often be a heightened sense of responsibility for the safety and well-being of others.
In addition, the nature of OCD can often be guilt-inducing, shameful, isolating, and difficult to talk about. This is particularly true when the intrusive thoughts (particularly if they are sexual or involve harming someone else) are completely misaligned with a persons values. OCD interrupts life, it stops adventure, exploration, and other life enhancing goals. We become stuck by a particular circuit of fear that is on repeat.
It is not always clear what might cause OCD to arise. There are particular brain regions and brain chemistry that are linked to OCD symptomatology. Furthermore, early life stressors, lack of safety, and other adverse life experiences can all shape the potential manifestation of OCD.
OCD Treatment Melbourne
Fortunately, effective OCD treatment in Melbourne is available. Depending on your particular needs therapy might involve a combination of CBT, Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), mindfulness, and/or medication. A form of CBT known as Exposure and Response Prevention are the typical treatments of choice. Likewise ACT is commonly used to help people disentangle from the jungle of over-thinking and anxiety.
Foremost, therapy often aims to break up the rigidity of the OCD patterning. Exposure involves stepping in to situations that are feared while limiting the compulsive behaviour. In addition, treatment often focuses on allowing and letting go of intrusive thoughts while gradually reducing compulsive behaviours. For example, if you need to check appliances 10 times before leaving the house the goal might be to reduce this to 6 times and then to 4 or 2 times. This treatment aims to assist people to sit with a degree of anxiety before performing the compulsion. Over time the aim is to extinguish the compulsive actions that take up so much time.
Treatment also teaches clients to build security, self-reassure, and live with a degree of uncertainty. In conjunction with this we are trying to build a degree of security and present-mindedness that can combat OCD. As with any mental health condition there is no specific time-frame that it might take to reduce symptoms. Depending on the the severity and particular characteristics of the OCD the course of treatment can vary. If you want to have a further discussion about psychological treatments for OCD feel free to call on 0451 491 395.