Obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD)

Counselling treatment OCD – Obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterised by the presence of obsessive thoughts or images and repetitive behavioural tasks or rituals. Obsessive-compulsive phenomena are usually divided into obsessional thoughts without obvious compulsive behaviours (obsessional ruminations) and obsessions with overt compulsions (obsessional ritualising).

Obsessions: Obsessions are thoughts, images (mental pictures) or impulses (urges) which are recurrent, intrusive, unwanted and inappropriate. Obsessions are usually regarded by the individual experiencing them as senseless, unacceptable and difficult to ignore. The doubt that accompanies OCD leads to uncertainty regarding whether one might act on the troubling thoughts, resulting in self-criticism or self-loathing. Obsessions can lead the individual to experience severe anxiety and distress.

Common themes of intrusive obsessional thoughts or images include:

  • Contamination, dirt, disease, and illness
  • Orderliness
  • Violence and agression
  • Sex and sexuality
  • Religious

The individual tries very hard to ignore or suppress or even tries to neutralise the obsessions with some other thought or action. Neutralising most commonly takes the form of compulsive behaviour.

Compulsions: Some individuals with OCD experience strong urges to perform tasks or compulsions to seek relief from obsession-related anxiety. The individual may feel that these actions will either prevent a dreaded event from happening or will push the event from their thoughts. Compulsions lead to temporary feelings of relief. For instance, someone with obsessional thoughts about contamination may wash their hands repeatedly. However, these behaviors or mental acts either are not connected in a realistic way with what they are supposed to neutralise or prevent or are clearly excessive.

Common compulsions include:

  • Washing and cleaning
  • Checking e.g. locks, appliances, cars
  • Counting
  • Repeating routine activities and actions often with atypical sensitivity to numbers or patterns
  • Lining things up – according to rigid rules
  • Extensive hoarding

Individuals with Obsessive–Compulsive Disorder (OCD) are aware that their symptoms are irrational and excessive, but they find that the obsessions are uncontrollable or unstoppable and the compulsions are difficult or impossible to resist. Obsessions and compulsions are distressing, exhausting, and time consuming. It can significantly interfere with the individual’s daily routine, education/working life, family and social relationships. Obsessions and compulsions can lead to feelings of hopelessness and depression. 

If you are struggling with intrusive thoughts and/or are engaging in rituals, seek professional help. AtAmicus Counselling and Clinical Psychological Service, we provide evidence based treatment such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to help individuals overcome their symptoms. For appointment, please call 1800A MICUS (1800 264 287).