Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder that affects approximately 2-3 % of the population. It consists of intrusive and unwanted thoughts that are inconsistent with an individual’s values (obsessions). Examples include fears of acting in an uncharacteristic way that may lead to harm to loved ones, fear of contamination or a fear that the individual will be responsible for some catastrophe.This then leads to intense anxiety. The individual then engages in certain behaviours (compulsions) that act to reduce the anxiety associated with the obsession. Common examples of compulsions include checking (Eg the gas is off, the door is locked etc), counting things repetitively or repeating activities until they feel “right”.
Consider the following common example of OCD. A person prepares to leave the house and tries to recall whether they have used the gas and if so, that they turned the gas off. This leads to a the thought that they may not have checked and this could lead to a fire that may burn their building down and in turn kill children who live there (obsession). This generates intense anxiety which the individual finds difficult to tolerate. In order to reduce this anxiety they check the gas, several times, as “it’s better to be safe than sorry” (compulsion). This reduces the anxiety immediately, but the urge to check becomes more frequent (OCD).
There are a range of evidence based psychological treatments that are known to be effective in the management of OCD. At Peter Walker and Associates, we have a number of clinicians who specialise in the treatment of OCD.