Obsessive compulsive disorder
OCD affects approximately one in every 50 people. People who have OCD will experience recurring thoughts, or ‘obsessions’, that cause anxiety. They will then have the urge to engage in behaviours, or maybe rituals, that helps them feel less anxious. These ‘compulsions’ serve to neutralise or correct the obsessional thoughts, but only temporarily. Compulsions can include counting, saying a specific word or phrase, checking or doing a ritual, over and over again. The compulsions will often reduce the feelings of anxiety, but only in the short-term. OCD can have quite a marked impact on people’s lives and cause a great deal of anxiety.
The best treatment for OCD is psychological therapy. Exposure and response prevention (ERP) aims to stop the obsessions, anxiety, and compulsive behaviours from maintaining each other. If we can stop acting on the obsessions, we can reduce the need to engage in the compulsions. CBT aims to help people change our reaction to our unhelpful thoughts. ERP and CBT are often done together. Antidepressant medications, particularly Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) can also be helpful in treating OCD, especially when used in combination with psychological therapy.