Over the next few weeks I am going to tell you about OCD, anxiety, panic attacks and depression. So you can get a better understanding of them. This week I’m going to start with OCD.

The OCD list of famous people is endless, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Albert Einstein, Michelangelo, Charlie Sheen, David Beckham, Justin Timberlake, Paul Gascoigne, the list goes on, So if you suffer from this you are in good company.

Obsessive compulsive disorder is an anxiety disorder where you repeatedly have thoughts, urges and obsessions these can be very frightening and distressing to the sufferer. Recurring thoughts can make you anxious, and at times holding underlying beliefs that you or other people may come to harm if you don’t do a certain ritual.

Have you ever left the house and hurried back in case you left the hair straighter on or did you shut the window or lock the door? With OCD it can be so severe it interferes with our everyday life. The compulsion gives us the urge to keep checking locks and doors, washing hands etc. and this can get in the way of normal living because the repeating urge can carry on for hours so in the end we are too tired to venture out and if we did manage to escape we would be constantly be thinking we need to go back and check. I feel most of us have some form of OCD that we are in control of but when OCD controls us, it is time to get specialist help.

Here’s some common behaviours of people who suffer with OCD:

  • Obsessions, intrusive thoughts or impulses
  • Forbidden thoughts
  • A fear of contamination from dirt or germs
  • Unwanted aggressive thoughts
  • Upsetting sexual fantasies
  • Perfection/doubts about whether you have done something properly
  • Fears about losing things
  • Needing to confess something

At times there is a logical connection between a compulsion and an obsession, while in other cases there is no obvious reason. The vast majority of people with obsessions also have compulsions.

Here are some examples of compulsions:

  • Checking
  • Counting
  • Praying
  • Touching
  • Washing
  • Hoarding
  • Repeating actions over and over again.

The repetition brings no pleasure to the sufferer, who is normally trying to keep it a secret from society; this often is an exhausting way of managing a fear.

Obsessions normally revolve around fears about own safety or the safety of others. Instead of living with a small level of risk that is inevitable in life, sufferers become locked in a constant battle to remove the uncertainty.

Theories suggest it is caused by childhood and early experience or that a parent may have also suffered from OCD. Or it could be linked to a trauma, such as abuse etc. It could be caused by a projected image from a parent who is anxious telling the child germs can make them ill then in turn the child believes the world is a threatening place because of germs hence the constant washing of hands. It can be influenced by stress, genetics or illness. Some say it could be an imbalance in the brain.

Actresses, sportsman & any competitive person may have to do rituals before they go on stage or play a sport because they believe if they don’t they will forget their lines or the football team will lose etc. This is a feeling of being out of control of a situation so by doing rituals they are back in control.

OCD can be very distressing and have a serious impact on your life. So my best advice would be to see your GP and asked to be put forward for counselling, where coping strategies can be put in place. The Doctor may perscribe an antidepressant along with the therapy. As a therapist I would put in place cognitive behaviour therapy which aims to identify connections between thoughts, feelings and behaviour and to help with practical skills to manage them. At the same time I would look at the trigger point where OCD started, and then explore the area around this or explore any heredity experiences, basically establish the cause.

OCD affects many people young and old, people suffer in silence for years, I urge you not to be one of them.

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