Do you know what OCD is? Well, Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) involves intrusive and obsessional thoughts, often followed by compulsive urges. These obsessions can be overwhelming, and the only way a person can relieve these intrusive thoughts is to repeat an action until it is quelled. Hence, we’ll explore the condition in more depth, including common symptoms, treatment for OCD, and the best OCD counselling psychologist in India.
Several misleading stereotypes surround this condition, including the idea that sufferers are very neat and tidy. In reality, OCD is a far more complex illness and can make day-to-day living very difficult for the affected person and those close to them. One of the biggest challenges for family and friends is understanding the illness. It is possible, however, for those with OCD to learn ways to manage the condition better. OCD Counselling Psychologist in India help deals with this better.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder isn’t a one-size-fits-all illness; it affects every individual differently. There are, however, patterns of behaviour and thoughts that are caused by the condition. These are outlined below to help you understand the core symptoms.
The four key behaviours that contribute to OCD are:
- Obsession – An intrusive, persistent and uncontrollable thought that enters your mind.
- Anxiety – You start feeling stressed and anxious due to the obsession.
- Compulsion – You find a compulsive need to exercise repetitive acts or behaviours because of the stress or anxiety that the obsession has caused.
- Temporary relief – Compulsive behaviour gives temporary relief from stress or anxiety. This cycle repeats when the obsession returns, usually soon after.
You can visit your OCD counselling psychologist in India if you have any of these symptoms.
If you have OCD, your obsessions will most likely revolve around fears, worries, impulses or even images. These obsessions can be intrusive and, at times, disturbing, and as a result, can affect your day-to-day life depending on their severity. Even when you begin to understand that the obsessions are involuntary, it can be difficult to figure out why you have them.
OCD is an anxiety-based condition. For example, if you have intrusive thoughts that you’re going to harm someone, it is likely because it is the thing you are most scared of happening (and therefore will very unlikely do). OCD Counselling Psychologist in India help deals with this better.
The compulsions are employed as a coping mechanism to relieve and ‘prevent’ the thoughts from ever happening. For example, if you think that you might harm a close member of your family, you will demonstrate compulsive behaviour (which your OCD convinces you will stop it from occurring).
It is not the behaviour or action stopping you from acting, but the idea of not carrying it out is challenging for those with OCD, ‘just in case. You may be aware that your worries and fears are irrational, but you will be unable to control them. Additionally, the more you try to fight them, the more prominent they become.
A compulsion is a natural response to the feeling of anxiety or discomfort that derives from an obsessive thought, impulse or fear. Examples include a repetitive set of mental actions (such as counting, checking a feeling/sensation or repeating a phrase), physical behaviours or actions.
Compulsive behaviours are very structured – most commonly set to a routine to prevent the apparent danger from taking place. You might feel a responsibility to carry out certain actions to repress the threat, as you feel that it will harm yourself or a loved one. Sadly the relief gained from this is only temporary. The cycle will then repeat.
For example, people who do not suffer from OCD may switch off the light and think nothing more. Someone with OCD symptoms surrounding checking may feel the need to switch the light on and off a certain number of times as their OCD has convinced them this will ensure the house doesn’t catch fire.
These compulsions are categorised as covert (a mental act) or overt (observable by others). A covert compulsion may be mental counting to neutralise a disturbing and unwelcome image. An overt compulsion is physical, such as washing or checking things repeatedly to quell the obsession.
For some, the obsessions are more prominent than the compulsions. If the compulsions are covert (i.e. cannot be noticed externally) someone may say they have ‘Pure O’.
OCD in Children
While every case is unique, many people who have OCD say their symptoms began in childhood. Children with OCD may worry that things aren’t in the right order; they may be concerned about losing possessions or have a compulsion to collect things.
When asked why they carry out certain rituals, they may have a tough time explaining why saying something along the lines of ‘just because’. OCD in children can cause low self-esteem and frustration.
‘It all started when I was 11 years old. I began picking up small rituals that I felt compelled to do for no real reason. I was stepping on drains a certain number of times, touching certain objects twice and avoiding many situations in case I couldn’t complete my compulsions.’ – Read Aimi’s story.
If you are worried your child may have OCD, going to your doctor to receive, a formal diagnosis is the first step. There are many professionals available who specialise in counselling children and can help them discuss and manage their symptoms in an easy to understand way.
Types of OCD
Most cases of obsessive-compulsive disorder fall under four main categories. Even though many strains fall under several sub-categories. The treatment for OCD depends upon the type. The four main areas are checking, hoarding, contamination and intrusive thoughts/ruminations.
The types of things that people with obsessive-compulsive disorder may feel the need to check to prevent damage include:
- water taps (fear of flood damage to the house and contents)
- lights (fear of causing an electrical fire)
- car, door and window locks (fear of car/household items getting stolen)
- appliances (fear of the house burning down)
- gas appliances/canisters (fear of explosions)
- wallet, purse or handbag (fear of losing money, personal documents or bank cards)
- re-reading emails, postcards, letters (fear of mistakes or writing something offensive)
The amount of checking needed to ‘neutralise’ the obsession ranges from repeating it a few times to hundreds of times. This repetitive checking can seriously affect an individual’s career and personal relationships.
Hoarding refers to the compulsion to accumulate items. It is considered to be a compulsive disorder symptom when the hoarding of items interrupts day-to-day life; for example cluttering up the bedroom so there is nowhere to sleep, or if the gathering of objects has a detrimental effect on the individual’s social life or career.
This is the obsessive fear that something needs to be cleaned or washed out of fear of contamination. It can arise in several different situations that may make an OCD sufferer feel uncomfortable:
- wearing clothes (shaking them to remove bugs, dead skin etc.)
- being in a crowd (fear of catching a disease from other people)
- using toilets (fear of contracting germs and illnesses from other people)
- shaking hands (fear of catching an illness from other people)
- touching door handles, bannisters etc. (fear of contracting germs and illness from other people)
In obsessive-compulsive disorder, ruminations refer to a prolonged phase of thinking about a theme or a question that can often have a religious or philosophical context. An example could be the fixation of what happens after death. Sufferers might visualise heaven, hell, purgatory and what other philosophers and religious leaders have said on the subject.
5. Intrusive thoughts
These are obsessional, prolonged thoughts that are often troubling in nature. Intrusive thoughts can include sexual or violent harm to loved ones. However, people with OCD are usually the least likely to act on them as they find them so repugnant in nature.
Other common intrusive thoughts include those surrounding relationships, sex and religion.
Causes of OCD
The overall cause of this anxiety disorder is unknown. But multiple related factors might increase the chances of obsessive-compulsive disorder developing.
- Stress – Stressful situations and traumatic life events can trigger OCD.
- Genes – inherited; passed down from one generation to the next.
- Life-changing scenarios – OCD tendencies can occur when increased responsibility gets too much. The birth of a child, the death of a loved one or a new job is the kind of scenarios that change one’s life enough to develop obsessive-compulsive disorder symptoms.
- Personality – For meticulously organised people who are already methodically cataloguing their life possessions, symptoms of OCD might go unnoticed. These symptoms can get out of hand – if it goes too far, they can develop the full anxiety disorder and seek help from an OCD counselling psychologist in India.
- Biological changes – Small changes to the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain, such as serotonin, might trigger OCD.
- Ways of thinking – Depending on the individual’s moral outlook on life, thoughts like ‘what would happen if I stepped in front of that train?’ or ‘I might harm my partner’ are usually quickly dismissed. But if someone has an extremely high sense of responsibility and morality, they might feel that it’s their fault these involuntary thoughts come into their head, which makes the thoughts more likely to return.
Treatment for OCD
There is the treatment for OCD or Obsessive-compulsive disorder, and OCD counselling psychologist India, in particular, is advised for helping sufferers to take back some control over their OCD symptoms. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), in particular, is the recommended treatment for OCD.
1. CBT for OCD
Cognitive behavioural therapy is a talking therapy that aims to help overcome problems by recognising and changing the way an individual thinks and behaves. The therapy looks to teach the person that it isn’t the thoughts that are the major problem; it’s what the individual makes of those thoughts and how they act on them. An OCD Counselling Psychologist in India will help deal with this better.
2. Exposure and response prevention (ERP)
Exposure and response prevention is a type of CBT that can help stop anxieties and behaviours from getting stronger. You get used to being involved in a stressful situation after a point in time. This leads to the neutralisation of the need to perform compulsive behaviour.
Antidepressants can help relieve anxiety and support those with OCD. One should check with a doctor for proper analysis. Following the advice of your OCD counselling psychologist or counsellor/doctor and discovering what works for you is key. Know that support is available and that you can manage your condition and live a fulfilling, happy life.
What should I be looking for in a counsellor or psychotherapist?
There are currently no laws in place stipulating what training and qualifications an OCD counselling psychologist in Chennai or anywhere, apart from being a qualified clinical psychologist. However, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has developed a set of guidelines. These guidelines provide advice about the recommended treatments, including the following:
There are several treatments for OCD for helpful adults, including psychological therapies and medication. The main psychological treatment for OCD is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) including exposure and response prevention (ERP).
Most psychological treatment for OCD consists of CBT with ERP. But if you do not feel comfortable starting ERP or it has not helped you, your healthcare professional can offer you cognitive therapy adapted for people with OCD.
Research has shown that medication used for treating depression (called ‘antidepressants’) can also help people with OCD. There are different types of antidepressants, but selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (or SSRIs for short) often work best for people with OCD.
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