/ disabilitysupport

What Is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a complex mental health condition prevalent among many Australians, characterised by distressing obsessions and compulsive behaviours. Often misunderstood and misrepresented, OCD can significantly impact a person's daily life and well-being.

OCD involves two main elements: obsessions and compulsions.

Obsessions are unwanted and intrusive thoughts, images, or urges that trigger intensely distressing feelings. Common themes include fears of contamination, an excessive focus on symmetry, or intrusive thoughts about harm or religious blasphemy.

Compulsions are repetitive actions or rituals that a person feels compelled to perform to alleviate the distress caused by obsessions or to prevent a feared event. These can include behaviours like excessive washing, checking, counting, or arranging things in a particular way. While these actions might provide temporary relief, they are often not a rational solution to the person's fears.

Diagnosing OCD

Diagnosing OCD typically involves:

Assessment of Obsessions and Compulsions: The presence of persistent and intrusive thoughts and repetitive behaviors.

Time and Impact: These thoughts and behaviours take up considerable time (more than an hour a day) and significantly impair various aspects of the individual's life.

Excessive or Unreasonable Actions: There is a recognition that these obsessions and compulsions are excessive or unreasonable.

This process is usually conducted through detailed clinical interviews and may involve various psychological assessments facilitated by psychologists or psychiatrists.

Treatment for OCD

Treatment for OCD is multifaceted and can involve several types of interventions:

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT): This is the cornerstone of OCD treatment. CBT, especially with a technique called Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), involves exposing the person to the source of their anxiety (the thoughts, images, or situations triggering obsessions) and helping them to refrain from engaging in the compulsive behaviour.

Medication: Antidepressants, particularly those in the class of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), are commonly prescribed to help reduce the symptoms of OCD.

Psychiatric Treatment: In more severe cases, or when CBT and medications do not provide sufficient relief, psychiatric treatment may be necessary. This could involve more intensive psychotherapy or other forms of medication management.

Support Groups and Psychoeducation: Joining support groups and gaining access to psychoeducational resources can also be beneficial. Organisations such as the Australian Psychological Society and local health services offer resources and support for individuals living with OCD.

Common Misconceptions about OCD

"OCD is Just About Being Neat and Organised": While cleanliness can be a feature of OCD, the disorder encompasses a much broader spectrum of thoughts and behaviours.

"People with OCD Just Need to Relax": OCD is a serious mental health condition that involves more than being able to relax; it requires targeted treatment strategies.

"OCD is Not That Serious": For many individuals, OCD can be debilitating and significantly impair one’s ability to function normally in daily life.

"Everyone Gets a Little OCD Sometimes": While many people may exhibit minor compulsive behaviors, true OCD is pervasive and disruptive and should be diagnosed and treated by a professional.

Understanding OCD in the full context of its symptoms, impacts, and treatment options is crucial for supporting those affected. If you or someone you know is struggling with OCD, professional help from mental health specialists can offer effective management strategies and improve overall well-being.

For more information visit This Way Up & Mental Health Online or chat to your GP or health professional.

To find disability support services, please visit www.careseekers.com.au/services/disability-support-workers

To find aged care services, please visit www.careseekers.com.au/services/aged-care-workers

To become a care or support worker, please visit www.careseekers.com.au/carer

To make a referral, please visit https://www.careseekers.com.au/referrals