What is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is characterised by persistent, intrusive, and distressing thoughts (obsessions) and/or repetitive, ritualistic behaviours or mental acts (compulsions) aimed at reducing anxiety or preventing a perceived negative outcome.
Some common examples of obsessions include fears of contamination, unwanted/intrusive thoughts, and excessive concern with order, symmetry, or morality. Compulsions can take the form of repetitive behaviours like excessive hand washing, counting, checking, or mental acts such as repeating phrases or prayers.
People with OCD often feel compelled to perform these behaviours, even if they realise they are irrational or excessive. However, these behaviours can interfere with daily functioning, social relationships, and cause significant distress.
What Causes OCD?
The exact causes of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) are not fully understood, but it is believed to be a combination of genetic, environmental, and neurobiological factors.
Research has shown that the disorder tends to run in families, indicating a genetic component to the disorder. However, the specific genes involved are not yet identified. Environmental factors such as childhood trauma, stressful life events, and infections have been linked to the onset of the condition.
Neurobiological factors also play a role. Studies have found that there may be differences in the levels of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and glutamate, which are involved in regulating mood, behaviour, and cognition
What Are The Signs of OCD?
Individuals can experience OCD slightly differently, but the most common signs tend to include:
- Repetitive behaviours or mental acts aimed at reducing anxiety or preventing a perceived negative outcome
- Preoccupation with order, symmetry, or exactness
- Spending excessive time on daily activities due to rituals or compulsions
- Excessive and persistent thoughts, impulses, or images that are intrusive and cause distress
- Difficulty tolerating uncertainty or ambiguity
- Fear of contamination or germs
- Need to perform tasks or behaviours until they feel “just right”
- Repeatedly checking things, such as locks, appliances, or safety measures
- Repetitive counting or arranging objects in a specific way
- Need for reassurance or frequent seeking of advice from others
- Avoiding situations that trigger obsessions or compulsions
- Difficulty making decisions due to fear of making the wrong choice
- Feeling intense anxiety, guilt, or shame if unable to complete rituals or compulsions
- Interference with daily functioning, social relationships, and quality of life due to obsessions or compulsions
You don’t have to be experiencing all of these symptoms to have the disorder. At Pynk Health, we encourage you to reach out, even if you think you may only be experiencing a few of these signs.
How is OCD Treated?
A highly effective treatment for OCD is cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT). CBT is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns and behaviours.
Medication is another common treatment for OCD. Antidepressants such as selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can be effective in reducing the frequency and intensity of obsessions and compulsions by regulating serotonin levels in the brain.
What does therapy involve for OCD?
For OCD, therapy often involves exposure and response prevention (ERP), which is a structured approach to gradually facing and tolerating anxiety-provoking situations while resisting the urge to perform compulsions.
Other therapies such as mindfulness-based therapies, dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT), and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) may also be effective in treating OCD symptoms.
PLEASE NOTE: We do not offer bulk billing.
Before you book your appointment to see a psychologist, it is important to consider the costs involved. This will help you to weigh your options and make the right decision for you and your health. Patients with a referral/mental health care plan from a GP will be eligible to claim a rebate from Medicare. We accept direct deposit or credit card/debit cards.
To suit your individual needs and preferences, sessions with a psychologist can be spaced weekly, fortnightly, or monthly.
For more information about costs, inquire at Pynk Health.