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  • Writer's pictureAndrea Lindsay

OCD - What You Need to Know

OCD stands for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Obsessive thoughts, that spiral into compulsive actions to enable a feeling of control and order to be maintained or, to eliminate overwhelming fears of foreboding. However, the reality is that there is no realistic or actual connection between the behaviours and the fears. For some, only the obsessive thought aspect is prevalent, which is termed Pure ‘O’.

How many people suffer from OCD?

1 in every 50 people (approx 2%).

What causes OCD?

It is thought that a biochemical imbalance in the brain is responsible and the exacerbation of the rituals, further enhance this imbalance. OCD can often be triggered as a result of a traumatic event, such as bereavement, divorce, redundancy, illness – when things around us are out of control we endeavour to take control of simpler things that we have complete influence over.

Why does the thought become obsessive?

There is poor transmission between 2 key parts of the brain – the caudate nucleus and the putamen. Instead of information ‘shifting’ from the thinking part of the brain to the part that controls movement, the message gets stuck in the front part of the brain and does not allow you to shift onto the next thought.

Why does the thought become compulsive?

The feeling of not processing or clearing that thought creates the compulsive need to repeat the action in an endeavour to eliminate the anxiety produced by the obsessive thoughts.

Why do we keep doing it if we know it doesn’t make sense?

For most OCD sufferers, there is momentary relief from performing the ritual. However, repeating the ritual reinforces the behaviour and strengthens both the obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours.

What are the most common OCD symptoms?

  • Obsessions about contamination and germs

  • A need for symmetry and having things in order

  • Hoarding/collecting things to excess

  • Repetition of routine/constant checking

  • Unnecessary doubts/requiring constant reassurance

  • Obsessive sexual thoughts • Religious obsessions

  • Irrational fear of undertaking a violent act

  • The need for confession

  • Excessive superstitions

How can I overcome OCD?

By recognising that OCD is not part of who you are, it’s something that you do. Anything you practice you become very good at! You can become very good at helpful, positive behaviours, but you can become equally as good at unhelpful, negative behaviours, just by repeating them. By retraining your brain to adopt new routines and new behaviours you can break the old patterns, thereby altering the chemical imbalance in your brain. Hypnotherapy and psychotherapy along with other therapies such as CBT can be very effective in helping to overcome OCD.


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