The Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Obsessive compulsive disorders affect about 2% of the population. The main issue with the treatment of OCD is to get out of the malicious loop/cycle (obsession-distress-compulsions-relief).
OCD can be so disabling that the World Health Organization (WHO) has classified OCD in the ten most disabling diseases, in terms of loss of income and quality of life.
Having OCD (Obsessive compulsive disorder) is a bit like having a song playing in your head except that…this song creates anxiety. To relieve anxiety, the person with an OCD carries out specific actions. Unfortunately, carrying out these actions (compulsions) essentially only increases anxiety more and more.
The important thing to remember is that occasional intrusive thinking (even terribly disturbing) is normal for every individual, even without OCD. Punctual obsessive or compulsive thoughts rarely cause anxiety. It also shows us that it’s not the thoughts themselves that are the problem but the way people with OCD respond to these thoughts.
How can I help you?
The principle of the OCD treatment is to learn to accept uncertainty.
People with OCD often do not want to accept uncertainty.
If a person is afraid of hitting a pedestrian while driving, they will start driving and become anxious, thinking, "What if I hit someone," or "Did I just hit somebody accidentally?". They will go back to check if they did indeed not hit anyone. Basically, the more they go back to check, the more they feel reassured. But this also means that it reinforces their anxiety and that it will come back a lot more stronger.
A patient with OCD cannot be asked to curb their compulsions because these are beyond their conscious will. Numerous tools exist and depend on the patient and their reality and attitude towards their environment.
Either way, the approach is always twofold: Change on the one hand and the consideration of the anxiety disorder on the other.
• Pattern changes will slowly lead to the beginning of some flexibility in terms of rituals.
• Stress management exercises and voluntary anxiety peaks will progressively lead to the taming of anxiety.
Additionally, there are two tools of short systemic therapy called the ‘EMDR’ and ‘Ericksonian Hypnosis’ which tend to have had good results in OCD and phobia cases.
It is in that sense that I will help the person determine:
a) Where he/she stands in relation to the following question:
Is it an obsessive or compulsive behaviour that can be considered punctual, or does it affect in some way or the person’s quality of life? This is where the systemic vision of the problem will be paramount.
b) What kind of support he/she will need as a priority. Since the treatment of OCD can take some time, the sooner its diagnosis, the more effective the approach of the treatment will be and therefore its duration.
I invite you to contact me for an appointment.
There are a lot of ideas about what it’s like to be suffering from an obsessive compulsive disorder. It is not uncommon for a person “obsessed” with cleanliness to be associated with OCD (as part of the anxiety disorder).
The incorrect use of the terms "obsessive" and "compulsive" leads to a misunderstanding about OCD which unfortunately minimizes and downplays the real suffering behind the disorder (for the person themselves as well as for their relatives).
OCD comes in many forms and certainly goes far beyond the common perception that OCD is simply washing your hands, checking if the door is locked or living in a flawless interior. In fact, if a person suffers from OCD, it will have an impact on certain aspects or on every aspect of his or her daily life. It is at this level of impact that OCD is considered as a disorder.
Some therapies for OCD prove to be effective and anxiety is kept under control, without increasing the number of compulsions.
Sadly, the disease is often misunderstood because people are not always properly oriented.
Diagnostic errors can happen, and if a patient is urged to give up his or her compulsion instead of resisting it, anxiety can be aggravated. Just like the families of a person with OCD can unwillingly increase anxiety if they don't fully understand the disease.
For the relatives and immediate environment, some compulsions are obvious (verification, symmetry,...) whereas others are hidden (cognitive compulsions), and are therefore more difficult to identify as for example mental countdown.
The cause of OCD
Despite a whole series of theories and in-depth research, scientists have not yet been able to identify a definitive cause for which a person develops an obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
There have been a lot of theories about why people develop OCD:
Behavioural theory- learned theory
There is still a lot of theoretical controversy about its definitive cause.
Nevertheless, although most of the above theories offer convincing and informative perspectives, it is possible that a combination of these theories may eventually be identified as the real cause of OCD and that several factors come into play.
While the cause is currently still being debated by scientists, the fact that obsessive compulsive disorder is sometimes actually a chronic disease is not disputed. The good news is that this disorder is actually treatable.
Hopes for recovery?
It would be wrong to say that the treatment of OCD is easy and quick. It can sometimes be quite fast, but it’s not always the case. It can be particularly difficult for families when the person with a obsessive-compulsive disorder has poor insight of the disease. In these cases, the person will find it difficult to acknowledge that his or her concerns are excessive and that they may have OCD or need help.
The impact of OCD on family members should not be underestimated either. Family members, close friends, colleagues and others often involuntarily, mingle with the person’s compulsions.
Some people, with proper support and treatment, can recover from OCD and completely heal. For others, access to quality treatment means that recovery remains realistic. The person can sometimes continue to have intrusive thoughts, but these will not hinder him/her in their daily life.
Besides, recovery can mean different things for different people because it’s a continuous journey. For others, it may be a specific destination if definitive healing seems out of reach.
For example, if a person with obsessive compulsive disorder progresses through treatment, they may still experience occasional intrusive thoughts. But if these thoughts no longer have an impact on them, cause anxiety and lead to any form of mental or physical constraint, they would no longer be diagnosed with OCD. Some people call it recovery, others call it healing. Whatever its name, it is a realistic target for the treatment.
There are many online OCD tests available, some of which are unreliable. These tests should not be considered as a kind of guide or indication as to whether or not a person has OCD. Always consult a qualified health care professional.