This Article is About
obsessive compulsive disorder
cognitive behaviour therapy
persistent thoughts
thoughts and feelings
brain chemistry
perfectionism
Overcoming Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
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Obsessive compulsive disorder. What are the primary symptoms? What are the types? How is it assessed and diagnosed by clinical psychologists? What are the triggers? What are the causes? How is it treated by cognitive behaviour therapy? What are the associated conditions related to obsessive compulsive disorder?

Over recent decades, obsessive compulsive disorder has been frequently diagnosed as particular patterns of thinking and reacting which are persistent. Many diverse types of this psychological disorder exist. On average it takes 7 years from obsessional problems interfering with the individual's life to an diagnosis. For the individual it is essential they receive the right treatment. An estimated 1 in 100 individuals are affected everywhere by this condition.

Each type of obsessional compulsive disorder originates from worry. Many of these worries relate to slight risks but with OCD individuals there is exaggerated perception of the risk. All these worries and fears make the sufferer try too hard to be certain, to be in control. Perfectionism is one of the triggers of obsessive compulsive disorder. Not until the individual is comfortable will they stop obsessing.

Every individual with OCD has thoughts and feelings which lead from obsession to compulsion type behaviour. From this develop elaborate rituals which have to be performed and satisfied to allay the fears of the individual. Because these are persistent thoughts and images they trigger distress as they become frequent, unwanted and difficult to eliminate. Most individuals with OCD have multiple obsessions but only one or two of these are dominant.

Amid those with OCD, there is the recurrent theme of the individual trying too hard to prevent any harm or danger from occurring. Allthough specific patterns of thinking are associated with many psychological problems, CBT or cognitive behaviour therapy addresses these styles of thinking to resolve deep lying causes rather than provide psychotherapy for the symptoms.

Signs and symptoms of OCD include obsessive fear of contamination, obsessive fear of harm, excessive concern with exactness and order and symmetry, obsession with germs, obsessive religious thoughts, obsession with being homosexual, hoarding useless possessions, obsessions with images of violence, obsessions with music. Some belief develops in the individual with OCD that they should prevent harm from occurring by developing compulsion rituals to avoid these dangers.

By washing compulsively or checking compulsively the individual reduces distress and anxiety but this only increases the frequency of the obsession. Until they feel comfortable or just right they persist with the compulsion to be perfect. Deeply entrenched convictions and idealised values which are impossible to reach underly all these compulsions.

Avoidance behaviour is one of the primary causes of these compulsions. For instance, fear of any contamination from dirt can lead to someone not touching their body or possessions, not touching toilet seats, not touching door handles, avoiding shaking hands. Instead, they use tissue papers every time and in every place. Another example is washing and dressing very meticulously in precise and ordered sequences.

Further examples include aligning towels until perfectly aligned, straightening floor mats until perfectly aligned, leaving no single drop of water on the shower walls, not leaving any marks anywhere on any kitchen table surface or bath surface, every object in the fridge being placed in perfect symmetry and in the right order, clothes hung in perfectly symmetrical groups and colour co-ordinated from the lightest shade to the darkest shade, spending hours grouping jewellery in perfectly arranged boxes.

As if this is not manifestly evident enough of the signs and symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder we can include cans of food perfectly arranged and aligned with labels facing outward, tables and chairs perfectly symmetrically arranged, putting set number of items in your holdall in precise order and then counting these items again at repeated intervals. Repeating the same words again in the same order while performing these rituals is also known to frequently occur.

Only cognitive behaviour therapy can be used as effective treatment for obsessive compulsive disorder but most psychotherapists don't do CBT. So, the best solution is for there to be self-help groups to begin with. Since most OCD individuals recognise the distress the condition causes them they are willing to attend self-help groups. Unless they can afford to be treated by cognitive behaviour therapists.

Upon attending CBT which addresses the internal thoughts of the individual, ERP techniques can be used where the individual has to confront their obsessions and compulsions. Where exposure and response prevention techniques change the styles of thought processes is by making the individual realise time consuming compulsive rituals are abnormal and disordered behaviour. At this stage the longer they stay in the situations they fear, anxiety begins to subside and disappear.

Being challenged by yourself about how your thoughts are abnormal in the presence of others with OCD or by your CBT specialist will change your behaviour but proper treatment takes years to overcome obsessional-compulsive disorder.


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