Mental health: Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental
illness consisting of high anxiety, repetitive behaviours,
obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours.
It is a type of anxiety disorder involving two categories of
symptoms; obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are repetitive and
intrusive thoughts, feelings or ideas that are unwanted and cause
high anxiety. Compulsions are repetitive actions that may be seen
as behaviours or rituals. Symptoms of OCD can develop
after a brain injury.
With OCD it is often felt that there will be a negative
consequence if the behaviour or ritual it not completed. The
compulsions may put the obsessions to ease temporarily. However
these can become very upsetting for the person performing them but
they are usually time consuming, interfere with daily life, and
also impact on other family members.
Causes of OCD
There are many theories on causes, including genetics, chemical
imbalance and structural abnormalities in the brain. Research
indicates a Traumatic Brain Injury could be one cause due to neural
damage coupled with high stress possibly contributing to the
development of OCD.
Symptoms of obsessive compulsive
A person can have multiple obsessions and compulsions that can
interfere with daily life. Examples of compulsions are repetitive
actions such as washing, cleaning, checking, hoarding, touching and
Obsessions can involve thoughts, images, religious
issues, fear of contamination, fears of harm to self or others and
Typical emotions are stress, anxiety, frustration, depression,
and often a sense of blame or shame.
The most effective treatments currently are medication,
cognitive behaviour therapy, community support and recovery
programs. The best outcomes usually involve an experienced health
professional such as a psychologist or psychiatrist providing
support, education and often a combination of treatments.
Medication: Certain drugs help the brain to
restore the usual chemical balance and help to assist with the
control of obsessions and compulsions. Consult your GP for more
Cognitive behaviour therapy: Depending on a
person's level of cognitive impairment, CBT is an effective
treatment. Cognitive behaviour therapy assists with changing
irrational beliefs and thought patterns and finding alternative
Community support & recovery programs: They
provide an environment to give and receive support. They provide
acceptance and understanding, along with self-help strategies.
Other strategies that may help include:
- Writing in a journal
- Exercise to use up excess energy
- Play video games to distract yourself until the anxiety
- Try relaxation techniques, such as breathing techniques or
- Cry and express your sadness of frustrations
- Talk to someone either a family member, health professional or
Give yourself time
Symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder take some time to
decrease. It is common to feel as if there is no improvement
so keep a diary of your accomplishments, thoughts and feelings so
you can reflect back on your accomplishments.
References and further information