Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

What is it

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a specific anxiety disorder in which people experience recurrent, obsessional, intrusive  thoughts and images. As these can be extremely unpleasant and unwanted, they cause significant emotional distress for the person. People with OCD are often aware their obsessions are a product of their mind and they attempt to ignore or neutralise them with compulsions. Also known as rituals, these repetitive behaviours or mental acts assist in reducing the distress caused by the obsessional thoughts. In the short term this can often prove effective,  but long term these behaviours increase and maintain the condition, leaving people feeling helpless and overwhelmed in resisting urges to perform them. 

What it includes

People with OCD often report the following types of obsessions -
  • Concerns about germs or contamination
  • Concerns about dirt, cleanliness or symmetry
  • Concerns about harming or injuring themselves or others
  • Somatic and health related concerns (i.e. vomiting)
  • Pathological self-doubt (i.e. turning iron off)
  • Performing unacceptable sexual acts or religious expectations (i.e. blasphemy)
People with OCD also report the following types of compulsions -
  • Cleaning, washing, list writing or re-arranging.
  • Checking and reassurance seeking
  • Mental rehearsal and counting
  • Hoarding, tapping or touching objects
As OCD becomes more severe, individuals notice they spend more time engaged in adhering to their rituals, and put other important areas of their life aside. Relationships with friends, family and at work may suffer and people may also start avoiding these people or the situations altogether as they trigger further distress. 

What we do

If you or someone you care for is displaying symptoms of OCD it is important that they have a thorough assessment with a GP, psychologist and/or psychiatrist so a personalised treatment plan can be developed. OCD commonly co-occurs with other depressive and anxiety disorders (trichotillomania, body dysmorphic disorder, hoarding disorder) so it is important to consider the impact of these on the treatment during the assessment process.

Often treatment takes several months and starts with psychoeducation about OCD. This can help in normalising people's experiences and break feelings of isolation or helplessness. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) has the strongest research support to date and is proven to be effective in people who attend their sessions regularly and in those willing to undertake the recommended interventions outside of their sessions.

Psychologists using CBT often use a combination of exposure and response prevention to challenge the beliefs associated with specific obsessions and the overestimated threat around resisting compulsions. Experiments are often undertaken in a structured manner, once the therapist and patient have a good understanding of the person's OCD, to enhance confidence. Coping skills are also taught to manage the distress experienced when fears are confronted and rituals resisted. Medication is also considered as effective, particularly for those demonstrating moderate to severe symptoms and significant distress.  

Our Practitioners

Dr Angela Hain

"Clinical Psychologist"

Angela is a clinical psychologist with a specific interest in complex trauma,  mood, anxiety and eating disorders.  Angela has spent the past 10 years treating severe and complex conditions  as a p...

To make an appointment, you can book Dr Angela Hain online, or call KCPSYCH on 3256 6320 today.

Dr Bronwyn Massavelli

"Clinical Psychologist"

Dr Bronwyn Massavelli, Clinical Psychologist B.Psych Sc (Hons 1), M.Clin Psych, PhD (Psychology). MAPS, MCCLIN, MPAIG, MPAWS Dr Bronwyn Massavelli is a registered Clinical Psychologist and provider wi...

To make an appointment, you can book Dr Bronwyn Massavelli online, or call KCPSYCH on 3256 6320 today.

Jasmin Singh

"Psychologist, Brisbane Minds Approved Provider"

Jasmin has completed six years of study at the University of Queensland to attain her registration as a psychologist. She has worked in private practice and in mobile service settings. She presented h...

To make an appointment, you can book Jasmin Singh online, or call KCPSYCH on 3256 6320 today.

Jenna Campbell

"Clinical Psychologist Registrar"

Jenna has completed seven years of study at the University of Queensland to attain her registration as a psychologist. She completed a Master of Clinical Psychology and is currently in the Clinical Re...

To make an appointment, you can book Jenna Campbell online, or call KCPSYCH on 3256 6320 today.

Kristie Clarke

"Clinical Psychologist, Brisbane Minds Approved Provider"

Kristie has completed a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) at the University of Newcastle and a Master of Clinical Psychology at the Australian Catholic University. She is a STAP Approved Supervisor, a...

To make an appointment, you can book Kristie Clarke online, or call KCPSYCH on 3256 6320 today.

Author

Dr Angela Hain