"Help, I think I have OCD"

OCD or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder occurs when unwanted thoughts enter the mind time and time again. These compulsive thoughts can cause you great anxiety and give you the urge to carry out compulsive actions.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Symptoms

Do you have irrational mental images popping in your head repeatedly?

Do you have irrational, repetitive behavior that you cannot control?

Common Obsessive Behaviors for those with OCD

Fears about security: that you have left a door unlocked, or left the oven on or a gas tap

Worrying about hygiene and your health. For example, you may constantly wash yourself and the areas around you

An anxiety that things are contaminated or dirty

Obsession with symmetry and order. For example, you like everything to be arranged in a neat row and if there's an odd number of any item, you have to put it out of sight

Religious, or conversely, anti-religious preoccupation

A need to hoard

The repetition of certain phrases in your mind over and over

Shameful thoughts enter your mind frequently. They might be about violence, sex or the bizarre

OCD Treatment Options

Medication: anti-depressents may help some sufferers

Self help: books, support groups, CDs

Relaxation techniques: this does not directly treat the obsessive compulsive disorder, but it treats the stress and anxiety that goes with OCD.

Behavioral Therapy as an OCD Treatment Option

Behavioral modification or Behavioral Therapy is a recognized and common treatment for OCD thoughts. It is a psychological treatment which combines systematic desensitization (or exposure), behavior modification and operant conditioning (association of a behavior with positive reinforcement). CBT or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy looks like the sufferers' thought processes and often involves replacing negative thought patterns with positive ones.

For example, let's say you have a compulsive obsession to wash your hands. A Behavioral Therapist might ask you to keep a diary writing down what you did and how you felt as you were going about your day, including acting or thinking of compulsive obsessions. Then you might be asked to stop washing your hands perhaps just for a short time such as 20 minutes. You are again asked to write down in your diary how you felt about this. Gradually the time may be increased from 20 minutes to 30 minutes to 40 minutes and so on. You might be asked to do something that would usually abhor you, such as touch something you consider to be dirty (say, for example, a public washroom door handle) and refrain from washing your hands for a while.

Behavioral therapy can be a useful tool for many mental and psychological disorders including anget management, bulima, anorexia, substance abuse, phobias and panic disorder.

Behavioral therapy may be combined with other treatments such as support groups or medication depending the problem and the individual involved.

Yes I have OCD: what to do

Everyone has their own particular rituals, habits and irrational ways of doing things. But if you find it affecting your life and your relationships in a big way, or causing you undue stress and fear than it is better to acknowledge it and work towards treatment. If you think you are suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder, do a search online for support groups or experienced therapists. We wish you all the best.