Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

— Skylight Trust

OCD is an anxiety disorder. You have recurrent, unwanted ideas or impulses (obsessions) and an urge (compulsion), to do something to relieve the discomfort. ​

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), is a common, chronic, and long-lasting disorder where a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions), and behaviours (rituals/compulsions), with the urge to repeat them over and over. You may feel powerless to resist them.

What are the signs and symptoms of OCD?

  • dirt and contamination, which leads to excessive washing and avoiding possible dirt
  • doubt, leading to checking that things have been done properly – like locks being locked and stoves turned off (rituals/compulsions)
  • unusual and repetitive thoughts that may raise unrealistic fears about your safety or the safety of your whānau.

OCD is an anxiety disorder, not a personality disorder. It usually starts during childhood or in your teenage years. Most people are diagnosed by about age 19. Symptoms of OCD may come and go and be better or worse at different times. There is a clear genetic (inherited) factor in OCD. If you have OCD, your children have more risk than most people, of developing the condition.

How is OCD treated?

The first step is to talk with your doctor or healthcare provider about your symptoms. They may refer you to a mental health specialist, such as a Psychiatrist, Psychologist, Social Worker, or Counsellor, for further evaluation or treatment.

OCD is generally treated with cognitive behaviour therapy and/or medication.

Ways to help you control OCD?

  • when you are experiencing OCD thoughts and urges, try shifting your attention to something else
  • by anticipating your compulsive urges before they arise, you can help to ease them. For example, if your compulsive behaviour involves checking that doors are locked, windows closed, or appliances turned off, try to pay extra attention to the action the first time.

Helping a friend or family member with OCD

  • if a friend or family member has OCD, your most important job is to educate yourself about the disorder. Share what you’ve learned with your loved one and let them know that there is help available
  • simply knowing that OCD is treatable, can sometimes provide enough motivation for your loved one to seek help
  • negative comments or criticism will not help
  • don’t tell someone with OCD to stop performing rituals
  • be as kind and patient as possible
  • communicate positively, directly and clearly
  • find the humour. Seeing the humour in some OCD symptoms can help the sufferer become more detached from the disorder. Of course, a situation is only humorous if the sufferer finds it funny, too.

For further information see attachments below and go to links

Resources Available at Skylight

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